2018 Architecture Awards

Build 2018 Architecture Awards 8 stablished in 1996, Ward+Blake has received recognition for architecture that is sensitive to its environment and successfully integrated with its surroundings. The firm creates buildings that are bioclimatically responsible, honestly expressed, technologically sound and artfully crafted. Amanda outlines the firm’s pride in its incredible success. “On the topic of success, Ward+Blake Architects are extremely pleased to be the recipients of the 2018 Build Architecture Awards. As we are a small firm in the Rocky Mountains in western Wyoming, it is especially gratifying to receive recognition of our work. We think the work speaks to specifics regarding geographic location, climate, and culture, and we always begin designing with these aspects in mind.” Ward+Blake offers full Architectural design services for residential and commercial projects of any scale. The firm focuses on site-specific design, energy conservation, and beauty derived from materiality and accommodation of its client’s needs. Their clientele is international, from all walks of life. The Granite Ridge Residence provided a veritable smorgasbord of design challenges, ranging from an irregularly shaped site that rises sharply from the front to the back, to a microclimate located at the base of Rendezvous Mountain that regularly produces annual snowfalls of two to three meters. Ward+Blake explored new to the area materials, such as board-formed concrete as an alternative to a masonry veneer, as it has the visual strength to stand up to the rugged alpine environment, while providing a subtle texture which catches the light filtering through the trees. The cedar cladding upstairs is a variation of indigenous log structures one encounters in the mountains, with the fine finish on the wood being a counterpoint to rustic native log work. The concrete form of the garage provides a strong foreground while the strength and rigidity of the material provides resistance to earthquake forces typically found in this location. “Our design process begins with client input, it is then filtered by physical demands presented by the site and is further informed by elements found in the local building culture. This implies a linear progression, but, these pursuits happen simultaneously, and the hierarchy of design elements gradually sort themselves out” explains Tom Ward. Obviously, this process is initially chaotic, but order is established once the hierarchy is set. In mid-process the technology demanded by the design solution becomes apparent and it is then incumbent to solve these challenges while retaining the integrity of the initial design. This is where the rubber hits the road and an area where the firm feels they excel. While design is the foremost priority at Ward+Blake Architects, they feel that building science should never take a backseat as to how well the building serves its end user is a critical measure of a projects success. There is an absolute need to provide a reliable, efficient and comfortable environment and that never is given casual attention. The firm takes a conservative approach to Green Architecture such as utilizing ground source heat pumps as an elegant way to heat and cool a building. Using latent heat found in both the earth’s crust and ground water is a very satisfying and cost-effective way to reduce energy consumption. Components such as super insulated building envelopes, high efficiency glass, and heat recovery ventilation systems retain energy used with in the structures and make their buildings use a fraction of the energy required only ten years ago. “Our process is the same whether we are working in a rural or an urban context, in that we are always looking to place our structures in such a way that they speak to their location and respond to specifics of their site.” says Mr. Ward. Tom goes on the explain “we are practicing in a relatively undeveloped portion of the country, the building vernacular is being challenged by building typology informed by technology and definitively toward modernism, and we are always attempting to fuse these influences with some of the building techniques that have been utilised here since people started homesteading in this area at the turn of the last century. The original homesteading settlers used cuts of sod as roofing to shelter themselves from the elements. This material was used because it was expedient to do so. We now use it for more conceptual reasons. It still shelters the structures from the elements, but it also slows the percolation of storm water runoff reducing the destructive effects of erosion. It places a building firmly onto its site by using native plant material. These plants also respond to environmental conditions such as rain fall, and the passing of the seasons, thus providing a dynamic quality to the structures. This design sensitivity is augmented using state of the art communication, data processing and mechanical systems, so that no function of the house harks back to before the last century!” Principal Mitch Blake explains “Technology has been a real boon to our industry in that we are able to communicate with clients and fabricators all over the world to ensure first that the design meets our Best Residential Architecture Firm – Wyoming & Best Luxury Residential Project (Wyoming): Granite Ridge Residence Ward+Blake Architects was built on a distinctive vision: Be provocative in thought, flexible in nature, and disciplined in execution. Following their success in BUILD’s 2018 Architecture Awards, Amanda Green provides us with an insight into the firm, highlighting their innovate ways and how they strive to achieve excellence in the work they do. E

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