Progressive architecture has long been associated with the “isms”: Modernism, Post-Modernism, Deconstructivism, and the many other movements that pushed the design envelope at a given moment. But as the P/A Awards celebrates its 60th anniversary, this year’s jury—Steven Ehrlich, FAIA; John Frane; Kimberly Holden, AIA; Reed Kroloff, Assoc. AIA; and Joan Soranno, FAIA—discovered that, as a whole, contemporary architects seem to be focusing less on a particular style or philosophy than on what Ehrlich describes as “moving toward trendlessness and diverging into positive sub practices.” A shedding of the isms, as it were.

The jury selected 10 award winners that embody “accessibility, a relevance to what’s going on in the world, and that engage more people in architecture,” Holden says. Kroloff agreed: “These projects reflect a profession engaged in real issues, rather than self-centered and completely internal arguments of interest only to architects.” If there is a trend in the trendlessness, he adds, “It’s a strong interest in architectural programming. The driving factor is the response to the condition that the architect has been dealt.” Each winner displays a pragmatism that improves lives in some way. That just may be the new definition of progressive.

This year's award winners:

Arctic Food Network, by Lateral Office
Beukenhof Crematorium and Auditorium, by Asymptote Architecture
Floatyard, by Perkins+Will
Rock Chapel Marine, by Landing Studio
The Farm: Gaming Strategies for Empowering Marginalized Youth, by Steven Mankouche and Matthew Schulte
Calexico West Land Port of Entry, by Perkins+Will
Dortoir Familial, by NADAAA
Kimball Art Center, by BIG
Modulo Prep Library, by CRO Studio
Smart Material House, by Barkow Leibinger


Kimberly Holden
After receiving her M.Arch from Columbia University, Kimberly Holden, AIA, co-founded New York–based SHoP Architects in 1996 and SHoP Construction in 2007 with Gregg Pasquarelli, AIA, and Christopher, Coren, and William Sharples, all AIA. Notable projects include the first Young Architects Program at MoMA PS1 and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., which opened last year.

Reed Kroloff
Reed Kroloff

Reed Kroloff
Reed Kroloff, Assoc. AIA, is the director of the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Before joining Cranbrook, Kroloff was dean of the School of Architecture at Tulane University in New Orleans, where he played a significant role in post-Katrina rebuilding efforts. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Architecture magazine.

Steven Ehrlich
The 1970s travels of Steven Ehrlich, FAIA, through northern Africa remain influential to the design ethos at his eponymous Culver City, Calif.–based practice. He enjoys collaborations with artists including Ed Moses and Miriam Wosk, and his practice has expanded from residential projects to larger, award-winning developments, such as Pomona College’s new student housing.

John Frane
John Frane co-founded Venice, Calif.–based Predock Frane Architects with Hadrian Predock in 2000, and has since garnered commissions for all scales of projects, from smaller art pieces to infrastructural and public venues. The firm has won AIA Honor Awards on both the local and national levels, and its work was included in the Venice Architecture Biennale in both 2004 and 2012.

Joan Soranno
As design partner and vice president at HGA in Minneapolis, Joan Soranno, FAIA, has been at the helm of many celebrated cultural institutions, such as the Museum of the North in Fairbanks, Alaska, and the Bigelow Chapel in New Brighton, Minn. Soranno was named 2012 Artist of the Year by the Minneapolis StarTribune for her recent work on the Lakewood Cemetery Garden Mausoleum.