The James Beard Foundation announced that Canlis in Seattle, known equally for its architectural and culinary artistry, will be honored with the 2019 Design Icon Award.

Canlis, the landmark Seattle restaurant opened in 1950, epitomizes the period’s Northwest Modern movement as interpreted by architect Roland Terry. Looking as warmly modern today as it did nearly seven decades ago, the restaurant has been lovingly maintained by three generations of Canlis: Peter who built the restaurant; his son Chris, who, with his wife Alice, took it over in 1977; and Brian and Mark, the original Canlis’s grandsons who have helmed the restaurant for over the last ten years.

Anchored into the hillside with its massive stone walls, fireplace, and piers and with panoramic views through its enormous raked glass walls, the dramatically cantilevered building is the very icon of Northwest design. The angled walls, its most memorable design feature, allow the nighttime views to be uninterrupted by reflections from the dining room, creating an incredibly transparent effect. Terry’s style at Canlis can be seen as a “fusion cuisine” of Frank Lloyd Wright and the California Modern movement celebrated just down the coast. Wright is visible in the natural materials, enormous hearth, low covered drive, and sensitive siting; as well as the California influence in the sweeping glass and dramatic profile, the lightly framed facades, and the generous proportions.

While the design has, understandably, evolved over the years it is still very much the restaurant that Roland Terry designed, so much so that is has become synonymous with the Canlis brand. Generations of the Canlis family have been remarkable stewards to not just the restaurant but to its building as well.

Canlis has received several James Beard Award nominations over the course of the last ten years and won their first James Beard Award in 2017 for Outstanding Wine Program. “Somehow, this nomination, this award means so much more than all the others,” says Mark Canlis, co-owner of Canlis. “It’s a culmination of what our grandfather set out to do, what our parents so diligently worked towards, and to what we’ve been doing for 15 years now. Three generations of building and running and redefining the most beautiful restaurant we can. To be honored like this is such an affirmation, a big honor. And I mean this as sincerely as I can: I think we’re just getting started.”

The Design Icon Award is chosen by the Restaurant Design Committee. In order to qualify, a dining establishment’s design must have remained substantially unchanged for at least 20 years and must have influenced and inspired the design of subsequent restaurants. Additionally, the restaurant/dining space must still be in operation.

Tickets for this year’s Awards gala in Chicago go on sale March 27, 2019, and the Awards will be broadcast live via the James Beard Foundation’s Twitter feed. On April 26, 2019, the James Beard Media Awards, an exclusive event honoring the nation’s top cookbook authors, culinary broadcast producers and hosts, and food journalists, will take place at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City.

The 2019 James Beard Awards celebrations begin in New York City on Friday, April 26, 2019, with the James Beard Media Awards, an exclusive event honoring the nation’s top cookbook authors, culinary broadcast producers and hosts, and food journalists that will take place at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers.

This year’s theme, “Good Food For Good” is synonymous with the James Beard Foundation’s mission. It is the simple summation of what the organization stands for, from unique and delicious dining experiences at the James Beard House and around the country, to scholarships, mentorships, and a variety of industry programs that educate and empower leaders in the food community. The Foundation has built a platform for chefs and asserted the power of gastronomy to drive behavior, culture, and policy change around food. With this theme, the annual Awards aim to bring attention not only to its deserving winners but to the Foundation’s overall mission as well.

The events then move to Chicago, beginning with the Leadership Awards dinner on Sunday, May 5, 2019, at which honorees will be recognized for their work in creating a more healthful, sustainable, and just food world. The James Beard Awards Gala will take place on Monday, May 6, 2019, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. During the event, which is open to the public, awards for the Restaurant and Chef and Restaurant Design categories will be handed out, along with special achievement awards Humanitarian of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Design Icon, and America’s Classics. A gala reception will immediately follow, featuring chefs and beverage professionals from across the country, including past JBF Award winners and many who are involved in the Foundation’s Impact Programs, from Smart Catch Seafood to Women’s Leadership programs and the James Beard Chefs Bootcamp for Policy and Change. The VIP Dinner chefs, those who cook a multi-course dinner and create an experience in the balcony boxes during the Awards show, will be chefs from the esteemed Union Square Hospitality Group.

Industry News, Restaurant Design