OPN’s Brown, Sorg serve on national library design award juries

If it takes walking a mile in someone else’s shoes to truly appreciate their journey, serving on an award jury is a similarly valuable reminder of how humbling it is as a designer for one’s work to be honored by an industry award.

After serving on this year’s AIA/ALA and ALA/IIDA Library Design Award juries, OPN Architects Principal Bradd Brown and Associate Mindy Sorg, both library design specialists at the firm, each appreciate this truth more acutely.

The Cedar Rapids Public Library was awarded the AIA/ALA Library Design Award in 2015 and the ALA/IIDA award in 2014. Each award, bestowed jointly by the American Library Association along with the American Institute of Architects and the International Interior Design Association respectively, recognizes excellence in the architectural design of libraries.

Seeing firsthand the field of worthy submissions this year reiterated to both Brown and Sorg that being library designers means being an active participant in the evolution of libraries from collection to community space.

Though there was a strong cohort of entries for both awards that quickly rose to the top, weeding further proved increasingly difficult, Brown said.

“The quality of designs varied from awesome to amazing. Truly once we got down to a dozen or so, paring down to final six was more of a challenge than I anticipated,” Brown said.

Ultimately seven libraries were selected for the 2016 AIA/ALA Library Building Awards and the ALA/IIDA Library Interior Design Awards.

Brown was one of six AIA/ALA jurors, including Lynn S. Grossman, AIA, Cannon Design; Kathleen Imhoff, Building Consultant; Ryan E. Kanteres, AIA, Scott Simons Architects; Susan Parker, UCLA Library; and Darro Willey, Library Facilities Consultant.

Sorg was one of four ALA/IIDA jurors, including Christy S. Cain, IIDA, idea | span; Stasia Czech Suleiman, IIDA, HOK; and Jessica Kayongo, Hesburgh Libraries, University of Notre Dame. She has also been asked to serve on the 2016-2017 ALA/IIDA Award Jury.

All of the 2016 honorees will be recognized at the ALA Annual Conference in from June 23 to 28 in Orlando, Florida.

Brown and Sorg will present Library of the Future – the Feasibility Study as a Catalyst for Change at the conference on June 26 at 10:30 a.m.

Collectively Brown and Sorg have designed more than 40 public libraries.  Leaders in innovative library designs, their work has been recognized with awards, in publications and through invitations to speak at many conferences, including Library of the Future – The Participatory Library in 2015 at the American Library Association’s national convention in June 2015.

Brown has been a principal with OPN Architects for more than 20 years. His portfolio reflects a diverse range of project and client types, however he is widely regarded for the planning and design of academic and public spaces, including libraries in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin.

As an associate, Sorg leads OPN’s interior design team and is the resident library and workplace of the future strategist. Her strengths extend beyond design with an expertise in engaging clients to create connections that make each design unique, inviting and flexible.