Sometimes an awards jury develops an overriding thesis and uses it to analyze the projects before it. In recent years, the Progressive Architecture Awards have taken on issues such as public housing, community planning, and disaster relief. When this year’s jury—Steve Dumez, FAIA, Lisa Iwamoto, William Rawn, FAIA, Dan Rockhill, and Zoë Ryan—convened, they decided to return to the program’s original purpose: identifying projects that push the envelope of progressive design, regardless of the building type.
That doesn’t mean that the jurors didn’t bring their own causes to the table. Iwamoto was interested in “systems—some within the buildings, some material.” Rockhill and Ryan looked for sustainability, but not just in any old way: “Sustainability should just be a part of the project,” Ryan explained. “It shouldn’t be an add-on.” And Rawn went on the hunt for “big ideas, a driving force, an intellectual construct.”
In the following pages, you will see which projects made the cut. Given a pool of nearly 300 entries, the jury selected only two awards and four citations.
The winners may be few in number, but they are diverse in program, location, and design, ranging from an inflatable temporary museum addition in Washington, D.C., to a terraced office complex in China; a rigorously modern border station in Maine to a contextual wilderness center in Africa; a bamboo-clad information center in Taiwan to a structurally daring architecture school renovation in Atlanta. The early P/A Awards jurors—Eero Saarinen and Victor Gruen among them—would agree: Regardless of one’s interest in systems, sustainability, or big ideas, all of the winning designs are progressive in their own ways.
Lisa Iwamoto is a founder of IwamotoScott Architecture in San Francisco. She has a B.S. in structural engineering from the University of Colorado, an M.Arch. from Harvard University, and is currently an assistant professor at the University of California at Berkeley.
Dan Rockhill is a founder of Lecompton, Kan.–based Rockhill and Associates, as well as a professor of architecture at the University of Kansas (KU) and founder of Studio 804, the KU design/build program that has resulted in such projects as the Prescott Passive House.
Zoë Ryan is the Neville Bryan Curator of Design and Acting John H. Bryan Curatorial Chair of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago and is responsible for exhibits such as “Hyperlinks: Architecture and Design.” Ryan was also the senior curator at the Van Alen Institute.