Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Projects of the Year

The Project of the Year Award was instituted in 2019 after discussions with the Design Jury who commented that there is always one project that stands out above the rest. It is not given every year as it is up to the jury of that year to make that choice.

Below are all the Projects of the Year that have been awarded with this distinction.


Timber City | Gray Organschi Architecture

The growth and urbanization of global populations anticipated over the next several decades will create an enormous demand for buildings and infrastructure. As cities expand in size and density, the manufacturing of materials required for constructing mid- and high-rise urban buildings will create a significant spike in greenhouse gas emissions. This carbon debt could take decades to offset through operational energy efficiencies alone.

A small interdisciplinary team of architects, forest and industrial ecologists, social scientists and climate change researchers gathered in New Haven, Connecticut and Potsdam, Germany to consider the possibility of exploiting an anticipated global building boom as a means to mitigate rather than exacerbate climate change. Could the use of bio-based, carbon-storing materials such as timber, bamboo, and other forms of plant cellulose to construct dense urban building landscapes serve as a technique to offset the production stage emissions produced by the extraction and manufacture of building components?

Our transdisciplinary team of authors focused on concerns about the feasibility of sustainable forest harvest at the global scale and weighed a variety of potential mechanisms for the transfer of woody plant material into urban building structures, ultimately designing a study that assessed the relative potential of major structural materials to either accelerate or mitigate climate change, an approach described in a Nature Sustainability “Perspective”.


Residential Project of the Year

Slice House | Joeb Moore & Partners Architects
Photography: David Sundberg, ESTO

Slice house is located on a site with glacial till and bedrock typical of Fairfield County. The new building is sited to fit between existing rock outcroppings and trees on the property. A T-shaped parti creates three distinct outdoor spaces: an arrival court to the north, a pool and entertaining terrace bermed between the house and a high knoll at the east, and a stepped dining terrace perched above a rocky slope to the west looking towards a reservoir.

The house itself is organized into three wings: formal living, informal living and support spaces, anchored to the site by a masonry wall. The void space between these three wings utilizes light and reflection to connect vertically between each story of the house as well as laterally to each wing and to the landscape beyond. Apertures function as gaps or slices to reinforce the transition between the three wings of the house. Windows and openings are lined with reflective metal panels that bounce light and landscape views into the interior spaces, while indexing the surrounding temporal environment on the building facade.

Commercial Project of the Year

Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center, Duke University | Centerbrook Architects and Planners
Photography: Peter Aaron

Adjacent to Duke’s main entry to its west campus and the undergraduate and graduate admissions centers, the Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center welcomes visitors as it celebrates Duke’s storied past and promising future.

The complex of four buildings was conceived as a pedestrian village within woodland, organized around a central court and wood cloister. This maintains Duke’s identity as a “University in the forest,” as it concentrates built development to optimize the surrounding woods to be a sustainable and continuous matrix of flora and fauna.

Duke stone (quarried locally) is the exterior base for the large Events Pavilion with precast stone above, as seen on Duke’s campus. The exterior masonry wings contrast with the Events Pavilion’s central steel and glass pavilion; this juxtaposition is reversed in the attached Meeting Pavilion, with glass wings off a solid center. The surrounding terraces of bluestone at the entry and arcades are flush with interior floors for accessibility. Next door, the Forlines House, is an historic preservation, restored for public meetings and offices

The project meets Duke’s proprietary green standards commensurate with LEED Silver.


Hancher, University of Iowa / Pelli Clarke Pelli
Photography: Jeff Goldberg/ESTO

In 2008, Iowa City experienced a 500-year devastating flood that caused more than $700 million worth of damage on the University of Iowa campus. It was only a matter of time before Hancher Auditorium—the epicenter of performing arts on campus—was submerged in high-flood water and ultimately destroyed.

The new Hancher now conforms to FEMA’s 500-year-flood criteria and sits on a hilltop overlooking the river that destroyed it a decade ago. The design responds to its site and context on the exterior, and to its program and planning on the interior. The exterior is inspired by the nearby Iowa River, sweeping horizontal forms emulate the river’s curve. The interior opens upward, spanning multiple levels. Rehearsal space, a café, costume shop, and an 1,800-seat proscenium theater provides students and guests the necessary environment for creative expression. Design emphasis was placed on accessibility, transparency, flexibility, and sustainability, and meets the university’s goal of a 30% energy cost reduction to acquire a LEED Gold rating.