Design Monday: Awash in Awnings


Striped Awnings in Hyde Park

Perched on the side of buildings, awnings are reminiscent of small circus tents or the heavy lash-laden eyelids of cows out to pasture.

Perhaps one of the oldest and most famous examples of awning use comes from Rome’s Colosseum, where a curtain-like awning called a velarium was used to create a ventilation updraft and thus provide a breeze to cool spectators.

From a design perspective, a well-placed awning provides a blend of functionality and style. Normally bland buildings can be transformed by awnings on the west and south-facing sides, while occupants enjoy relief from the heat of summer sunshine.

Boise is awash in awnings. You will notice they line many of the historic buildings in downtown and Hyde Park, as well as homes in the older neighborhoods surrounding the city. Metal straight edged versions of this standby can be seen on some new construction projects, most notably the Concordia School of Law.

Steel awnings at Concordia Law School

The law school’s spiky brushed chrome awnings are affixed above each set of windows and above the main entrance. Because of their lattice design, these awnings don't protect the building from sun or rain, and exist only as a decorative element. But they certainly add significant amount of interest to an otherwise boring brick facade.