The winners of the seventh annual AIA Film Challenge have been announced. Four documentaries from around the country with a focus on architecture and the built environment were awarded cash prizes totaling $12,000.
Check out the winning entries below and watch all the latest Film Challenge submissions here.
Grand Prize Winner: POP Courts! by filmmaker Brodie Kerst and Lamar Johnson Collaborative
POP Courts!, 2021 from AIA on Vimeo
Description: "PopCourts is a pop-up park in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago’s Westside. Imagined as a respite from the challenges brought on by the pandemic, PopCourts provides much-needed outdoor amenity space in the heart of Austin. Situated in the middle of the “Soul City Corridor” along Chicago Avenue identified by the City’s Invest SouthWest initiative, PopCourts is part of a larger vision to bring development to Chicago’s underinvested, and primarily black and brown communities."
Runner Up: Listen. by filmmaker Francisco Lopez de Arenosa
Listen., 2021 from AIA on Vimeo.
Description: "Once an ecological sanctuary dominated by wetlands, the Calumet Region was altered by more than a century of industrialization. With little to no environmental regulations until the 1970s, Big Marsh Park is the Chicago Park District’s largest reclamation project—a natural landscape damaged by slag from nearby steel mills. But in recent years, restorative efforts have aimed to set the park on a new course where industry, nature and culture can safely coexist. Big Marsh Park is now home to a 45-acre bike park and a series of walking trails that provide eco-recreation opportunities in Chicago’s Southeast Side. At the park’s entrance, the Ford Calumet Environmental Center serves as both a gateway and a hub—educating visitors about its past and setting precedent for a new, sustainable future throughout the Calumet Region."
Third Place: Two Piece of Plywood by filmmaker Kevin Moravec
Two Pieces of Plywood, 2021 from AIA on Vimeo.
Description: "Can great design be as simple as two pieces of plywood? And can something that simple inspire change? The 2020 general election was accompanied by a wave of targeted laws and voter suppression tactics. While shocking to many, this was not a new occurrence, particularly for minority and lower-income communities. But in a time when these same communities were already bearing the brunt of a global pandemic, new hindrances to the voting process seemed to be a brazen attempt to silence marginalized voices. In response, grassroots efforts quickly sprung up in cities across the country, organizing volunteers and campaigns to keep voters engaged and informed. This film shares the story of one campaign - Curbside Notary in Kansas City, Missouri. Specifically, how two simple pieces of plywood became a vessel for community conversation and action."
People's Choice Award: A Jewel in Appalachia by filmmaker Alex Michl
A Jewel In Appalachia, 2021 from AIA on Vimeo.
Description: "Louisa is the small-county seat of 2,327, in Kentucky’s largest county. It is a familiar place, where neighbors may or may not be friends, but they can probably tell stories about one another. It’s a place where the majority of the 4,000 residents have both grown up and old together. It’s a place of scarcity. Yet it is also a place many do not leave. Carlie Pelfrey did. But, she also came back. After a career in television broadcasting, she returned to her hometown as the director of the Lawrence County Public Library. She came back with a vision for a library that would house hope not just books. It would be a beacon for learning in a place where light can struggle to break through poverty’s pervasive darkness. The original 1960s building with limited windows and collection space, high shelves, hidden and inadequate seating and storage, could not deliver on that promise. So, together with library designers at OPN Architects, Pelfrey and her board embarked on a transformation of the library into a jewel for its community and for Appalachia. They were committed to a process and a promise for a renovation that would create an epicenter for the county; embrace justice, equity, and care; address challenges head on; highlight access and opportunity; and most importantly celebrate the belief that a modern library can thrive anywhere. The renovated library, which opened in February 2020, manifests this mission. It is transparent, accessible, flexible, easy to navigate, promotes digital literacy, and is welcoming and inclusive to all ages. The library is prideful without being ostentatious. It is now a place where a love for learning is on display, showing residents that they deserve to aspire for better. The Lawrence County Public Library is an act of love."
This year's jury was made up of AIA 2021 First Vice President/2022 President Dan Hart, FAIA; 2020 Grand Prize Winner John Gordon; Midland Architecture Principal Greg Dutton, Assoc. AIA; and Perkins&Will Principal and Director of Global Diversity Gabrielle Bullock, FAIA.
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