2008 Building From The Best Awards – February 07

Innovative Projects Win Building from the Best Awards
Ceremony Set for March 8 at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort

TUCSON, Arizona – The Sonoran Institute has named seven design, development and building projects in Pima County as its 2008 Building from the Best award winners. The honors are presented biennially to celebrate and encourage projects that respect the natural environment and the character of the area’s communities.

Superior living and working environments, efficient uses of resources, and preservation of the Sonoran Desert’s natural and cultural heritage are among qualities the award categories recognize. Category winners represent a variety of business, public and private projects in Tucson and surrounding communities.

“Building from the Best Awards salute innovative and responsible architects, builders, owners and developers who are making our community a better place to live,” said Luther Propst, executive director of the Sonoran Institute. “The awards are intended to encourage a higher level of quality development by showcasing creative and inspirational projects.”
This is the third presentation of Building from the Best awards since the program began as a joint venture between the Institute and the City of Tucson. The 2008 awards event will be March 8 at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort. The evening will begin at 5:30 pm with a cocktail reception and a silent auction. For more information on the event and to purchase tickets,   call Jessica Ristow at the Sonoran Institute, (520) 290-0828, or visit www.sonoran.org.

Since 1990, the nonprofit, Tucson-based Sonoran Institute has inspired and enabled community decisions and public policies that respect the land and people of western North America. The Institute helps communities conserve and restore natural and cultural assets and manage growth and change through collaboration, civil dialogue, sound information, and big-picture thinking.

Category and Winning Projects Descriptions

Category: Natural Open Space Integration in a Development
Award-Winning Project: Sky Ranch, Marana, by Stellar Homes
Award Criteria:
•    Integration of natural and built environments
•    Preservation of natural undisturbed open space within the project
•    Integrated accessibility to natural open space
The plan and design for this project incorporated the suggested guidelines of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for disturbance in federally designated critical habitat for the ferriginous pygmy owl. The first project of this size in Arizona to address this entirely on-site, Sky Ranch has about 412 acres of contiguous open space to provide habitat that will always remain undisturbed. The project features “modified cluster” development, with the goal that each lot has a large area of open space. For more information, go to www.azplanningcenter.com .

Category: Mixed-use Development
Award Winning Project: Main Gate Square, Tucson, by The Marshall Foundation
Award criteria:
•    Two or more uses in a compact, connected development pattern
•    Provides (or fulfills) a variety of services (or needs) in proximity to each other
•    Creates an environment that focuses on the pedestrian
Main Gate Square is an urban, pedestrian and bicycle friendly, mixed-use project that serves the University community and its customers, and also creates a unique experience for the surrounding historic neighborhoods and Pima County residents and visitors. Pedestrian traffic patterns developed on the west end of campus in the early 1900s were maintained and pedestrian traffic moving in all directions created multiple faces for retailing and a true urban landscape. For more information, go to www.maingatesquare.com .

Category: Urban Infill Development
Award Winning Project: Mercado District at Menlo Park, Tucson, by Rio Development Company
Award Criteria:
•    Vacant land development within a built environment
•    Within the urban core or town center of Marana, Sahuarita, South Tucson, Tucson or Oro Valley
•    Must reflect existing neighborhood development patterns
Rio Development Company’s focus is the design and construction of neighborhoods that correspond and support – both architecturally and ecologically – the surrounding environment. For more information on Mercado District at Menlo Park, go to www.mercadodistrict.com .

Category: Creative Redevelopment and Rehabilitation
Award Winning Project: Curley School, Ajo, by International Sonoran Desert Alliance
Award Criteria:
•    Reuse and/or rehabilitation of an existing building or structure
•    Adaptation of historic building structures to meet current social or cultural needs
 The Curley School was built in 1919 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The restoration and renovation of the historic Curley School into 30 living and working apartments for artisans was completed in 2007. This building and other work on the campus form the centerpiece of an economic revitalization strategy for Ajo. For more information, go to www.curleyschool.com .   

Category: Good Neighbor
Award Winner: Lowe’s Home Improvement, Tucson and Marana
Award Criteria:
•    Working with neighbors and community members to ensure seamless integration into existing community fabric
•    Preserve, protect and/or enhance existing structure
Lowe’s has been a leader in working in partnership with the community to integrate its operations into the fabric of neighborhoods that surround its stores. For example, the East Tucson Lowe’s location was designed to fit comfortably within the community with unique exterior colors, architectural design, and creative landscaping. Lowe’s also built a car-free pedestrian path and contributed a million dollars for a shaded playground behind the building where it adjoins the Rillito River trail network. In addition, Lowe’s received an ENERGY STAR Award for five consecutive years, from 2003-2006, for promoting products that meet the highest energy and water efficiency standards. For more information, go to www.lowes.com .

Category: Regionally Appropriate Architecture
Award-Winning Project: McClintock’s Restaurant, Marana, at Saguaro Ranch
Award Criteria:
•    Use of materials appropriate for site location and context
•    Orientation and site design appropriate to climate
McClintock’s restaurant is located within the 1,035 acre Saguaro Ranch luxury residential community with the amenities of an intimate guest ranch resort. Almost 80 percent of the land will be conserved and remain undisturbed by development. McClintock’s incorporates the reuse of materials excavated from the building site, creating balance between the structure and the natural environment. For more information, go to www.saguaroranch.net or www.mcclintocks-restaurant.com.

Category: Green Building
Award-Winning Project: Lee H. Brown Family Conservation Learning Center, Tucson, by Reid Park Zoo
Award Criteria:
•    Structures that utilize natural resources at a high level of efficiency
•    Innovative design elements that contribute to a sustainable environment through natural resource conservation
•    Demonstrates an overall commitment to environmental quality
Built as an enhanced space to teach about conservation, the environment and animals, this facility is designed to meet the most stringent sustainability standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® certification program. The project is registered LEED® Platinum, and when successfully certified, will be the first such designation in southern Arizona and the first for a zoo building nationwide. Its “green” technology includes: use of recycled materials and rammed earth; insulation made from scrap cotton; clay-based and non-toxic paints; rainwater harvesting; sustainably made furnishings; corn based fabrics; solar panels and much more. For more information, go to www.tucsonzoo.org .