Design 2017: A Retrospective of Winning Work of The Awards for Excellence

See the mid-Atlantic’s finest examples of architecture, interior design and preservation projects from 2017 in the tenth annual exhibition featuring award-winning work from the region. This exhibit will be on view in the Branch’s Social Gallery from January 16th through February 25th.

Held annually, the Awards for Excellence recognizes projects no older than seven years that contribute thoughtful, engaging, resource-efficient, and appealing works to our architectural landscape.

The jury reviewed a total of 169 projects in five distinct categories for this year’s awards. This exhibition highlights the results of that process. The honored projects represent the highest degree of design excellence by Virginia-based architects and their professional colleagues for a broad range of clients in the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond.


This exhibition was generously made possible by AIA Virginia.


Frozen Music: Frank Gehry and the Walt Disney Opera House

The Branch Museum’s inaugural exhibit returns to our galleries after fifteen years! On view in our galleries February 12 – April 14 will be over 100 images of the construction of Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, photographed by Gil Garcetti.

Frank O. Gehry practiced on the fringe of the architectural mainstream before gaining worldwide renown. Early in his career, he worked to develop a personal style through experimentation on his own house and his furniture line of cardboard chairs, and he eventually became a prominent figure in Deconstructivism. The completed Walt Disney Concert Hall has begun to transform Los Angeles, making a “place” in the heart of an urban environment previously lacking in identity. As a work of art, the building’s curved planes of steel create unusual and inviting relationships that change by the hour with the movement of the sun. It is a masterpiece that reinforces Gehry’s reputation as an innovator capable of flexing the boundaries separating architecture from art.

In the summer of 2001, photographer Gil Garcetti drove past the energized construction site of the Walt Disney Concert Hall and was inspired by what he saw: high in the air, crawling precariously on top of an arched beam, was a man in a hard hat. Over a nine-month period, Garcetti developed relationships with the members of the Ironworkers Union Local 433. He moved from one steel beam to another without the benefit of a safety harness to document their exploits on one of the most challenging construction projects at the start of the 20th century.

In early 2003, Gil Garcetti returned to the Walt Disney Concert Hall after an acquaintance introduced him to the Hasselblad X-Pan II panoramic camera, through which he saw unique opportunities to capture the building’s new skin. The magical qualities of the building – its composition, form, shape, and the ever-changing light conditions – seduced Garcetti, who said, “We knew they were building a concert hall – a hall of unusual beauty. What most of us never realized was that they were also building hundreds of works of abstract art.”



Coming Soon:

Design-Build Challenge: Meggie Kelley’s porch

To be installed in The Branch’s front court, this outdoor installation is the inaugural commissioned design-build challenge, on view beginning April 12.

The porch functions as a transitional space between the private and public. Open and sociable, it is a shared area connecting the comforts of the home to the community outside. It is a place to rest, hang out, and chill on a hot summer day all while greeting the passerby. This pavilion structure attempts to bring attention to the porch as a meaningful connection between buildings and their city with the ever rising of air-conditioning, televisions, and computers drawing people further inside their homes.

Meggie Kelley is an architect and architectural historian currently living and working in her hometown of Richmond, Virginia. Before her current position, she has practiced architecture in New York, London, São Paulo, and most recently Kingsburg, Nova Scotia. She received her M.A. in Histories and Theories of Architecture from the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. Prior to that she received her B.Arch from Pratt Institute.


Covering: Layered Light, Texture and Motion

Hawa Stwodah presents Covering: Layered Light, Texture and Motion. April 10 – May 20

The series is comprised of five components that explore the use of light, texture and movement in surface design. Each of the five subject matters are connected to idea of the covering and seclusion. The space itself, the inner most sanctum of the building, was selected because of its location and sense of privacy.

Non-tradition materials contrast with quintessential motifs used for centuries by handicraft artisans. Spirals, whorls, and concentric circles intermingle with chevrons and diamond patterns, covering the surfaces of acrylic, silk georgette and muslin. Sensors and actuators control light and movement while screens distance the viewer form the object, obscuring vision and clarity.

Hawa Stwodah is an Afghan born designer and instructor based in the United States. She received her BFA and MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, her career has spanned many sectors within the fashion industry, including fashion and textile design, product development, technical design and production, as well as retail buying and education.


Rafie Khoshbin: Daughters of Baha

The recent political upheaval following the 2016 presidential election in the United States awakens specific fears; fears so familiar to Baha’i Iranians in the post-Islamic Revolution of 1979. Since its establishment, the Islamic Republic of Iran has shown a profound disdain for one of its largest minority faiths and created a nationwide effort to prosecute Baha’is by arresting prominent members of the community through the fabrication of false crimes and accusing them of being spies for Great Britain, the United States, and Israel.

As an attempt to erase all evidence of state crimes and what the government called “Cultural Cleansing” of the Baha’i community; the majority of these individuals’ belongings were confiscated and destroyed. The year 2018 marks the 35th year anniversary of the execution of these beloved women who fearlessly dedicated their life to advancing the betterment of humanity.  Their spirit, their vision, their heart will always be remembered; for in the face of tragedy they stood unwavering with love.

The exhibit stands to commemorate their life and share their story. On view in the Social Gallery April 10 – 22.

Khoshbin graduated with a B.F.A from the department of fashion design at VCUarts in 2016. He then established his haute-couture-inspired atelier embodying his Iranian heritage with a combined love for theater and hand-sewn creation in his womenswear collection. With an individualized approach, the house focuses on capturing the personalized sensibility in a contemporary silhouette; Aiming to marry artisanal and machine-based techniques harmoniously.


On Permanent Exhibit

The House That Branch Built

Architect John Russell Pope, FAIA, is renowned for the design of a number of national landmarks, including the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the U.S. National Archives, and the National Gallery of Art (West Building) in Washington, D.C., as well as Richmond’s Union Station, headquarters of the Science Museum of Virginia. The House That Pope Built includes photographs, narrative, and other educational media that shed light on the house — a 27,000-square-foot Tudor-Revival mansion — in addition to John Kerr Branch, the patron who commissioned its construction; the architect; the house’s interiors; its setting on Richmond’s historic Monument Avenue; and Compton Wynyates, the 15th/16th-century English country house that inspired the building’s design.

This exhibit is permanently in the chapel gallery, and generously made possible by a private Richmond foundation, and Tourism Cares.


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