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The AIA's Favorite New Projects Are Here for Your Judgment

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Photo via AIA

The American Institute of Architects has announced the winners of its annual Honor Awards, and this year's class includes many familiar projects: the National September 11 Memorial Museum, Bjarke Ingels' boat-shaped underground gallery, and the still-astounding "superdesk," to name a few. There are also a few surprises and lesser-knowns in here. You may have already been aware of the world class art museum Alice Walton built in Bentonville, Arkansas, but did you know it had such a nice gift shop? And who knew Wild Turkey Bourbon had such great taste in design? Below, the entire class of winners in the Architecture and Interior Architecture categories.

Interior Architecture

Photo by Jin Lee

National September 11 Memorial Museum · New York City · Davis Brody Bond

After a construction and early unveiling fraught with controversy, the 9/11 museum opened to the public in May of 2014, displaying artifacts from the Twin Towers in what was once their foundation. It's been called an "antidote to denial."

Jury comment: "The project is so very complex: the artifacts, the sequencing, the scale, plus the enormous responsibility of creating an experience in this place with such importance to our country."

Photo by Jasper Sanidad

Beats By Dre Headquarters · Culver City, California · Bestor Architecture

Despite being under the Apple umbrella, the Culver City, Calif., headquarters of Beats Electronics couldn't be further from the sleek minimalism of all things Apple. According to architect Barbara Bestor, the space is an attempt to push back against the "adolescent-like interior that is prevalent in Silicon Valley."

Jury comment: "We love the young, hip vibe—the design is not over-the-top and could be relevant for a long time."

Photo by Michael Moran

The Barbarian Group HQ · New York City · Clive Wilkinson Architects

The Barbarian Group's CNC-milled, resin-covered "superdesk" was undoubtedly the most charismatic, head-turning set piece of the last year in office design. The New York Times took notice of its unveiling, and the video tour that showed off the new space was later parodied by competitors.

Jury comment: "It's more than a sculpture—it's innovative, sustainable, daring, and youthful."

Photo by Timothy Hursley

Louisiana State Museum · Natchitoches, Louisiana · Trahan Architects

Trahan Architects, the New Orleans–based firm behind the Louisiana State Museum and Sports Hall of Fame, apparently channeled the "fluvial geomorphology" of the nearby Cane River in creating its dynamic, otherworldly interiors.

Jury comment: "The 1,100 unique cast stone elements combine to create a singular interior surface, nearly geologic in scale and intent. This kind of organic interior takes a deft, skillful hand. It's an amazing technical achievement."

Photo via AIA

Crystal Bridges Museum Store · Bentonville, Arkansas · Marlon Blackwell Architect

The gift shop of Walmart heiress Alice Walton's Moshe Safdie–designed Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art was inspired by the work of Arkansas basket maker Leon Niehues, who is known for his "sculpturally ribbed baskets made from young white oak trees from the Ozarks."

Jury comment: "The store is sympathetic to the original architecture of the museum, yet has its own identity."

Photo by Eric Laignel via AIA

Arent Fox Law Office · Washington DC · Studios Architecture

Noteworthy elements of the new D.C. office of law firm Arent Fox include a "formal reception space with a physical and visual connection to the building lobby, a conference center, an auditorium with tiered seating, break-out areas for receptions, and slab openings on typical office floors for visual connection to other floors."

Jury comment: "The translucent glass stairway, the light fixtures, and the silvery coined tile on the café are delightful."

Photo via AIA

Illinois State Capitol West Wing Restoration · Springfield, Illinois · Vinci Hamp Architects

The second phase of a comprehensive renovation for the landmarked Illinois State Capitol building (designed by Alfred Piquenard and completed in 1888) saw the West Wing restored and outfitted with energy-efficient HVAC systems.

Jury comment: "This sensitive restoration seamlessly integrates modern building technologies and reestablishes the elegance of the original 19th-century building."

Image via Tim Griffith via BCJ

Newport Beach Civic Center and Park · Newport Beach, California · Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

The $105M Newport Beach Civic Center greets visitors with a "freestanding council chamber, clearly marked with its billowing 'sail' and curved roof."

Jury comment: "The design evokes the feel of the ocean, and having light and transparency throughout is really great."


Photo via AIA

Danish Maritime Museum · Denmark · BIG

The in-ground, boat-shaped inset that defines one of Bjarke Ingels' most recognizable projects was chosen because of the proposed location's proximity to Kronborg Castle.

Jury comment: "Unique in how it uses and honors the existing space, making it the centerpiece of the exhibition. The gently sloping floors create dramatic, sculptural spaces."

Photo by Scott Frances via AIA

United States Courthouse · Salt Lake City, Utah · Thomas Phifer and Partners; Naylor Wentworth Lund Architects

Standing "respectfully beside" a Classical Revival courthouse built in 1905 and connected to it via an elevated garden, the new Salt Lake City courthouse resulted "from a search for a physical symbol to express the American system of justice—the form had to be strong, iconic, transparent, and egalitarian."

Jury comment: "Every space was done with care, simplicity, and great detail, emphasizing the importance of natural light. In contrast to the silvery exterior, the wood-clad interior is beautifully detailed and warm, including a monumental lobby stair."

Photos by De Leon & Primmer via AIA

Wild Turkey Bourbon Visitor Center · Lawrenceburg, Kentucky · De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop

The newest addition to the Wild Turkey distillery complex houses "interactive exhibits, a gift shop, event venues, a tasting room, and ancillary support space," all in a barn-like space evocative of the regional vernacular.

Jury comment: "The interior has a cathedral-like quality, with a beautifully detailed narrow hallway that opens into the tasting rooms, fully glazed, with a view of the hills and valley. It's a very honest, straightforward building."

Photo by Michael Moran via AIA

LeFrak Center at Lakeside Prospect Park · Brooklyn, New York · Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects

Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects saw to the restoration of 26 acres of Brooklyn's Prospect Park—restoring some features that had since departed from Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux's original design—and the addition of a 75,000-square-foot skating facility.

Jury comment: "The stonework grounds this facility as a landmark within the park, while the openness of the design itself allows for complete amalgamation with the views and the experience of nature."

Photo by Eric Staudenmaier via AIA

28th Street Apartments · Los Angeles, California · Koning Eizenberg Architecture

Koning Eizenberg renovated architect Paul Williams's 1926 YMCA into a 48-unit affordable housing complex, which opened in 2012, was recognized by the L.A. Conservancy, and was soon known as one of the city's most beautiful apartment complexes.

Jury comment: "Industrial materials are elegantly detailed throughout, demonstrating that great richness can be achieved on a modest budget."

Image via AIA

Sant Lespwa, Center of Hope · Haiti · Rothschild Doyno Collaborative

This self-sufficient community center is the first phase of a master plan "intended to provide resources and build capacity" in the region whose local economy is based largely on subsistence farming.

Jury comment: "This building does things that do not always get done, let alone done well, and the architects did a lot of those things nicely, elegantly and simply."

Photo by Peter Aaron via AIA

Brockman Hall for Physics · Houston, Texas · KieranTimberlake

To fit Rice University's new building—yet another extraordinary place to do science—into a narrow rectangular site about the size of a soccer field, the structure was "split into two thin bars connected by glass-enclosed bridges."

Jury comment: "This project is a total knockout in every way—from the incredible planning to the spectacular detailing—yet it is extremely simple and very flexible."

Photo via AIA

California Memorial Stadium & Simpson Training Center · Berkeley, California · HNTB Architecture

A three-year, $321M renovation split UC Berkeley's Memorial Stadium into seven separate, self-adjusting pieces, one of which is topped with a "floating" press box.

Jury comment: "The engineering is unbelievable. It was a major feat to make this work and retain the historic nature of the original stadium."

Photo by Albert Vecerka via AIA

Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology · Philadelphia, Pennsylvania · Weiss/Manfredi

The University of Pennsylvania's Center for Nanotechnology contains "a rigorous collection of advanced labs" grouped around a central quad that encourages "interaction among disciplines."

Jury comment: "The use of fritted patterns on the transparent skin creates beautiful patterns of light in the public spaces, and the skillful way in which the laboratories are made visible allows the research to be appreciated by all visitors."

Photo via AIA

Cambridge Public Library · Cambridge, Massachusetts · William Rawn Associates

The AIA called this project "the perfect marriage of old and new." The original 1889 Romanesque library building was "rigorously renovated and seamlessly connected" to a 76,000-square-foot glass building. 33,000 square feet of the newly landscaped city park surrounding the library is a green roof covering an underground parking garage.

Jury comment: "The graceful, transparent addition respects and complements the 1888 building while offering great expanses of beautiful sunlit space with vistas of the surrounding park. Circulation is clear and inviting, and the challenging connection to the historic library is elegantly handled."

Photo via AIA

John Jay College of Criminal Justice · New York City · SOM

The new John Jay College building provides "all the functions of a traditional college campus within the confines of a single city block," with a descending four-story "social cascade" of "staircases, escalators, and stepped amphitheater seating" topped by a 65,000-square-foot green roof that acts as a campus commons.

Jury comment: "This massive programmatic space has created an entire village—from a beautiful and happy daycare to a full-service kitchen and dining facility, mock courtrooms, and full-science laboratories. The diversity of space is impressive, and it is hard to imagine that it could be done better."

· 2015 AIA Honor Award Recipients [official site]
· All Awards posts [Curbed National]