The Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the American Institute of Architects recently awarded Davis, Bowen & Friedel, Inc., Merit Awards for Excellence in Architecture for two projects: the Annapolis Daycare Center and the Smith Island Center. A jury of distinguished architects from the Delaware Chapter of the American Institute of Architects presided and deliberated over submitted entries from the Chesapeake Bay Chapter member firms. Five additional projects were recognized, including individual projects by Charles E. Anthony Architects, Good Architecture, Chesapeake Architects, Studio 3 Architects, and Bignell Watkins Hasser Architects. The Chesapeake Bay Chapter awards program is held annually to honor and recognize outstanding achievement in design and construction. Along with the architects' awards to Davis, Bowen & Friedel, Inc., recognition was also given to the Owners and Contractors for each project. The State of Maryland and Willow Construction of Easton, respectively, were honored for the Annapolis Day Care Center. Likewise, the Commissioners of Somerset County and Gillis Gilkerson, Inc., of Salisbury, Maryland were honored for the Smith Island Center.
The Smith Island Center was commissioned by the Commissioners of Somerset County in conjunction with the Crisfield/Smith Island Cultural Alliance for both the tourist industry as an orientation to island life during the summer months and as a social hall for the islanders at all times. The siting of the Center, adjacent to marsh and roads, provided the opportunity to design a building for social interaction of people otherwise isolated from the mainland, and one equally respective of the wetlands and related wildlife. The building's low- pitched single story roof is reminiscent of the island's architecture, as are the materials. The clerestory windows, which allow natural light into the center of the Social Hall, are patterned as the last in a numerous series of channel markers guiding the island's watermen in from the bay.
Dwight Miller of Gillis Gilkerson, Inc. supervised the challenging project of building the Center, a difficult task when considering most labor and materials required transport from the mainland by boat. Former Commissioner Phil Gerald, County Administrator Charles Massey and Midge Patterson of the Cultural Alliance spearheaded the effort to ensure that the project became realty for Smith Island.
"The primary challenge to us, as designers," says Michael Wigley, AIA, Principal Architect for the project, "was to design a building that on the one hand would be of high interest to Smith Island visitors during the tourist season, but on the other be one that the islanders themselves would embrace as an integral part of their community. The feedback we have received from both visitors and islanders alike has been very positive."