Giving Back: Currie Sowards Aguila Architects

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By Jamie Salen The Pineapple Staff Writer “Our guiding principle was that design is neither an intellectual nor a material affair, but simply an integral part of the stuff of life, necessary for everyone in a civilized society.” – Walter Gropius Currie Sowards Aguila Architects’ founding partner Bob Currie began his career in architecture within Walter Gropius’ walls at the world-renowned firm of The Architects Collaborative. In the four decades since, Bob and his partners, Jess Sowards and José Aguila have influenced the urban and social fabric of the Delray Beach community. The firm’s work can be enjoyed and experienced from every vantage point within the city. Currie Sowards Aguila is a visionary firm, having designed and master-planned public and private projects throughout Delray Beach including the catalyst of the city’s revitalization, the Old School Square cultural arts complex. A drive, walk, or bike through Delray Beach offers a snapshot of the firm’s architectural portfolio from Veteran’s Park to the South County Administration Complex and all places and space in between. Over the years the firm has contributed countless hours and design ideas to local nonprofit organizations. The team has worked closely with the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, designing signage and creating marketing graphics. The firm’s pro bono efforts have had a positive design and socioeconomic impact on this community, including the Wayside House, a residential treatment facility for women 18 years and older who are struggling with alcohol and drug addiction. Forty-five years young, one constant has remained as the firm’s cornerstone: give to your community and your community will give back to you. The firm has donated its time and talents to lead two of the city’s major planning charrettes, Pineapple Grove and the relocation of the library to West Atlantic. The partners and their staff worked alongside community volunteers to design the master plan for the redevelopment of downtown Delray Beach’s NE 2nd Avenue. The “Pineapple Grove Main Street” project transformed a blighted urban area into the thriving arts, retail and dining district we know today as the Pineapple Grove Arts District. More recently, the firm’s projects have included interior improvement for the ever-popular Arts Garage, the SW 5th Avenue Plaza on West Atlantic Avenue, and the new beach pavilion at Atlantic Avenue and A1A. Over the years, Bob Currie has remained dedicated and diligent to the development and redevelopment of Delray Beach. He currently serves as V.P. of both the Delray Beach Library Board of Directors and the Beach Property Owners Association. He is a member of the Palm Beach County Zoning Board, serves as Design Chair of the Pineapple Grove Board of Directors, and serves on the Boards of both the Delray Beach Center for the Arts at Old School Square and Art House Delray. “The beauty of this city is the diversity of its residents. I think we need to seize the opportunity to develop and build upon the past. The success of Atlantic Avenue serves as a gateway and road map to the city’s future.” – Jess Sowards “In the next few years, I hope to see the Beach Area Master Plan carried out, which will redevelop the beach’s pedestrian corridor along A1A,” Currie said. The construction of the new beach pavilion [designed pro bono by Currie Sowards Aguila] will serve as the Welcome Center for the city to move forward with the entire plan. “My dream is that someday, when people think of downtown, they will view a seamless reach from the beach to I-95. There will be no East and West. Additionally, I’m excited about the design future for the Federal Highways, so much unrealized potential!” Currie concludes. An integral member of the firm and Delray Beach community since 1987, partner Jess Sowards serves as a member of the Delray Beach Board of Adjustment, the Boca Raton Community Appearance Board and the Delray Beach Rotary. He formerly served as Chair of the Delray Beach Planning and Zoning Board and the Delray Beach Site Plan Review and Appearance Board; President of the AIA’s Palm Beach County Chapter; and a member of the Pineapple Grove Main Street Design Committee. Jess’s vision for the City of Delray Beach is simple and eloquently expressed. “The beauty of this city is the diversity of its residents. I think we need to seize the opportunity to develop and build upon the past. The success of Atlantic Avenue serves as a gateway and road map to the city’s future. The possibilities and design potential are endless and we are so pleased to be a part of this vibrant City’s enviable past and continued resurgence,” said Sowards. José Aguila has been a member of the CSA organization since 1976 and has overseen the implementation of more than $50 million worth of capital improvement projects in the City of Delray Beach. He currently serves as Vice Chair of the Delray Beach Site Plan Review and Appearance Board, serves on the Palm Beach County Planning Board, and is a former City Commissioner and Vice Mayor of Boynton Beach. Community outreach and support is encouraged throughout the firm. Senior Architect Choli Aronson serves on the Delray Beach Housing Authority Board and over the past eight years has made substantial contributions to the firm and community. Choli recently oversaw the firm’s design concepts for West Atlantic Avenue’s redevelopment through the Community Redevelopment Agency. Honored with more than 65 building and planning design awards, the firm in 2000 was presented with the Firm of the Year Award by the Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects. In 2002, Bob received the prestigious Gold Medal Award from the Palm Beach Chapter of the AIA in recognition of his contributions to the architectural profession. In 2005, he received the President’s Award for Architect of the Year for his special contributions to the profession through excellence in design, service to the chapter and in raising public awareness of the role of architecture in the community. In 2008, he was recognized with the architectural profession’s highest honor when he was elevated to Fellow by the American Institute of Architects. Currie Sowards Aguila has been recognized for decades as a community-minded team of professionals, whose vision for the City of Delray Beach is unification. The impact they have made on the community should serve as an inspiration to local businesses. Currie Sowards Aguila Architects has found professional success as a highly respected architectural firm in the state of Florida, but what has defined their legacy is the contribution they have made within the local Delray Beach community: giving back, by design.