Designers took their place alongside the country’s most elite chefs and restaurants at The James Beard Foundation’s award ceremony in Chicago on May 7. The MP Shift designers Amy Morris, Anna Polonsky and Julie Nerenberg won the foundation’s Outstanding Restaurant Design (75 seats and under) honor, while Outstanding Restaurant Design (76 seats and over) went to Aidlin Darling Design with A I M Project, who designed In Situ, a restaurant in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. And this year’s Restaurant Design Icon was awarded to The American Restaurant, located in Kansas City, Missouri.
“The design highlights art and imperfection, so you feel it has been passed down by generations of local artists,” The MP Shift co-founder Polonsky said of the firm’s redesign of De Maria, a 1,200-square-foot restaurant in NoLIta. Its owners requested the designers return the space to its original 1960s look and feel. To that end, The MP Shift used materials like textured plaster, lined tambour wood panels along one of the restaurant’s walls, and incorporated a tile mural on the back bar wall.
Winning designers for the SFMOMA’s international restaurant, In Situ, included Joshua Aidlin, David Darling, Adam Rouse and Andrea Lenardin Madden. “Innately inspired by the modern art museum in which it resides, the restaurant design sought to re-imagine the museum restaurant experience as an extension of the creative, thought-provoking environment to which it is connected—a space for the confluence of art, food and culture,” Rouse explained of the team’s ethos.
The Design Icon Award, which celebrates a restaurant that “must have remained substantially unchanged for at least 20 years, must be influential to future restaurant designs and must be in operation,” was this year awarded to the 6,500-square-foot American Restaurant designed by Warren Platner, which opened 44 years ago.
“The American has remained a landmark of culinary excellence and timeless architecture in Kansas City since 1974,” Nathan Guffey, Crown Center vice president of facilities and real estate, said of the distinction. “As the third-ever recipient of the Design Icon Award, we are proud to see Warren Platner’s iconic design receive this notable recognition by the James Beard Foundation.”