Aria Ristorante

PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

The owners of Aria were invited to construct a fine dining establishment as an amenity to the highly successful commercial building. The objective was to design a modern Italian restaurant with a minimum 100 seats and a full kitchen, feature a 4000 bottle wine cellar and provide opportunities for small group functions without demising the space. Additionally, the space was to be attractive when viewed from the mezzanine level, without restricting natural light and views. The floor plate of 3500 sq ft was too confining and combined with soaring height of 30’ with glass on three sides it made for a challenging project. To preserve space the wine collection was concentrated into tall, narrow form with access from both ground floor and existing mezzanine bridge. The restaurant’s name, “Aria” coupled with the client’s passion for Italian food and contemporary design inspired us to provide an artistic experience for patrons. “Aria” means air in Italian and is also associated with opera. The design had to embody both lightness and drama, achieved in the course of the day as the light filled room at lunch morphs to a dramatic stage for dining at night. A significant portion of the budget was allocated to commission local art and artisanal work that became major components in the design solution. The wood sculpture by Dennis Lin floating through the room like the strains of music celebrates the volume of the space while dissipating acoustical clutter. The large oil canvases by local artist Laura Wood use the images of chandeliers to evoke the idea of grand opera houses in a modern interpretation. Craftsmanship and attention to the small beauty of detail reflects the quality and integrity of the food.