AIA Chicago hosted its 54th annual Designight this weekend at Navy Pier, recognizing 24 local architecture firms with Design Excellence Awards. This year's winners were honored for exceptional work in four categories: Distinguished Building, Interior Architecture, Regional & Urban Design, and Divine Detail. Juries of distinguished architects from around the country selected the winners from a field of 293 entries. Thirty awards were announced in total, 20 of which are for designs in Illinois. The remaining 10 are for projects in other states and countries. "The 2009 Design Excellence Awards illustrate the incredible, diverse array of work being done by local architects," said AIA Chicago's president, Grant Uhlir, AIA. "Winning projects this year include everything from a large office tower in Germany and a university laboratory to a cupcake boutique and even a parking ramp." Of particular interest this year was the Regional & Urban Design category. Projects in this category netted seven awards, including a plan to rebuild the historic waterfront harbor in Alexandria, Egypt by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLC, a model created for recycling Chicago's water through a series of "Eco-Boulevards" by UrbanLab, and a master plan that accompanied Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics. "The Regional & Urban Design category exemplifies some of the most creative, thought-provoking and inspiring work," said Zurich Esposito, AIA Chicago's executive vice president. "The incredible effort and innovation displayed attests to the fact that Chicago's architects are some of the most sought-after architects in the world." In addition to the Design Excellence Awards, AIA Chicago will honor the late Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett, co-authors of the 1909 Plan of Chicago, with a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award. A short presentation will be made at the awards ceremony to honor the extraordinary impact Burnham and Bennett had on making Chicago the great city it is today.
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