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Previewing AIA/LA's Restaurant Design Awards

The call for submissions is officially wide open for this year's Restaurant Design Awards, sponsored by the Los Angeles chapter of the American Institute of Architects. You'll remember last year's top honors went to the Richard Meier-designed Cut and Houston's Santa Monica (Houston's? Really?), with Sprinkles, the Westfield Century City Dining Terrace and (Wide) Band Nomadic Cafe as winners in the cafe/bar/lounge categories. Katsuya, Lucky Devil's, Opaline and Stack were all named finalists. It's a diverse list, and we got to ruminating about the eateries who might make up this year's contenders.

Eligible nominees must have been completed in the last four years, so that leaves the door somewhat open for both the new and the not-so-new on the scene. Pizzeria Mozza won a 2007 James Beard Award for its menu graphics when it was barely open so it or its Osteria counterpart seem a shoe-in. (Pizza designer Nancy Silverton is serving as one of the jurors, although we can't imagine that would rule out any of the half-dozen places she's hung her toque.) WeHo's Eleven was designed for designers. Newbie Craft could also be a contender. Downtown debuts Seven Grand and Edison could be duking it out for best bar, along with choice cafe Madame Chocolat, which looks as decadent as it tastes. And dare we say that Pinkberry, with its superstylish pebble-mosaic floors and Le Klint lamps, could lick the competition clean?

The public can vote for the People's Choice Award on the AIA website, and winners will be announced October 25. The competition is open to restaurant owners and architects for projects in the LA-area, and for LA-based architects with projects located outside LA. Owners can download the entry form, which is due by August 24.
· Restaurant Design Awards [AIA/LA]
· AIA/Los Angeles Restaurant Design Awards 2006 [AIA/LA]

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