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From a Judge’s Point of View with Architect Joe Digrado, AIA, CAASH

DA--168Architect – Senior Associate – Residential Design Coordinator are just some of the hats Joe Digrado wears at Danielian Associates. Needless to say during his 38 year career as a residential architect, Joe has seen it all when it comes to housing, the good the bad and the completely un-buildable. Recently, Joe had the honor of judging the Best In American Living Awards and sat down with us to share his experience and give us the low down on what BALA is all about and more importantly: What is coming next?

JM: You have been a judge for many awards programs in the past, how is BALA different from more local awards programs?

JD: BALA is different because the entries are coming in from all parts of the country and it is always very interesting to see what the rest of the country is building.  For the most part, we are seeing that many areas of the country are actually quite conservative with their architecture.  Of course there are always outliers, Florida and New York have shown some very diverse and unique architectural designs.  California can also be a bit of a wildcard, we often see a wide range from conservative traditional to very contemporary.

JM: What do you look for as a judge when you are reviewing projects? What makes a project jump out at you and shows you that it is really special?

JD: I think what makes a project jump out is creativity.  It could be an interesting interior space, colors, interesting exterior design or just originality.  We saw many exciting examples of this creativity from across the country.

JM: How did the California projects stack up against the rest of the country? Do you think we have our own brand of design in California? Is there anything signature about California designed projects? Maybe a style or trend that you see over and over again that makes a project quintessential California?

JD: What makes California projects stand out the most is our blending of indoor and outdoor space into one.  Of course having a more temperate climate helps, but the amount of glass walls being used has increased tremendously in recent years and today’s buyers are now expecting it.  Other parts of the country are getting on this band wagon, even in colder climates, and the buyers are loving it.

JM: How does judging influence your work as a practicing architect?

JD: What inspires me as a judge is seeing all the exciting and creative architecture that is being done across the country.  Different approaches to solving space planning, different ways of creating space and massing relationships, and simply the different ways in which teams look at and interpret architecture is always exciting.

JM:  What trends are you seeing nationally? Any surprising innovative ideas that and churning the wheels in your head about what’s next?

JD: There were several new trends we saw in this year’s submittals, and one in particular that I am seeing more and more of across the board is the trend toward more contemporary residential architecture.  Other things that we are quite familiar with in California like indoor/outdoor rooms, higher ceiling heights, and more efficient use of space are ideas that are really spreading across the country.  I don’t want to spoil the rest, the BALA judges put together a long and comprehensive list of trends that will come out at IBS in January – stay tuned!

Look for more with Joe Digrado at the upcoming 2016 International Builder’s Show for more trends in housing and what projects need to make the cut and bring home gold!

Questions? Contact Cassie Cherry, Director of Marketing at





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