PULLMAN, Wash. — Paul Hirzel, faculty member with the Washington State University School of Architecture and Construction Management, is this year’s recipient of the prestigious American Institute of Architects’ Housing Committee Award for a custom single-family home, designating Hirzel’s project one of the top designs for a single-family home in the country.  

Hirzel received the award for the design of ‘The Canyon House,’ a home designed on a 40-acre property overlooking the Clearwater River upstream from Lewiston, Idaho.

The AIA’s Housing Awards Program, in its fifth year, is meant to recognize the best in housing design and to promote the importance of good housing. The jury recognized eight projects nationwide in four award categories that include community design, single-family housing, multifamily housing and innovation in housing design.

Canyon House was a rare instance where the builder, site, owner and architect all joined together to produce something that is treasured, Hirzel said. The site had such strength, and owner Kenneth Campbell, WSU professor of physiology and bioengineering, valued that, he said.

Campbell and Hirzel were brought together by Campbell’s daughter, Ellen, who took Hirzel’s site- design class in the late 1990s. As Campbell struggled to build on the challenging, steep site, his daughter suggested he contact Hirzel. After visiting the site, Campbell agreed with Hirzel’s suggestion that he construct two buildings on the property instead of one — a bunkhouse in a steep ravine and a studio house that looks down from a finger ridge. An important third part of the design was a nearby knoll, a favorite viewing spot that remains undeveloped.

“We like the simple forms carved out for different uses,” the jury said, in its comments on the project. “It has a real presence that is integrated but not overpowering.”

“Paul Hirzel successfully brings his projects from the realm of architecture into the realm of true art,” said Greg Kessler, director of the School of Architecture and Construction Management. “This award recognizes the excellence of his work and demonstrates the world-class caliber of our architecture faculty.”

Hirzel, along with the other seven award recipients, will be recognized May 20 at the AIA 2005 National Convention and Design Expo in Las Vegas.