In its fifth year, the Shaw Contract Group Design Is… Award program honored firms using a broad definition of design. “Every project is unique except for the uniting factor of how design can impact people working, people healing, people learning, and people creating,” said John Stephens, vp marketing for Shaw Contract Group.  

The winners for 2010 are:

Westparks+Associates(Thornhill, Ontario) for a project in the corporate headquarters for Cara Operations, a leading restaurant and airlines services company. The custom built LEED Gold facility encourages associates to circulate, interact and collaborate.

id+s Design Solutions(Montreal) inspires innovative thinking and problem solving at Heenan Blaikie, one of Canada’s leading law firms. Moveable walls and sliding glass doors were used to open conference rooms to public areas, creating a more functional and flexible space. id+s delivered color in a simplistic, yet surprising manner while preserving a neutral palette of finishes and materials.

EwingCole(Philadelphia) for a project at the AtlantiCare Cancer Care Institute. The use of natural materials, sunlight and access to outside views allow patients to focus on positive life affirming elements. The layout of the space fosters organizational efficiency by incorporating staff preferences and best practices.

Perkins + Will(Minneapolis) for a project for a North Dakota-based software developer. Work process and flow was examined to identify the obstacles to productivity. The design team then created a space that fostered concentration, while balancing the need for a collaborative, team-centered environment with linear wood architecture elements.

Richärd + Bauer(Phoenix) for a project at the Prescott Valley Public Library. The building was built using sustainable materials and is easy to maintain. Interior lighting elements are inspired by heliographs, creating a comfortable living room type environment in lieu of harsh institutional lighting. The large facility offers clear sightlines for staff and way finding elements to easily direct patrons to appropriate areas.

Cynthia Urbanik Interiors(Charlotte) for Dress for Success, an organization focused on changing the lives of disadvantaged women. Designing for a non-profit organization with a tight budget, the firm solicited materials from multiple manufacturers. Bold colors and elegant finishes were chosen to specifically make women patrons feel beautiful, elegant and empowered. Cynthia Urbanik Interiors also received the People’s Choice Award. Voting for the People’s Choice Award was conducted at where 12 finalists were profiled. Over 350,000 votes were cast during June and July.

Five distinguished members of the design community served as judges, who narrowed over 250 submissions from 13 countries, based on criteria which exemplified design solutions beyond aesthetic quality. Judges reviewed the challenges, processes and results of each project and how each design team defined design. The panel included: John Cary president and CEO of Next American City and author of “The Power of Pro Bono”; Christine Hester Devens, senior project designer with  Ellerbe Becket; Daniel Huntsman, founder of Huntsman Architectural Group; Jennifer L. Nye, senior interior designer with KlingStubbins; and Martin Smith, executive director for design and new construction at Savannah College of Art and Design.

Winning firms will be recognized in an upcoming advertising campaign in leading industry publications and receive an original award sculpture. A $2,000 scholarship in the name of each winning firm will be awarded to the program or organization of the firm’s choosing. Shaw Contract Group will also promote its winners through promotional and marketing materials.

For a video and images of the winners, Firms can currently enter the 2011 Design Is… Award competition