ORLANDO, FL -- Each year, the Ceramics of Italy Tile Competition showcases the work of prominent North American architects and designers who use Italian tile in their projects. The annual awards program, sponsored by Confindustria Ceramica (the Association of Italian Ceramics) and the Italian Trade Commission, continues to yield great results going into its 19th year. Submissions to the three categories -- Residential, Commercial/Hospitality and Institutional -- offered excellent and competitive projects for the international jury to consider. After carefully narrowing down the finalists, they have selected a winner and an honorable mention in each category based on the project's functionality, visual appeal, original use of tile and overall design. The winning projects all reflect how the A&D community is using Italian tile to move forward in terms of technology, aesthetics and sustainability.

The recipients of the prize were announced on April 18, 2012 during the Ceramics of Italy press conference at Coverings in Orlando, FL. The winning architects and designers were each awarded $4,000 and a five-day trip to Bologna, Italy, to attend Cersaie 2012 – the international exhibition of ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings – in the fall. Ceramics of Italy also awarded $1,000 to the contractors and distributors involved in each winning project.

Winner for the Residential category was Fractal Construction, LLC, for the Gramercy Townhouse project in New York, NY. Fractal Construction's design philosophy focused on intricate detailing, innovative material selection and weaving traditional styles with contemporary design, which was the perfect match for the revitalization of the Gramercy Townhouse. With its grand bones and patrician facade, the 1848 New York City townhouse presented exciting challenges in making an old structure modern and livable while maintaining and honoring the historical framework. To accommodate a new open floor plan, Fractal Construction used 2- x 2-foot gray porcelain tiles by Sant'Agostino to give the townhouse a sleek and clean look throughout. The project was contracted by Ross Lee Renovations and tiles were distributed by Nemo Tile.

The Cooper Residence designed by Anna Marie Fanelli, co-owner and designer at Floor & Decor, received an Honorable Mention for this year's Residential category. Using elegant and eco-friendly porcelain tiles from four different Italian companies – Cotto d'Este, Novabell, La Fabbrica and Lea – Fanelli transformed a 4,000-square-foot space in Trump Plaza into a tile couture showcase that's stylish as well as maintenance free.

The renovation of Union Square 999 by Leo A Daly's Washington D.C. office was chosen as the winner of the Commercial category. With two buildings comprising over 600,000 square feet of government office space, this LEED silver certified project features three innovative tile collections from Lea Ceramiche. Simtech Basaltina Stone Project, a versatile collection of super slim porcelain tiles, can be spotted across the campus from the lobby floor to the bathroom walls, bathroom dressing room walls and walls of the fitness room showers. The firm also chose the LEED-compliant collections, Tecnoquartz and Stonehenge, for the floors of the bathroom and fitness room showers to create a striking, modern space. The project was contracted by R Bratti Associates, Diamond Tile and Sandia Ceramics.

RSP Architects received the Commercial Honorable Mentionfor the Software Headquarters Facility. The rapidly growing software company, located on a beautiful property in the Western suburbs of Minneapolis, wanted a sleek, clean, modern design for the corporate interiors. Aiming for LEED Gold certification, the architects chose "Ecotech" by Floorgres for its recycled content as well as its texture, color and availability in large formats. The tiles were used extensively throughout the large space – in the central "Commons" area, corridors, restroom/locker rooms and lunchroom.

The Musical Instrument Museum by RSP Architects was the recipient of the Institutional award for its inspired use of tile. The world's first museum devoted to musical instruments from around the world, the Phoenix, AZ, project employs tile in a way that reflects the theme of the venue. The firm needed a material that was both beautiful and durable for the main circulation space. They chose Italian tile, Ceramiche Caesar and Lea Ceramiche for its warmth and texture, which gracefully connects the theater, galleries and courtyards. The variety of tile sizes also allowed them to continue the rhythm established throughout the interior and architectural elements. The tile manufacturer for this project was Ryan Companied and the distributor was RBC Tile and Stone.

Bogdan Newman Caranci, Inc. was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Institutional category for the Bradford West Gwillimbury Library and Cultural Center in Ontario. Designed to meet LEED Silver certification, the firm chose Italian tile for its high quality, elegant appearance, recycled content and cost efficiency. Mirage "Stone 2.0" tiles in two different sizes were used to create a random running bond pattern throughout the space. It gives life to the building but also creates a natural flow from the entrance gallery to the main atrium and up to the second floor.