Today, AIA recognized six projects with its 2019 Innovation Award, which honors projects that display "the exemplary use and implementation of innovative technologies and progressive practices among architects, designers, collaborators and clients," according to an AIA press release. This year's awards, selected by AIA's Technology in Architectural Practice Community, were given in two categories: holistic design and development of design or design-thinking.
The jury for AIA's 2019 Innovation Awards comprised jury chair Anthony Hauck, president of Hypar AEC in Waltham, Mass.; Phillip Bernstein, FAIA, associate dean of the Yale School of Architecture in New Haven, Conn.; Desiree Mackey, design technology practice leader at GEI Consultants in Denver; Sera Maloney, director of applied technology at the Foth Companies in Lake Elmo, Minn.; and Natasha Luthra, director of emerging technologies at Jacobs in Philadelphia.
Category A: Holistic Design
Project: Buoyant Ecologies Float Lab by CCA Architectural Ecologies Lab
Excerpt from AIA description: "The Buoyant Ecologies Float Lab is a prototype for a new kind of resilient coastal architecture. It merges expertise from design, advanced composites manufacturing, and marine ecology to imagine a floating architecture of the future that can exist productively with its surrounding environment. The project has developed through a multi-year partnership between academia and industry that serves as a model for expanding architectural agency beyond architecture’s traditional disciplinary limits. The project consists of a floating breakwater structure that incorporates a digitally fabricated, ecologically optimized fiber-reinforced polymer composite substrate. Underwater, the hull’s peaks and valleys vary in size to provide habitats for different species of invertebrates. The project challenges conventional notions of “biofouling”—the unwanted accumulation of marine life on the underside of floating structures—and instead proposes controlled upside-down habitats as an ecological resource. The underwater landscape creates pockets of space for diverse species of marine invertebrates, helping to promote ecological diversity and supporting biological growth that can develop wave attenuation capacity. The Float Lab was launched in Oakland, California in August 2019 to serve as both a public ecological demonstration project and a floating platform to further the research into ecologically productive substrates and floating breakwaters."
Project: IIT Innovation Center (Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship) in Chicago by John Ronan Architects
Excerpt from AIA description: "The building sector is responsible for 30 percent of global energy consumption, 35 percent of CO2 emissions and half of all landfill waste—we need to find a new way to build. The idea of the dynamic facade on the IIT Innovation Center, which responds to climate in real time by modulating the amount of incoming solar energy, is to make the architecture do more so that systems can do less. The design of the Innovation Center on the Mies campus at IIT is innovative in its own right, and forward-thinking in its approach to sustainability. The second floor of the building, which cantilevers over the ground floor to provide sun shading, is enclosed in a dynamic facade of ETFE foil cushions which can vary the amount of solar energy entering the building through sophisticated pneumatics. The ETFE foil is one percent the weight of glass and gives the building a light, cloud-like appearance. Mies described his architecture as “skin and bones” construction. The new innovation center updates that tradition by leveraging new materials and advanced technology."
Category B: Development of Design or Design-Thinking
Project: Baxter Parametric CMU Wall in Los Angeles by Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects
Excerpt from AIA description: "Long considered to be an economical alternate to pour-in-place concrete, concrete masonry unit (CMU) is simple and practical but could also be perceived as cheap and utilitarian. The Baxter Parametric CMU Wall shows that this humble material can be reinterpreted to be an elegant yet dynamic feature in the project. To realize the vision of a reinterpreted CMU wall, the design team worked closely with the structural engineer, contractor and the masons throughout the design and construction process. A wide breadth of tools (parametric, BIM, VR, 3D-printing, CNC) were integrated as part of the collaborative process as the collective team worked through challenges due to material and construction constrains. New tools were also developed and fabricated to facilitate the construction process and to resolve constructability issues. The end result is a humble material given new life: Baxter Parametric CMU Wall."
Project: MIT Sean Collier Memorial in Boston by Höweler + Yoon Architecture
Excerpt from AIA description: "Situated at the Vassal Street entrance to MIT’s campus, the Collier Memorial honors Officer Sean Collier who was shot and killed on April 18th, 2013, during the manhunt that followed the Boston Marathon Bombing. The memorial marks the site of tragedy with a timeless structure, translating the phrase "Collier Strong" into a space of remembrance with a form that embodies the concept of strength through unity. The memorial is made of thirty-two solid blocks of granite that form a shallow five-way stone vault, holding in the center an aperture, an ovoid space of reflection. The vault is buttressed by five radial walls, which reach outward toward the campus. The compression ring of blocks reveals the keystone geometry of the arch. Though the vault appears to be in suspension, each block fits exactly against the others to transfer loads in pure compression. The exactitude of the fit required for this project prompted us to approach its fabrication from a new perspective: rather than designing instructions to follow, we designed an iterative behavior which allowed us to treat the material as an active variable throughout the process. We developed interactive design software that enabled feedback between geometry and structure in real time."
Project: Overhaul the curriculum, not just a course by the faculty of the University of Tennessee School of Architecture in Knoxville, Tenn.
Excerpt from AIA description: "Faculty at the University of Tennessee felt that the students’ design work rarely reflected understanding of concepts from their many other technology courses. In a radical move, the faculty overhauled the entire B.Arch. technology curriculum, its sequence of courses and content. The faculty eliminated six stand-alone structures, technology, environmental, and materials courses, totaling 22 credit hours. These were replaced with a series of nine two-credit-hour half semester design/technology courses. Each of the half semester course generally aligned with the studio sequence and each containing a blended content related to climate, site, enclosure, materials, structures, building systems, design, and performance.
Project: Performative Millwork: The Coca-Cola Stage at Alliance Theatre in Atlanta by Trahan Architects
Excerpt from AIA description: "Traditional project delivery methods rely on a linear process. The flaw of this linear process is that neither Trahan Architects nor CW Keller benefits from either parties learned knowledge. It was critical for this project’s success that everyone agree this process was outdated and would harm the final product. Rather than a linear work flow, our team adopted augmented reality integration. There was constant sharing and updating of information at every step of the delivery process. This circular feedback allowed CW Keller to notify Trahan Architects and the contractor of potential clashes in the field, which in turn enabled the architects to adjust the geometry of the millwork layouts to prevent those clashes. Laser scanning and projection provided the key to this process."