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Holcim Awards Winners for North America Announced in Washington, D.C.

The winners of the 3rd International Holcim Awards competition for sustainable construction projects and visions from North America have been announced. A total of $300,000 was presented to 10 diverse and innovative projects from Canada and the U.S. at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. The winning projects show how greater levels of sustainability can be reached in building and construction through people-focused designs that include simple adaptation, innovative materials, and clever architecture, according to Holcim.

The Swiss-based Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction conducts the competition in parallel in five regions across the world. More than 6,000 submissions for projects located in 146 countries entered the Holcim Awards which aims to promote sustainable responses to contemporary technological, environmental, socioeconomic and cultural issues from the building and construction industry.

A socio-architectural project to create regional food-gathering nodes and a logistics network in Canada's high arctic territory won the top prize for North America of $100,000. The Arctic Food Network (AFN) secures mobility between the scattered Inuit communities, allows a better distribution of local foods, and serves as a series of bases for the reinforcement of traditional hunting. The infrastructure project by Lateral Office / InfraNet Lab based in Toronto, Canada, and Princeton, N.J., also establishes new foundations for a sustainable, more independent economy.

Mohsen Mostafavi, head of jury and Dean of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, congratulated the project for creating a cohesive strategy that responds to the landscape, climatic and site conditions. “The project includes purposeful interventions which are integrated without any grand gestures or expensive structures – but instead bridges between the traditions of the Inuit and the expectations of the young generation. The project thereby provides an opportunity to create an improved future, in terms of both economic opportunity and a sustainable way of living,” he said.

The Holcim Awards Silver was presented to a design for a two-level zero energy certified school building to be constructed on multiple campuses throughout Los Angeles. The project led by architects Swift Lee Office of Los Angeles uses “off-the shelf” components and modular panels to create a pre-fabricated system that features a double-layered façade for solar, acoustic and environmental control, and achieves a climate-responsive solution for each site. The project was applauded by the jury for its thoroughly developed and comprehensively presented design, which manages the integration of a coherent technical and structural concept, yet retains spatial and conceptual simplicity.

The Holcim Awards Bronze was awarded to Julie Snow Architects of Minneapolis for a border-control station on the U.S. frontier to Canada at Van Buren, Maine. The approach meets a range of stringent regulations for safety, operation and durability, and yet is a highly aesthetic structure marking the national frontier. A zero net energy goal and water saving targets, challenged by the remote location of the site and energy demand for 24-hour operation, are achieved through features such as a ground source heating and cooling, a solar wall to temper outside ventilation air, a ground-coupled heat pump, peaking bio-diesel boilers, LED lights and lighting control systems to reduce fossil fuel consumption. The jury commended the design for successfully applying state-of-the-art features of sustainability in a government project with its regulatory implications.

Four projects were presented with an Acknowledgement prize.

  • An energy-efficient university building in Lawrence, Kan., by Dan Rockhill of Studio 804 which forms part of the University of Kansas architecture, design and planning curriculum and traces the entire process of planning and construction up to realization.
  • An energy-neutral portable classroom designed for use in Hawaii by Anderson Anderson Architecture of San Francisco that reaches manufacturing and transport efficiency, and achieves low operating costs and ease of maintenance.
  • An energy, water and waste-efficient military installation in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Washington, D.C., which adapts sustainable planning and construction to the military field.
  • And, the Ford Calumet Environmental Center by Studio Gang Architects of Chicago that reuses materials from the site's previous industrial function – while serving bird watchers and creating a dialog about the region's environmental past, present and future.