The Housing Chronicles Blog: The 2018 Gold Nugget Winners: High Art in Architecture, Design and Land Use

Monday, July 9, 2018

The 2018 Gold Nugget Winners: High Art in Architecture, Design and Land Use

One of the things I like best about the building industry is the enormous creativity involved in every stage of the process, especially for decisions made about architecture, design and land use.  This was certainly true again for this year’s Gold Nugget winners at PCBC, ranging from rehabs which are both practical and inspiring, to master plans which seemed to effortlessly take the pulse of today’s culture while still making them relevant to future residents. Following are some profiles of winners in key categories.

There were actually two winners for Best Masterplan Community, divided among urban and suburban locations.  In Honolulu, Ward Village by Howard Hughes Corp. re-imagined a 60-acre parcel once known for heavy industry and commercial fishing into the largest certified LEED-ND Platinum (Neighborhood Development) project of its kind in the U.S.

In between the downtown area and the 30-acre Kewalo Harbor, 4,500 residential units, over one million square feet of retail space, a central plaza and rail station will emerge.  Best of all, by including scores of existing businesses in this redevelopment, Ward Village demonstrated clear respect for the local culture and history.

Yet it was Rancho Mission Viejo’s Esencia in Southern California which took multiple awards for not just Best Masterplan, but also Best Community Land Plan and Best Recreational Use Facility.  The true challenge here was how to best respect the terrain and ranching history of this 890-acre plan while still being able to develop nearly 2,750 homes, 60 acres of retail space and over 16 ranch-themed gathering places, clubhouses and Nature Center.

But the true selling point for Escenia was its integration into the 17,000 acres of an open space preserve, which will eventually become part of the 33,000-acre Southern Subregion Habitat Reserve, one of California’s largest.  The land plan itself was noted for retaining ranch elements including a yurt campground, oak groves, hillside trails and farming, all of which are intended to inspire future generations to respect the land.

In nearby Newport Coast, The New Home Company took top honors for Best Residential Detached Collection with Coral Canyon, an exclusive enclave of 27 homes offering canyon views with a resort feel.  Reportedly inspired by the easy pace of life on the Spanish island Ibiza, judges cited the way in which each home effortlessly blended into the next, creating a cohesive and memorable street scene characterized by neutral colors, bright interiors and flat roofs on all single-story elements.

For an individual, single-family home, it was Plan 9502 at Camelot Homes’ White Horse in Scottsdale, AZ which was named Home of the Year.  In this case, judges cited the way in which this plan updates the classic hacienda footprint into a modern feel, with numerous indoor-outdoor spaces to take advantage of the local climate.

Yet by orienting each of the 50 homes towards its center, the compounds created on these half-acre lots helped to mitigate noise from an adjacent six-lane highway.  The end result was a traditional-looking home outside that was more white-washed farmhouse inside, ultimately creating an unusually unique plan which judges noted “would set a future precedent for the evolution of production housing.”

Clever designs also abounded in the multi-family space, with Trumark Urban’s The Pacific winning Best Multi-Family Community due to what judges said was “transforming what was a detractor and neighborhood eyesore to an exemplary display of positive change.”  What Trumark was able to do was transform a mid-rise, 1960s-style school of dentistry in the middle of the upscale, built-out community of Pacific Heights in San Francisco into 76, LEED Gold-certified luxury condos and townhomes.

They did this by breaking up the previous, Brutalist exterior with a modern take on the classic bay window, repurposing a mechanical building on the roof into four penthouses with terraces, and masking the adjacent parking structure with ten, three-story townhomes. This lower elevation helped better tie the entire project into the lower-density neighborhood, while also improving the overall streetscape.

Finally, it was The Camden’s combination of 287 upscale apartments, a 40,000-square-foot Equinox health club and multiple gathering spaces to maximize socializing which earned this project by Camden Development top honors for Best Mixed-Use Project. 

Built on the site of Paramount Pictures’ first production building in the heart of Hollywood, CA, The Camden not only captures this entertainment-oriented history on a public art wall at the base of each tower, but intentionally markets its units to the young and local ‘industry’ types as not just a home, but also a very convenient place to network.

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