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rendering of kitchen with vaulted ceiling and skylights

Forest Canopy Cabin by Laura Killam Architecture; Image courtesy Laura Killam Architecture

GRAY Media announces the breakout category, on the boards finalists for the 7th Annual GRAY Awards.

SEATTLE, Febraury 19, 2024 — Now in its 7th year, GRAY Awards — the international cross-disciplinary design awards program — continues to recognize the outstanding work happening around the world. Finalists have been selected in the fields of ARCHITECTURE, INTERIORS, LANDSCAPE, and PRODUCT DESIGN.

Designers and manufacturers were invited to submit their projects in nine judges categories plus an editors’ pick Design for Good category. An esteemed panel of international design luminaries will select a winner in each of the initial nine categories. The winning designers will receive print and digital recognition as well as a custom designed trophy by acclaimed glass artist John Hogan.

GRAY encourages designers and manufacturers to create "Design for Good" projects —projects that have made a positive impact through design on a humanitarian, community, or environmental issue — and offers an award dedicated to these works each year.

In 2020, when the GRAY Awards expanded from a regional to international program, GRAY added a Legacy Award dedicated exclusively to a Pacific Northwest-based designer's lifetime achievement, honoring the region where GRAY began and the home to the GRAY Awards Parties. GRAY will name the next Legacy at the Party.

Newly introduced at the 6th annual GRAY Awards last year, GRAY added several Breakout Categories, opening up opportunities to win GRAY Awards in micro-categories from Kitchens to Collaborations.

All winners will be announced at the GRAY Awards Party in Seattle in March, 2024 at Block 41, Seattle. The party is one of the most highly anticipated design bashes of the year, where all guests are treated like winners.

To purchase tickets, visit the 7th annual GRAY Awards Party page.


design judges black and white portraits

It is our privilege each year to welcome an international group of distinguished creatives to the GRAY Awards judging panel. Each working at the top of their game, these professionals now focus a discerning eye on determining the winners of the coveted GRAY Awards trophies.

7th annual GRAY Awards judging panel: Lee Broom, Brigitte Shim, Alessandro Munge, Silvia Tcherassi, Stephen Burks

rendering of kitchen with vaulted ceiling and skylights

Forest Canopy Cabin by Laura Killam Architecture

Image courtesy Laura Killam Architecture

On a remote off-grid island, the Forest Canopy Cabin is sited on the high bank of a forested peninsula that leads to a rocky headland. With a prospect out to the Salish Sea, the site is enveloped in birdsong and the gentle lull of the lapping water below. When the weather turns, storm winds whistle through the forest from either side of the peninsula. The site receives morning sun from the southeast and basks in the late summer sun setting in the northwest. Delighting in the dynamic play of sunlight and shadow passing through the forest canopy over the course of a day became the main objectives for the architectural response.

The client couple requested a modest three-season cabin in the woods with deep covered decks to relish in the afternoon light and provide refuge from the winds. With visiting adult children and occasional guests, the design provides a quiet retreat with a transparent, central social room anchored on either side by private spaces. Abundant glazing invites the sunrise in the morning on one side and the sunset in the evenings on the other side. A twenty-two foot long, south-facing skylight frames views of the forest canopy above. South light from the high skylight penetrates through the cabin to the deep, covered, northwest facing oceanside deck. Wood slats across the skylight bays create patterned light and shadow that track around the interior, registering the passage of time. Glazing at each end of the cabin provides long views out to the forest. While the cabin provides a refuge from the elements, the transparency serves to engage the occupants with their surroundings.

exterior rendering of building with wood slats

Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant by The Miller Hull Partnership, Local Practice Architecture + Design, and space2place

Image courtesy The Miller Hull Partnership

Located on xwəyeyət (Iona Island) in Richmond, BC, the Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant (IIWWTP) occupies a complex site of intersecting human and ecological systems. Situated directly across from xwməθkwəy̓ əm/Musqueam, in the Fraser River Estuary, and in the middle of Iona Beach Regional Park, the existing treatment facility is one of the last wastewater treatment plants in North America’s west coast with only primary level treatment. The IIWWTP Projects will upgrade the existing plant to tertiary-level treatment with a complementary range of ecological restoration projects developed to restore the ecological processes of north Sturgeon Bank and protect the diversity of ecosystems on Iona Island. Achieving these complex goals involves contemporary challenges such as climate change adaptation, engaging with diverse stakeholders, coordinating a large multidisciplinary team, and working within sensitive ecosystems and multiple jurisdictions.

Initiated in 2018, the project adopted an Integrated Design Process (IDP), bringing together multi-disciplinary expertise including engineering, architecture, landscape architecture, ecology, and archaeology. Working closely with Metro Vancouver staff through the IDP, ecological and cultural considerations were integrated from the earliest stages of this significant infrastructure project, resulting in the protection of sensitive ecologies and restoring natural systems that had been interrupted by anthropomorphic interventions over the last 100 years. These considerations were not contemplated as part of the original project brief but were identified as key drivers by the design team through the Project Definition Phase and were adopted by Metro Vancouver as essential elements.

The defining issues for this project are ecological restoration and climate adaptation. Natural estuarine processes in the Fraser Estuary have been disrupted by existing infrastructure, directly impacting juvenile salmon and other aquatic species. This project will reconnect the river and sea by reopening the causeway, creating off-channel habitat, and restoring intertidal wetlands—efforts that will help out-migrating juvenile salmon access critical rearing habitat. Regenerating and expanding the freshwater wetland complex and restoring upland areas will enhance native and novel habitats and benefit numerous aquatic and terrestrial species, including the many birds that use Iona Island as a stopover on the Pacific Flyway.

interior or bar with neutral colors and repeated lighting

Image courtesy Drummond Projects

Nestled within the historic 1861 Oriental Building in a bustling area of Washington, DC’s Penn Quarter neighborhood, an alluring and moody ambient dining atmosphere at a new conceptual restaurant, Kata, transports and leaps us into the future. A sky of linear light strips in repetition stretch across cove ceilings along with reflective mirrors down the walls of the bar area, resulting in a contained, intimate space much like a vessel. Guests are initiated into a pan-Asian culinary voyage of cross- cultural aromas and influences such as yuzu lychee and sakura.

At the center of the sensorial 66-seat restaurant, the bar becomes not only a performative stage for the function of cocktails and other libations but also for deejays to spin records and play our favorites in hip hop and other contemporary sounds.

An elegant duality of light and dark permeates throughout—neutral sand tones on plastered walls and bronze ribbed glass are contrasted by black mirror, tile and textiles in the entry, private dining rooms and communal spaces. Hints of color and textural surfaces are interspersed to create visual interest and stimulate touch. Both long and curved banquettes extend the length of the east perimeter wall and inner dining nooks to reinforce continuity of form and material. Plush, rounded and shell-shaped seating along with bar tables mirror the curvilinear silhouettes of the prolific archways which are echoed down the long corridor that adjoin all the various programmed spaces including the kitchen and washrooms.

With reverence for the luxurious listening bars of Tokyo and Seoul, Kata is designed for the globally-minded. A fusion dining and entertainment experience within a futuristic world here allows guests to travel well beyondDC without having to ever leave it.

rendering of desert home exterior

Image courtesy Daniel Joseph Chenin, Ltd.

Sitting at an elevation of 2,995 feet with panoramic views of the Las Vegas Valley and surrounding foothills, M20 is a private residence nestled in the Nevada desert. The design seeks to create sculptural and experiential spaces without compromising orthogonal efficiency. Beginning with a rectangular mass, the program was split and rotated to create a central courtyard so that all spaces would have access to views, natural light, and airflow.

Ecological preservation was integral to the design using massing and materials to blend the structure with the land to maintain the site’s character. The long and low-slung roofline mimics the horizontality of the surrounding desert plateaus. Exaggerated roof overhangs and chamfered wall detailing surrounding glazed openings mimic the surrounding slot canyons. These deep-set fenestrations provide protected access to views, light, and airflow.

Operable fenestration removes boundaries separating indoors and out allowing natural airflow and daylighting, eliminating need for artificial light during the day while reducing the number of days requiring cooling. Battered walls carry through to the interior from the façade compressing and expanding the spatial perception establishing a sense of movement. Transparent halls and pocket gardens allow the desert to spill into the home while creating a more thermally stable space and a deeper connection to the site.

A study in spatial efficiency, every room is carefully calibrated to maximize usable space, with hidden storage solutions and clever built-ins to achieve a minimalist aesthetic without sacrificing functionality. The architectural and interior material palette is curated and restrained. The sandy-toned, limestone façade is compatible with the surrounding desert and is accentuated with COR-TEN steel inspired by the rust tones of the adjacent Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Polished concrete flooring, natural wood, and tactile textured surfaces create a calming interior that allow the curated collection of furnishings and artwork to take center stage.

rendering of desert home exterior

Valley House by ANACAPA Architecture

Image courtesy ANACAPA Architecture

Conceptualized as a contemporary ruin that could have existed in this location for centuries, a series of earthen walls serve as the primary organizational element and a means of creating a sense of solidity and rootedness to the physical site. Spread over 2 acres, these rectilinear walls stand as powerful, grounding elements that create a sense of connectivity between the four independent structures that comprise the property. Crafted from rammed earth, they anchor the building to the site, instilling the project with a profound sense of rootedness and belonging. This connection to the land bestows the architecture an effortless sense of belonging and a timeless quality.

Inside these monumental walls, the interior spaces serve as a calming sanctuary, reconnecting the occupant with nature, light, and shadow as a means of breaking from the frenetic pace of daily life. Delicate roofs are elegantly inserted between the parallel walls, providing shelter while allowing nature to seep in. The roofs, interior wooden walls, and delicately crafted screening elements counterbalance the mass of the rammed earth walls. They bring the scale down to a more human level, creating functional spaces that exude a sense of subtle drama as the day unfolds.

Marrying the strength of earthen walls and the rugged beauty of local stone with the site’s wild landscape, the project is a testament to the harmonizing of elements. The organic and rectilinear acting as compliments to one another as this contemporary ruin ensures its place in time. Offering a sense of belonging and warmth through its carefully crafted interior and robust exterior.

7th Annual GRAY Awards finalists' announcements began December 18, 2023 and will continue to publish daily until all categories have been announced. For more information, visit our GRAY Awards Party page.


Thank you to our 7th annual GRAY Awards sponsors and industry partners:


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