New judging system confirms GOHBA members’ design leadership

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gohba housing design

Ottawa Construction News staff writer

Judges for the 2014 Housing Design Awards worked under a new system, designed to allow out-of-town judges to participate in the selection process, and to give them more time to review each entry individually.

Chris Hewett, an Algonquin College professor of architectural technology, said in previous years, judges visited the GOHBA offices and spent either one or two intensive days reviewing display boards in the association’s boardroom. (The two-day judging occurred when there was an initial review to determine the finalists; but last year, this process was compressed to a single day.)

This year, everything went online. The judges had access to a secure private website, where they could review the entries over a three week period at their convenience. They voted through drop-down boxes on ratings criteria set by the GOHBA for each of the entries.

Hewett said the new process reduced the work intensity, but he estimated he spent twice as long on the judging effort.“I worked a few hours here and there” over several days through the judging period to complete the process.

He said he could understand the reason for the change and said he appreciated there were advantages in introducing new judges.

Despite the new voting system and new judges without familiarity with Ottawa’s design community, many old-time winners including Christopher Simmonds Architects returned with an impressive number of trophies.

Judge Tim Scott, a partner with XTC Design Inc., a Toronto-based kitchen and bath designer, said: “There were many things that grabbed my attention and stood out for me, but the most appealing element was the return to good, clean contemporary design.

“This was very refreshing,” Scott said.  “Most of the winning projects and especially those that stood out for me used simple, natural materials and incorporated good function with uncluttered, fresh design.

Meanwhile, Enza Tiberi-Checchia of Decorenza Inc., a decor service provider to new home builders, also from Toronto, said the judging “opened my eyes to just how much more of the contemporary design there is in Ottawa vs. Toronto.”

The best entries shared in common “attention to detail and creativity in unusual spaces to get the most utilization.”

Hewett, who has been a judge in several previous Housing Design Awards competitions, said he liked the way some entries “were trying new thoughts, new concepts, not necessarily modern, trying new things, in a diverse market out there with multiple buyers.”

He noticed the “very clean lines, and very modern stylings” in tract homes and more intriguing custom design features for higher-end homes.

Other judges included:  Ani Bogovic, business development manager of the Reno and Decor at Homes Publishing Group; Steven Crowell, president of Crowell Construction in Nova Scotia; David Small, principal and architect with David Small Designs, Doug Tarry, director of marketing and lead designer of Doug Tarry Homes and James Bazely, owner/operator of Gregor Homes.

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