Design Bosses

Sarasota Architects Sweep the 2023 Florida AIA Awards

"The Gulf Coast chapter is always well-represented, but this year was a standout," says AIA Gulf Coast president Damien Blumetti.

By Kim Doleatto August 10, 2023

This local project, Creek House, earned Sarasota-based Damien Blumetti Architect, Inc., an Honor Award.

Sarasota-based architects and their firms made out like The Bear at the Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects, (AIA Florida) 2023 Design and Honor Awards presentation last month, even against chapters in larger metropolitan cities like Miami, Palm Beach, Tampa and Orlando, which have at least double the membership. 

AIA Florida has more than 3,600 members and covers the Florida/Caribbean region including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. There are 13 chapters represented. To be eligible, submissions had to come from Florida-based firms and architects but could be executed anywhere in the world.  A body of experts convened this May in Panama City, Panama, to judge the submissions. Award levels are Honor, Merit and Citation.

"The Gulf Coast chapter is always well-represented, but this year was a standout year for our chapter and Sarasota, with multiple award winners running against much larger chapters," says AIA Gulf Coast chapter president and Sarasota-based architect Damien Blumetti, whose firm took home the most awards of all this year. Local firm Hive Architects, whose work has caught our attention before, took home two awards, as did Strang Design. A more recent addition to the local architecture scene—WJ Architects, which opened a Sarasota office last year—took home the Firm of the Year Award, which highlights criteria beyond design like company culture, equity and education.

Rendering of the future Art Center Manatee, in Bradenton, by WJ Architects. 

Hive Architects' Shibusa, in Sarasota, took home a Merit Award.

Sarasota-based Strang Design's Angel Oaks, in Coconut Grove, took home a Citation Award.

Sarasota-based Strang Design's Angel Oaks, in Coconut Grove, took home a Citation Award.

Other familiar local names that earned awards include revered architect Guy Peterson.

Guy Peterson | OFA Inc.'s­ Cherokee Park House in Sarasota took home a Citation Award.

And Sarasota-based Halflants + Pichette took home an award for USF's School of Architecture in Tampa.

Halflants + Pichette received a Citation Award for USF's School of Architecture in Tampa.

"I think Sarasota stands out for the high level of design we're producing while maintaining our own unique style for each firm. Throughout the body of work, the jury mentioned a good connection to the Sarasota School of Architecture," Blumetti adds. 

Case in point: the restoration of Lido Shores' beloved Umbrella House by Solstice Planning and Architecture, which was honored for historic preservation and restoration.

Soltice Planning and Architecture received a Merit Award for its Umbrella House façade restoration.

Blumetti also pointed out that this year's ceremony, held at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando late last month, was the highest-attended, at 750 people. It also drew the most submissions ever, at well over 250.

Winners weren't limited to residential projects—take a look at this fire station on Longboat Key by Sweet Sparkman Architecture & Interiors, which won AIA Florida Firm of the Year in 2018

Citation Award: Sweet Sparkman Architecture & Interiors,­­ Longboat Key Fire Station #92, Longboat Key,

Let's take a look at the rest of Sarasota's award-winning work. 

Honor Award: Damien Blumetti Architect,­ Inc., Boat House, Osprey, South Sarasota.

Merit Award: Guy Peterson | OFA Inc.,­ design architect, and Damien Blumetti Architects, architect of record, Shadow Pavilion, Casey Key, Sarasota.

Merit Award: Hive Architects,­ Shibusa interiors, Sarasota.

Honor Award: Strang Design,­ Wildwood Residence, Coconut Grove.

Merit Award: Damien Blumetti Architect, Inc., ­Bay House, Sarasota.

"I expect our architectural tradition and legacy in this community to continue. Sarasota is a relatively small place but full of amazing work," Blumetti says.

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