The Brick Industry Association recently announced the winners of its prestigious 2008 “Brick in Architecture” awards competition. Acme Brick's new Fort Worth headquarters, designed by Gideon Toal Inc. architects, was the winner in the commercial category.

Four practicing architects from around the country independently reviewed and scored each of the 175 entries in six categories. Entries were judged based on their creative use of brick masonry and the practical nature of their design.

Commenting on the Acme headquarters, the judges said: “This project exemplifies what the awards program is about. It expresses the craft of masonry along with good planning and contemporary architecture. The design team's use of the brick in structure, exterior and interior expression, as well as in artwork, presents a well executed and considered solution.”

One competition judge added, “The use of brick is playful and expected for a brick company; however, the restraint demonstrated by the consistent color palette and the subtle detailing on the exterior facade depicts a level of sophistication not seen in most of the other entries. One of the few brick relief sculptures that I have seen well done.”

The aesthetic goals for this 75,000-sq-ft structure, situated on 5.67 riverside acres, were twofold. The first was to respond to the wooded site and river location and set a standard for future development in the area. The second was to demonstrate the variety of design alternatives that can be achieved with brick veneer.

The solid, permanent look of the building's brick and glass façade is consistent with the commitment of the company to the community. The design also exemplifies current masonry construction techniques and brick patterns and the relatively new use of recycled concrete as a base for the main drive through the site.

The building is sensitive to its river location by providing brick and stone outdoor break areas for employees. It incorporates a water harvesting, storage, and site irrigation system that mitigates the impact of the project on the water quality of the river.

The use of brick pavers further minimizes the effect of runoff water from drive-through and parking areas into the watershed. Genuine clay pavers absorb rainwater and release it into the earth below instead of draining water away.