MArch Alum Wins a 2020 AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Student Design Award

architectural rendering of the exterior of a library

On September 24, the American Institute of Architects Northwest & Pacific Region Student Design Awards presented alum Austin Gutierrez (MArch Track II, ’20) with the Citation Award for his project featuring the Springfield Public Library.

“Some may argue, to design a library now, one must design for the future where it becomes less about the books and more about computers and technology. Well, for many in the community of Springfield, the library is primarily a place for shelter, refuge, and peace of mind. While monumental in stature, its delicate wood structure allows for individual exploration. And that’s what this library is all about, the people, as it should be,” Gutierrez wrote about his work.Photo of Austin Gutierrez

Gutierrez, who graduated in June, created this for his terminal project for the Advanced Architectural Design studio taught by Associate Professor of Architecture Virginia Cartwright. The studio began winter term with a focus on design principles and concepts to develop a schematic design for the Springfield Public Library and culminated spring term with further exploration of structure, light, building health, and sustainable design methods. The library design features a courtyard, spaces for children and adults, and a mass-timber construction made up of two independent structures: a double-skin façade and an internal post-and-beam structure.

Cartwright said that Gutierrez’s project is both simple and powerful.

“The Springfield Public Library envisions a new facility where anyone can freely enter; where there are children and adults; where there are places to read and places to study; where anyone can stay all day; where there are books of paper and audio books; where there are musical recordings; where there are movies; where there is storytelling and reading out loud; where there are meeting rooms; where there are computers and internet. A truly public place,” Cartwright said. “Austin’s design proposal for the library embodies the ideas and dreams that Springfield holds for its library. The rooms are made by shelves of books. The connection to place is through windows to the surrounding gardens, and the structure itself is of wood, the industry that founded the city itself. The wood structure is both utilitarian and ornament—a beautiful expression of the community.”

“Austin’s project shows how an elegantly detailed minimalist design can have a powerful presence,” added Nancy Cheng, the head of the Department of Architecture. 

This building, Gutierrez says, is an embodied image of Springfield’s current social contexts, history, and future, and strives to pertain to the individual’s experience and progression through a community place that cares for its occupants.

Gutierrez said the Springfield Public Library project has also been submitted to the 2020 AIA Eugene People’s Choice Awards; voting closes October 15.

This July, Gutierrez took an architectural designer position with the global architecture firm DLR Group’s Portland office, where he works in the justice and civic sector.