MacDonald and Schumann's After Architecture wins national AIA Excellence Award

This month, the American Institute of Architects announced its 2024 award winners across nine project categories honoring the best in contemporary architecture regardless of budget, size, style, or type. Awards were given at a gala held at the historic Pension Building in Washington D.C., home of the National Building Museum, where individuals receiving fellowship were also honored. 

At the event, AIA EVP/Chief Executive Officer Lakisha Ann Woods, CAE said, "Tonight we celebrated not only the exceptional talent within our profession but also the innovative and sustainable solutions that our award winners have delivered." 

Photo by Leonid Furmansky

Among the nine categories of prizes, which includes design excellence in healthcare design, housing, regional and urban design, and more, are exemplary projects selected nationally that are defined as "small projects." AIA and its Small Project Design (SPD) Knowledge Community present the annual Small Project Award to raise public awareness of the value and design excellence that architects provide regardless of the limits of size and scope. These projects represent the big impact that small projects can have on their users and broader communities. 

This year, the UVA School of Architecture's Katie MacDonald and Kyle Schumann, Assistant Professors of Architecture, and co-founders of After Architecture, were chosen as winners of this highly-selective recognition for their project, Sylvan Scrapple. One of nine projects selected, the award-winning design for Sylvan Scrapple in Columbus, Indiana bridges food waste resourcefulness and design technology advances with a focus on circular construction.

Photo by Hadley Fruits for Landmark Columbus Foundation

Designed for an exhibition organized by the Landmark Columbus Foundation, the project draws parallels between waste in cooking and construction to advance the dialogue around circular construction. Situated between Columbus’ Visitors Center and the Cleo Rogers Memorial Library, the installation, built from nonlinear logs and salvaged materials, shapes a series of intimate spaces and a wooded oasis.

Sylvan Scrapple was a focal point of the fourth biannual cycle of Exhibit Columbus, the first to have an open call for participants. Its theme, Public by Design, sought university design research fellowship projects to respond to a recent downtown activation study through design and community engagement. MacDonald and Schumann and their student research team were one of seven selected from a national pool of nearly 50 applications. 

“This project demonstrates innovative methods
of making to create a more intimate area in an
urban setting. It does a fantastic job of thinking
about resources, location, and the history of
 the city.”

— Jury Comment, 2024 AIA Awards

Photo by After Architecture

At its core, Sylvan Scrapple is a research pavilion designed to test, prove, and demonstrate new construction technologies while presenting the public with a new material ethos. The project conveys this through post-tensioned curved wood walls fabricated with a robotic sawmill the team invented. Using wood from trees that were felled by a 2022 storm, the team cut the material into 3-inch-wide curved boards and stacked them to create snaking walls. It also features a reused brick gabion system, with bricks harvested from neighboring sites, and a bio-resin table that includes offcuts from the project’s construction.

Spatially, Sylvan Scrapple is carefully scribed to its site, where it engages with an existing brick planter at the edge of a substantial public plaza designed by I.M. Pei. A single curved wall winds itself into and out of the planter, beckoning the public into the raised landscape. A series of decks and wall segments form intimate spaces for gathering and eating, offering a human-scaled respite from the monumental paved plaza. For several weeks after the project was installed, the scent of fresh wood lingered throughout the block, providing a multisensory awareness of the material strategy.

Photo by After Architecture

The project hinges on a 15-foot dining table formed with bio-resin and scraps that stages its own exhibition. Titled Table Scraps, the exhibition is a collection of recipes that capitalize on food waste combined with visual scraps and place settings. Each of the featured recipes is presented as a life-sized placemat.

Katie MacDonald
Kyle Schumann

Shiza Chaudhary
Ammon Embleton
Isaac Goodin
Emily Ploppert
Margaret Saunders

UVA Sawmilling
Irwin Block
First Christian Church

Leonid Furmansky
Hadley Fruits for Landmark Columbus Foundation
After Architecture

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