Dirk Denison, FAIA, director of the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP), and Wiel Arets, Assoc. AIA, dean of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) College of Architecture, announced that Grace Farms, designed by Tokyo-based SANAA, has won the 2014/2015 MCHAP at a benefit dinner this evening. The prize, which was given to SANAA co-founders and Pritzker Architecture Prize laureates Kazuko Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, includes a $50,000 research and publication grant as well as a position as MCHAP Chair at IIT for the following academic year. The evening's events also included announcement of the winner of a newly established MCHAP.student award, which was presented to Tommy Kyung-Tae Nam and Yun Yun of the University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Design for their thesis project, titled "(a)typical office."
“Among a strong group of projects, Grace Farms emerged as a clear winner for the clarity and consistency of its architectural solution," Stan Allen, FAIA, who presided over the jury, said in a release from MCHAP. "The jury was struck by the radical way in which the line between architecture and landscape is blurred by the ‘River’ building. The firsthand experience of the building reveals a confident realization and the immediacy of its detailing. Finally, the Grace Farms project uniquely demonstrates architecture’s capacity to make a place for an innovative new institution.”
Grace Farms is a single-story religious structure that winds its way slowly down a New Canaan, Conn., hillside with landscape design by OLIN, enclosing five programmatic elements with curved glass beneath a continuous, timber-supported roof. A 700-seat amphitheater serves as the Grace Farms Sanctuary and can be used for performances; the Commons seats guests at 18-foot-long dining tables made of wood reclaimed from the site; tea services take place in a cozy Pavilion; a Library with an adjoining conference room reinforces the Grace Farms Foundation's mission with a curated selection of literature; and a multi-use Court allows opportunities for recreation and impromptu performance.
The jury for the 2014/2015 cycle of MCHAP was led by Stan Allen, principal of Stan Allen Architect and former dean of the School of Architecture at Princeton Universty, and included Ila Berman, dean of the University of Virginia School of Architecture; Jean Pierre Crousse, co-founder of Barclay & Crousse Architecture (with Sandra Barclay) and associate professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú in Lima; Florencia Rodriguez, who is an architect, critic, and the founder and editorial director of Buenos Aires-based publishers Piedra, Papel y Tijera; and Wiel Arets.
Other finalists in the 2014/2015 MCHAP cycle included Weekend House by Angelo Bucci in São Paulo, Brazil; UTEC Campus by Grafton Architects in Lima, Peru; Pachacamac Museum by Llosa Cortegana, also in Lima; Tower 41 by Alberto Kalach in Mexico City, Mexico; and Star Apartments by Michael Maltzan in Los Angeles. These finalists were nominated by a group of 95 representatives from throughout the Americas who were tasked with choosing the best projects realized within the previous two years, with the MCHAP jury whittling down all of the nominated projects to the six finalists above. The jury also visited each of the six shortlisted sites to gain firsthand understanding of the context, atmosphere, and overall impressionof each project.
“As a jury, we were looking not only for buildings of exceptional quality, but also for buildings that contribute something new to the discipline," Allen said. "We were very impressed by the high quality of the work coming from such a wide variety of cultures. There may be a global architecture culture today, but each place we visited had its own identity and every project responded to a specific context. As a jury we also observed common themes: All of the projects, even those in urban areas, engage with landscape;; they all embrace architecture as a force for change;; and finally, all of them find a delicate balance between innovation and the history of the discipline.”
See more about the 2014/2015 MCHAP Finalists in ARCHITECT's Project Gallery.