Welcome to the 17th edition of the Superior Achievement in Design and Imaging awards, which recognize outstanding achievement in creating successful retail environments. The winners are those architects and designers who craft memorable places that put the magic back in shopping, enhance or redefine a retail brand, capture a trend particularly well or solve a seemingly insurmountable problem.

This year's victors continue that tradition.

What distinguishes the winners from the also-rans is the talent to blend aesthetics with function to create a superior design that reflects the best the business has to offer. In other words, a SADI recipient has designed a building or series of buildings with more than just pretty faces.

Eight distinguished architects and designers joined our SADI judging team this year. Once again, international projects made a strong showing, with ventures in Japan, Canada and Korea among the winners and those receiving honorable mentions.

The Grand SADI winner is Alamo Architects for the Shops at La Cantera in San Antonio (pictured on the front and back covers and on page S 20). The open-air center is a step ahead of other projects of its type and size, incorporating a dramatic stream within its central artery as well as bold, but elegant columns lining its walkway.

Other big winners include Perkowitz + Ruth Architects, which designed the outstanding projects in two categories, and Giorgio Borruso Design, which for the second year in a row walked away with the top prize and honorable mention in the best new store category for its Fila flagship in New York City and Snaidero kitchen and bath fixture store in California.