Winners of the 2019 American Institute of Architects Los Angeles (AIA|LA)
Restaurant Design Awards Announced
People’s Choice Winners Also Revealed

+ 2019 Restaurant Design Award Winning Images

(For a complete list of winners plus jury notes, scroll down.)

Saturday, June 22, 2019 (Los Angeles)—Restaurants, bars, cafes, and lounges from as far afield as Toronto, Canada, Austin, Texas, and Detroit, Michigan were among the fourteen winners of the 2019 American Institute of Architects Los Angeles chapter (AIA|LA) Restaurant Design Awards announced in DTLA tonight.

The awards program, now well into its second decade, celebrates and encourages design excellence that must resolve demanding functional needs while furnishing exemplary placemaking.

Winners were awarded in three categories: Restaurants, Café/Bars, Lounge/Nightclubs. Three levels of awards were noted: Honor, Merit, and Citation, with Honor representing the highest ranking.

A “People’s Choice Award” winner was also awarded in each category. Online voters selecting their favorite from among 25 “finalists” chosen by the 2019 AIA|LA Restaurant Design Awards jury. Each year, a designer with strong restaurant design experience, a restaurateur, and a food critic serve on the RDA jury. The 2019 jury was composed of: Ezequiel Farca, Intl. Assoc. AIA – CEO/Founder, Ezequiel Farca; Hans Rockenwagner – Owner, Rockenwagner Bakeries/Cafes; and Garrett Snyder – Food Editor, Los Angeles Magazine.

At the awards ceremony, which was held at the LA Design Festival, Rockenwagner and Snyder bestowed the honors along with designer and restaurateur Barbara Lazaroff. Rounding out the presentation, literally, were the awards themselves: custom-engraved plates fabricated by NotNeutral.

AIA|LA Executive Director Carlo Caccavale, Hon. AIA|LA, hosted the evening and moderated the AIA|LA’s “Behind Great Restaurant Design” panel immediately preceding the ceremony. The panel provided illuminating backstory into the design process of RDA finalists (as provided by the designers themselves) as well as insights from Rockenwagner.

The 2019 AIA|LA Restaurant Design Awards Winners are:


Honor Award, Restaurant:
auburn (Los Angeles, California.) Designed by: ORA and Klein Agency. Photo: Nicole Franzen.
Understated elegance. | Nothing is out of proportion. |There’s a nice use of empty space – it’s allowed to breathe.

Honor Award, Restaurant:
Vespertine (Culver City, California.) Designed by: Eric Owen Moss Architects. Photo: Tom Bonner Photography.
This could have easily turned very contrived, but didn’t. | It channels your experience of the building itself. | The experience is the architecture, the design, and the food.

Merit Award, Restaurant:
Loro (Austin, Texas.) Designed by: Michael Hsu Office of Architecture. Photo: Casey Dunn.
It’s beautifully designed—the exposed beams and how the materials are managed with the combination of the different woods. | All of the it is very well done. | It has a modern ranch feel. | We like the paying of homage to the Texas oak roads. It makes us want to be in Austin.

Merit Award, Restaurant:
Westheimer Restaurant (Houston, Texas.) Designed by: A Parallel Architecture. Photo: Chase Daniel.
This is an example of how you can emphasize function while still having good design. | This is obviously—from the layout of the tables—very functional, very efficient, but there are elements you look for in good modern design.

Citation Award, Restaurant:
Jeune et Jolie (Carlsbad, California.) Designed by: Bells + Whistles. Photo: Lily Glass.
A Parisian bistro filtered through a California-beach lens. | It’s familiar but also feels like something we haven’t seen quite put together. | The kitchen really adds to the entire experience and the dining mood. | The layout takes advantage of the space, bringing all of this roundness to it. | For a small space, it’s very balanced.

Citation Award, Restaurant:
La Lucha (Houston, Texas.) Designed by: Michael Hsu Office of Architecture. Photo: Chase Daniel.
Great details. Whether it’s the cabinetry or some of the wall art or the pattern in the ceiling – even if it isn’t always entirely cohesive—at every point, there was a great amount of thought given to details. | We like its quirkiness.

Citation Award, Restaurant:
Prime + Proper (Detroit, Michigan.) Designed by: McIntosh Poris Associates. Photo: Michelle and Chris Gerard.
It takes full advantage of the location—of being in Detroit. | It’s statement making: it telegraphs opulence and decadence. | It is almost like being in a gallery.


Honor Award, Café/Bar:
Sidecar Doughnuts (Del Mar, California.) Designed by: Fleetwood Fernandez Architects. Photo: Benny Chan.
It plays really well into the theme of the donuts. | In the scale of that space, it’s very well proportioned, it’s very well executed. | The way the menus are integrated into the wall, the flavors being on the wall—is very well thought out.

Merit Award, Café/Bar:
The Heroic (Santa Monica, California.) Designed by: Preen, Inc. Photo: Brandon Barre.
This was a striking space—the way the light fixture comes from the upper floor down to the lower floor. | The use of the textures—it’s not overdone. | It offers a lot of visual eye candy without overdoing it. | The furniture design adds a lot to the design.

Citation Award, Café/Bar:
P6 (Austin, Texas.) Designed by: Michael Hsu Office of Architecture. Photo: Chase Daniel.
We like the natural light and the openness. | It’s nice when you see that it doesn’t seem to be in a building; it could be in a backyard, it could be anywhere.


Merit Award, Lounge/Nightclub:
Bar Henry (Los Angeles, California.) Designed by: Aero Collective. Photo: Brett Rubin.
A very warm inviting vibe. | It draws you in. | The space between the bar and the seating area is really thought out for people to mingle or dance. | It’s a space meant for people.

Merit Award, Lounge/Nightclub:
Raised By Wolves (San Diego, California.) Designed by: BASILE Studio. Photo: Zack Benson.
We respect the vision. | The atrium with the carousel is a very well thought out space. | The pivoting wall and the layout are interesting.

Citation Award, Lounge/Nightclub:
The Fillmore New Orleans (New Orleans, Louisiana.) Designed by: EwingCole. Photo: Halkin/Mason Photography.
We love the touch of the candles of different lengths over and arranged around the bar. It highlights the voodoo theme nicely. | This is all about the mood.

Citation Award, Lounge/Nightclub:
LOUIX LOUIS, (Toronto, Canada.) Designed by: DesignAgency. Photo: Brandon Barre.
The details stand out: whether it’s a light fixture or some of the bar fixtures, there is a level of attention to detail you might not see at a hotel bar. | We like the play on the theme of liquid against cut glass.


Winner, Restaurant:
Prime + Proper (Detroit, Michigan.) Designed by: McIntosh Poris Associates. Photo: Michelle and Chris Gerard.

Winner, Café/Bar:
Sidecar Doughnuts (Del Mar, California.) Designed by: Fleetwood Fernandez Architects. Photo: Benny Chan.

Winner, Lounge/Nightclub:
Bar Henry (Los Angeles, California). Designed by Aero Collective. Photo: Brett Rubin.

Preceding the announcement of winners, designers participated the AIA|LA’s annual “Behind Great Restaurant Design.” The panel provides an illuminating and engaging look at the design process of each restaurant, café or bar, and jury thoughts on successful qualities in each.

About the AIA|LA Restaurant Design Awards
Now in its, fifteenth year, the AIA|LA RDAs have served as a launching point for talented new designers who have subsequently establish themselves as innovative successful designers in the typology. Alexis Readinger, Assoc. AIA, of Preen, Inc., and Catherine Johnson, AIA, and Rebecca Rudolph, AIA, of Design, Bitches, are RDA alumni as winners. RDA recipients have also included well-established architects realizing prestigious and popular restaurants locally, nationally, and abroad such as Montalba Architects and Belzberg Architects. Though the RDAs invite and celebrate entries from across the globe, the tenure of the awards program parallels the rise of Los Angeles as a culinary capital.

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Tibby Rothman, Hon. AIA|LA
Director, Marketing and Public Relations
c: 213.639.0763