Paul Hirzel received the prestigious American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Housing Committee Award for a custom single-family home, designating Hirzel’s project one of the top designs in the country.

Hirzel, associate professor in the School of Architecture and Construction Management at Washington State University, received the award for the design of The Canyon House, which overlooks the Clearwater River upstream from Lewiston, Idaho.

The AIA’s Housing Awards Program 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 categories: community design, single-family housing, multifamily housing, and innovation in housing design.

Hirzel designed the house for Kenneth Campbell, a professor of physiology and bioengineering at WSU. As Campbell struggled to build on the steep site, his daughter Ellen, who took Hirzel’s site design class in the late 1990s, suggested he contact Hirzel.  Hirzel in turn suggested that Campbell 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. “It has a real presence that is integrated, but not overpowering.”

Hirzel also received an award from the American Institute of Architects, Seattle, for the same project. The other award winners for 2004 were designers of the Seattle Central Library, which is being called one of the most significant buildings of the 21st century, and the Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, home of the Pacific Northwest Ballet and the Seattle Opera.