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BSA News

Jul 27, 2022

How Design Awards help projects tell their stories

2 Revolution Hotel Robert Benson

Photos by Robert Benson unless otherwise specified

Thinking about submitting a project to the BSA Design Awards? The story of the Revolution Hotel shows how the new submission process benefits firms.

The BSA’s updated Design Awards submission process asks submitters to consider each of the 10 criteria in the AIA Framework for Design Excellence. Submitting requires thought and careful consideration, but to Deana Martin, Director of Marketing and Communications at PCA, it’s a unique opportunity for the firm to highlight projects with the most compelling stories.

“I think it’s important, for PCA, to talk about this type of work— to talk about something outside of design. We strive to do good work, and I think these are good stories to put out there for people to relate to your projects. You become a firm that people want to pick up the phone and call, because they know that you can help them with a project that’s community-based, that’s going to keep the users of the building and community involved,” Martin said.

Last year, PCA submitted the Revolution Hotel, a boutique hotel on Berkeley Street that is an adaptive reuse of an historic YWCA building, for the Hospitality Design category. It was a decision made with intentionality that involved close study of the submission guidelines and the Framework.

At PCA, Martin is in charge of submissions to awards programs.

“I read the requirements for the program, and what the AIA Framework was, and said we had two projects that I thought we could put forth. One of them was the Revolution Hotel … It was an award-winning project for hotel boutique design; it’s received a lot of press, but not the type of attention the BSA Awards program would bring to this project,” Martin said.

1 Revolution Hotel Elisif Brandon

Photo by Elisif Brandon

Martin also engaged in dialogue with the team of architects that had worked on the Revolution Hotel, taking advantage of the records they’d kept that shed light on the project’s original intentions and its gradual development into the finished product. She found that following the Framework enabled her to craft a story around the project’s unique qualities.

“I highlighted the pieces of the framework where I knew I had all the material—where I knew there were criteria that this project could meet. I did not worry about where there weren’t, because I knew that there were so many points where it did meet it,” said Martin.

It also required her to learn about the surrounding community. To write about the Designing for Economy criteria, she researched the neighborhood and identified opportunities for the Revolution Hotel to invigorate surrounding businesses.

“If I spoke with the project team and the project didn’t meet the framework, I wouldn’t have submitted it. I think that’s important,” Martin said.

In an era where many designers and firms are rethinking their work in terms of impact and sustainability, Martin felt that the BSA program was able to align with where PCA is headed and its approach towards designing for the greater good.

15 Revolution Hotel Robert Benson

View 2021 Award winners

This deliberate approach paid off—the Revolution Hotel was the Honor Award winner for the Hospitality Design category.

“It’s a historic project—it was originally designed and built as a Y,” Martin said. “We wanted to talk about that history and put it into the context of the city of Boston … and adapt it to new programming. We wanted The Revolution Hotel to be part of the neighborhood and the community.”

With a shared working space that’s open to all, a performance space, and a courtyard that allows for more public access, the hotel aims to be a hub that the community can be proud of.

Martin has some advice for firms who are looking to submit: Read the Framework, speak with team members, and brainstorm as a group.

“What projects meant something to us in a different way, where we felt that we really reflected the fabric of the community, we really engaged in the community, we met their needs? Do we have any projects like this? Hopefully, there’ll be a lot of yeses,” she said.

2022 BSA Design Awards: What submitters need to know

August 17, 2022, 8:15 AM - 9:30 AM

Join this session to learn all you need to know about the BSA’s 2022 Design Awards program. The session will provide an overview of this year's awards categories and submission requirements (and how they differ from last year), an overview of the Framework for Design Excellence, as well as a presentation by one of last year’s Design Award winners with tips on creating a successful awards submission. Q+A will follow.

2022 BSA Design Awards: Office Hours

August 30, 2022, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Have questions about the 2022 Design Awards program or best practices that can assist other submitters? Join our Design Awards Office Hours and bring your questions.