Born in the USA: Best new architecture by American firms

Born in the USA: Best new architecture by American firms

The Six is a 57-unit housing project for the Skid Row Housing Trust in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of Tara Wujcik

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has declared the winners of its 2017 Institute Honor Awards, which recognize excellence in architecture, interior architecture and urban design projects from firms licensed in the United States. The awards are an opportunity to spotlight some top-tier architecture.

A total of 23 winning projects have been selected from around 700 submissions. The winners are a varied bunch, including low-cost housing, museums, art galleries, and a new headquarters for Pinterest. All but one project is based in the USA (the exception is in Senegal, West Africa) and each will be honored in an awards ceremony in late April in Orlando.

New Atlas recently highlighted a few of the winners:

Aspen Art Museum

Designed by the Shigeru Ban Architects (working with CCY Architects), Colorado's Aspen Art Museum comprises a total floor space of 33,000 square feet spread over two floors and a basement. The interior of the museum includes gallery space, a multi-purpose space, cafe and public terrace.

The building is wrapped in a woven composite wood screen and topped by a timber roof. Generous glazing throughout, including glass floors, improves the amount of natural light inside, and the entire upper level can be opened to the outside thanks to a large operable wall system. It's also designed to be energy-efficient.

"The museum features an innovative climate design concept based on the functionality of a thermos, wherein spaces with a higher tolerance for climate variation are wrapped around the gallery spaces that cannot see any variation," the AIA said.

The Six Affordable Veteran Housing

This attractive and unusual 57-unit housing project for the Skid Row Housing Trust provides a safe roof over the heads of disabled veterans. Located in Los Angeles' MacArthur Park, the 42,500-square-foot building takes its name from the military term "I've got your six."

Brooks + Scarpa rejected the usual focus on privacy in most shelters by instead creating multiple shared social spaces to promote interaction between residents. Certified LEED platinum (a green building code) due to its energy-efficiency, the building features high ceilings, a focus on cross ventilation and natural light, and strategically-positioned concrete floors and walls to function as thermal heat sinks.

General Motors Design Auditorium

General Motors commissioned a large 180-foot diameter viewing auditorium in 1956 to allow its GM Styling team to check out the form and finish of its designs in an open space unimpeded by weather or shadow.

Located in Warren, Michigan (in the Metro Detroit area) the project was originally designed by Eero Saarinen but the renovation by SmithGroupJJR is still fitting, as the firm served as architect of record back when the original was being built.

A recent renovation project sought to modernize the facility and an updated central lighting ring now enables vehicles to be spotlighted, while integrated multimedia capabilities were also added. A new control desk modeled after a 1940 Cadillac hood ornament has been installed, and an existing conference room adjacent to the auditorium has been transformed into a boardroom faced with ultra-clear glass.


Topics: Architectural Firms, Associations / Organizations, Automation and Controls, Building Owners and Managers, Certifications, Construction Firms, Consulting - Green & Sustainable Strategies and Solutions, Energy Saving Products, Engineering Firms, Exteriors, Great Commercial Buildings, Sustainable Communities, Technology, Urban Planning and Design

Companies: The American Institute of Architects


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