30 Jan 2015

TOTS Wins Award from AIA

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We’re happy and proud to announce that Thinking Outside the Square, along with Inkwell Studios, was presented with an award by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Buffalo Architectural Foundation (BAF).

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Brian McAlonie, left. Michael Gelen, center.

Our VP Client Services, Brian McAlonie, and Michael Gelen (Principal, http://www.inkwellstudios.com/) accepted the AIA’s Buffalo chapter’s Pro Bono Publico Award for Design Excellence. This award was presented for the design and fabrication of Buffalo’s Bethune, an exhibit at the Buffalo History Museum focusing on the life and works of Louise Blanchard Bethune, the first professional woman architect in the United States. Brian and Michael teamed up with Kelly Hayes-McAlonie, Brian’s wife, who’s had a lifelong goal of shining a light on Bethune’s accomplishments and endeavors.

The award itself, with images of Buffalo's skyline carved on 4 sides of the wooden cube.

The award itself, with images of Buffalo’s skyline carved on 4 sides of the wooden cube.

Louise Blanchard Bethune was born in 1856, moved to Buffalo as a child, and learned architecture by working for Richard Waite and F.W. Caulkins. Bethune opened her own architecture firm in 1881, partnering with her eventual husband, Robert Bethune–making her the first professional woman architect in the United States. She was made a fellow of the AIA in 1888, and in 1904, completed her masterwork: Buffalo’s Hotel Lafayette.

The exhibit was on display at the Buffalo History Museum in the building’s State Court, central to all exhibits and visitor areas. Content, artifacts, and layout were all done by McAlonie, Hayes-McAlonie, and Gelen, and fabricated by Thinking Outside the Square.

From the evening’s program:

“Buffalo Architecture Foundation (BAF) is pleased to announce Thinking Outside the Square and Inkwell Studios as the recipients of the Pro Bono Publico Award in Design Excellence for their outstanding efforts on the exhibit Buffalo’s Bethune: America’s First Woman Architect. This award recognizes exemplary pro bono services, rendered in the public interest without fee or with a significant reduction in fees, provided to not-for-profit clients…BAF applauds Thinking Outside the Square and Inkwell Studios for their vital contributions to a captivating cultural resource that enriches the architectural community and the public with the significant narrative of Louise Bethune.”

The award-winning exhibit on display in the Buffalo History Museum.

The award-winning exhibit on display in the Buffalo History Museum.

The exhibit panels balanced historical influences and modern touches.

The exhibit panels balanced historical influences and modern touches.

At the gala, Brian mentioned that TOTS was glad to play a part in telling the story of Louise Bethune. Often times, history passes over intriguing stories based on gender, race, or other characteristics, and it was important that Bethune’s story be told. She was a trailblazer in a male-dominated profession, and paved the way for other women passionate about architecture. Buffalo is fortunate to boast some of the nation’s finest architecture, brought about by the finest architects including Bethune.

We here at Thinking Outside the Square are very proud of Brian, Michael, and Kelly in their contributions to this exhibit. TOTS is honored that the AIA and BAF selected us as the winner of the Pro Bono Publico Award for Design Excellence!

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