American-Architects Building of the Year 2012

John Hill | 02.11.2013
The American-Architects Building of the Year 2012 is the Masonic Amphitheatre Project in Clifton Forge, Virginia, designed and constructed by the design/buildLAB at Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design. The project was selected by 20% of the voters who sifted through the 50 Buildings of the Week featured on American-Architects last year. 
Building of the Year: Masonic Amphitheatre Project. Photo: Jeff Goldberg/Esto
The design/buildLAB is a third-year architecture studio headed by Marie and Keith Zawistowski, husband-and-wife architects who studied under Samuel Mockbee at Auburn University's famous Rural Studio. The couple has taken Mockbee's spirit for social responsibility to heart, pursuing projects that benefit underserved communities. The exceptional Masonic Amphitheatre serves the former railroad boomtown of Clifton Forge, replacing a truck tire facility with a civic infrastructure. It is the design/buildLAB's second major project, following the Covington Farmer's Market completed the previous year. The two projects are linked through the Market's use of salvaged materials from the warehouse that formerly occupied the site of the Amphitheatre, which subsequently used the warehouse's slab as a stage.
Building of the Year: Masonic Amphitheatre Pavilion. Photo: Jeff Goldberg/Esto
When notifying the Zawistowskis about their project's selection as Building of the Year, Keith recalled the town of Clifton Forge's enthusiasm for Virginia Tech's interest in doing a project for their downtown. The potential for the project's realization to positively impact a broad cross section of the public made it ideal for the design/buildLAB. The students subsequently worked with the community to develop a masterplan and program for the project, key parts of the project's success. As well, the Zawistowskis' are evidence of how the experience of building the amphitheatre will influence the rest of the students' lives.
Building of the Year: Masonic Amphitheatre Pavilion, student team. Photo: Jeff Goldberg/Esto
For the Masonic Amphitheatre Project the 16 students (Tyler Atkins, Lauren Duda, Huy Duong, Derek Ellison, Megumi Ezure, Katherine Harpst, Kyle Lee, Leo Naegele, Margaret Nelson, Leah Schaffer, Ian Shelton, Brent Sikora, Emarie Skelton, Samantha Stephenson, Taylor Terrill, Samantha Yeh) prefabricated modules in Blacksburg, the home of Virgina Tech, and erected the pieces on site, as can be seen in Jeff Goldberg's time-lapse video of the construction: 
Congratulations to the Zawistowskis and their students on the Masonic Amphitheatre Project, the 2012 Building of the Year. We're looking forward to future design/buildLAB projects, and we'll be sure to keep you, our readers, updated on them.
Building of the Year: Masonic Amphitheatre Pavilion. Photo: Jeff Goldberg/Esto
And a brief mention and congratulations to the two runners-up in the Building of the Year poll. The second place building, with just over 10% of the votes, is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center in Brooklyn, New York, designed by Weiss/Manfredi
Second Place: Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Photo: Albert Vecerka/Esto
The third place building, with just under 10% of the vote, is the Yin-Yang House in Venice, California, designed by Brooks + Scarpa Architects.
Third Place: Yin-Yang House. Photo: John Linden
The Building of the Week feature for 2013 is taking a state-by-state look at American architecture: 50x50 — 50 States in 50 Weeks. Visit the page every Monday for a new building, from Alabama to Wyoming. And at the end of the year we'll once again conduct our Building of the Year poll.