Eighteen architecture prizes -- eight for "excellence" and 10 for "merit" -- were announced yesterday by the District chapter of the American Institute of Architects. By pleasant coincidence, the awards dinner last night took place in one of the chosen buildings -- the White-Meyer House, whose restoration by the firm Archetype was cited by a jury for excellence in the category of historic preservation/renovation.

Edwin Weihe, founder of the Weihe Partnership, was selected by the chapter to receive its second annual Centennial Award, presented for a body of work and long-term "contributions to the profession." Weihe, 83, retired in 1987. He established his firm in 1938, seven years after graduating from George Washington University. In its half-century of activity under a succession of names the firm has designed more than 95 office buildings in downtown Washington.

For the first time in the chapter's 103-year history the awards were divided into three separate categories, judged by three different juries made up of design professionals from outside the city. In addition to historic preservation, the categories were architecture and interior architecture. One project -- the downtown Homer Building, which was restored and added to by Shalom Baranes Associates -- was selected for merit awards in both the architecture and historic preservation categories.

Awards for excellence in architecture included the Clark residence, a single-family house in Crownsville, Md., by the Joseph Boggs Studio; 8001 Wisconsin Ave., a diminutive retail-office building in Bethesda, by Muse-Wiedemann Architects; Summit Court, a small condominium apartment building in Adams-Morgan, by Van Dusen Takesuye Architects; and a guest cottage and pool house at the Double Mills Farm in Talbot County, Md., by Versaci Neumann & Partners.

The latter project was cited by the jury for "doing a lot with a little -- it's so restrained, so simple and so powerful." According to Martin Moeller, executive director of the chapter, "restraint was one word that came up again and again in the deliberations of all three juries." Juror Carol Ross Barney, a Chicago architect, singled out achievements in preservation for special praise. "There is a body of knowledge here in D.C.," she said, "that is clearly ahead of any place else in the country."

In addition to Archetype's work on John Russell Pope's White-Meyer House, awards for excellence in historic preservation were given for the restoration of the 1878 Auditor's Main Building in Southwest Washington by Notter Finegold + Alexander/Mariani & Associates, and the restoration of the Lowell School on 16th Street NW by Stokoe-Callison Architects.

Winners in the interior architecture category included the SunBank headquarters in Orlando, Fla., by the Washington office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, an award for excellence; and the Apple Computer retail sales office in New York City, by Studios Architecture, a merit award.

Besides the Homer Building, the list of merit awards for architecture consisted of the Fort Meade Youth Activities Center by Cooper-Lecky Architects; the Woodward/Walsh residence in Edgewater, Md., by Muse-Wiedemann Architects; the Shops at National Place by Frank Schlesinger; and the Edward M. Crough Center for Architectural Studies at Catholic University, by John V. Yanik and Vlastimil Koubek.

Merit awards for historic preservation included the USAir Interim Terminal, a converted hangar at National Airport, by Giuliani Associates Architects; the Old Presbyterian Meeting House, an 1836 building in Old Town, Alexandria, restored by Jennings & Murray Architects; and rehabilitation to the Villa Pax, a red brick mansion near Dupont Circle, converted to offices by Mariani & Associates.

In another departure, the chapter this year arranged for the winning competition boards to be on public display at the White-Meyer House for the month of November. The house, part of the Meridian House International complex at 1630 Crescent Place NW, is open from 2 to 5 p.m. daily except Mondays and Saturdays.