Margarita McGrath, assistant architecture professor in Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies, has been named a winner of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2006 Housing Committee Awards, single-family custom housing category, and the recipient of a jury commendation in the AIA Small Practice Award Program. McGrath shares this honor with Scott Oliver, her partner in noroof architects, their Brooklyn-based design firm, for the Slot House renovation.

The renovation of Slot House, a small row house in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, was framed around the decision to preserve a 60-foot-tall maple tree that stands in the front courtyard. McGrath and Oliver designed a slot-like window in the facade to provide a view of the tree from the inside and then carried the spatial idea of the slot throughout the design to extend the house vertically and horizontally. The interior features cedar planes, metal screens, and steel grates set into the second floor to allow daylight to penetrate into the bedroom below.

“While the original property was otherwise unremarkable, demolition revealed a cedar and brick structure and split roof beam. The design developed through inspiration and adjustments responding to these discoveries and the limitations of the budget, construction crew and trades. The resulting interior is an open, vertical ‘loft’ that reveals the archaeology of the original structure while introducing new compositional and material families,” said the architects.

The Housing Awards program, now in its sixth year, recognizes the best in housing design and promotes the importance of good housing as a necessity of life, a sanctuary for the human spirit, and a valuable national resource. McGrath will be recognized on Friday, June 9 at the AIA 2006 National Convention and Design Expo in Los Angeles. Her work will also be published in Issue 39 of Small Project Practitioners eJournal in September and exhibited at the June convention.

Jury members said that the project has “great innovative detailing on the inside” and the “architects really worked overtime in coming up with good, creative, three-dimensional ideas.”

McGrath, a resident of Blacksburg and Brooklyn, has been teaching at Virginia Tech since 2001. She received her professional degree from Rice University and her master’s degree from UCLA. Her concentration lies in relationships that frame space, the perception of invisible spatial conditions, and acuity at different scales. McGrath formed noroof architects with Oliver in 1994.

The College of Architecture and Urban Studies is one of the largest of its type in the nation. The college is composed of two schools and the departments of landscape architecture, building construction, and art and art history. The School of Architecture + Design includes programs in architecture, industrial design and interior design. The School of Public and International Affairs includes programs in urban affairs and planning, public administration and policy, and government and international affairs. The college enrolls more than 2,000 students offering 22 degrees programs taught by 160 faculty members.

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