Restaurateurs serve as contemporary patrons facilitating award-winning design
By Michael Webb
Judging a restaurant can be challenging because success depends on intangible factors—from the warmth of the welcome to the attentiveness of the servers and the consistency of the cooking. The experience draws people in and keeps them coming back; however, design plays an essential supporting role. It takes skill to calibrate the flow of traffic, the quality of the lighting, and the acoustics, in order to achieve intimacy and comfort. Too many new restaurants are overcrowded and noisy with conversation amplified by hard surfaces; a few are as still as the grave. Eating out should be an event, and restaurants are struggling to play on that sense of occasion as a strategy for survival. Architects can help their patrons by developing frugal solutions that impart character and strengthen the identity of a talented chef. The 2009 AIA/LA Restaurant Design Awards jury considered nearly a hundred national
projects in three categories—restaurants, cafes and bars, lounges and clubs—and chose six winners based on criteria of function, ambiance, and visual impact. The public selected three by popular vote. The five winners serve as elegant examples. Review them in Workbook under Folios.