The St. Paul architecture firm Alchemy Architects, founded by Geoffrey Warner (B.Arch '89), received a 2012 Small Project Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) during an awards ceremony on May 17 in Washington D.C. Alchemy facilitates experimentation with, and the production of, key elements that are part of larger projects, from weeHouses to lofted condos.
The award was for Alchemy's work on SPECS Optical Facade, an optical shop in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis. Landscape beautification installed by the city obscured their storefront, and sign code limitations prevented the shop from using signage that would be visible behind the trees and bushes. Alchemy created a crystalline envelope of 5/8" thick greenhouse polycarbonate that "grows" out of the storefront openings. The skin is manipulated to form offset and distorted frames around the existing windows to bring together ideas of frame and optics.
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