Sustainability isn't one of the specific categories recognized by the AIA in its Honor Awards program. It might as well be. Sustainable design is a theme that threads through all of the individual award categories, from interior architecture to regional design. Even the 25-Year Award acknowledges the role of sustainability in design, despite the fact that sustainability was hardly the industry buzz-word that it is today. That award, which the AIA gave to the Menil Collection by Renzo Piano, Hon. FAIA, recognizes the impact that the building has had on museum design everywhere. Yet if that building helped to spark Piano's career, it also gave a serious boost to sustainable design, since Piano has worked at a highly visible level to promote the role of sustainability in design and the obligation of architects to design sustainably. Piano explained as much in an interview from early 2009.

Perhaps it's possible to read the lack of a sustainable design category for the Honor Awards a different way. Because sustainable design is the architectural obligation that Piano describes, then it's a given that sustainability will be a feature of prominent projects—or it should be a given, for architects and clients alike. Arguably, all of the Honor Award designs feature some green features. Nevertheless, sustainability helped some projects win out in their Honor Award categories more than others. So here is a list of the top projects in part because they emphasized sustainability.


The best in sustainability, 2013 Honor Awards: Architecture

Art Stable , by Olson Kundig Architects (Seattle): The large steel-clad doors that open into the seven-story mixed-use project can be operated using a custom hand wheel and hinge—a system that also makes it possible to life large objects from the alley into each of the building's five units. The building also features a unique system of geothermal loops, the first of its kind in the U.S.

The Barnes Foundation , by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects (Philadelphia): To enable the relocation of the Barnes from its historic home in Merion, Penn., to downtown Philadelphia, the firm replicated the proportion and configuration of the original galleries in a larger facility that also features a garden and new classroom space. 

Centra Metropark , by Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) (Iselin, N.J.): The firm added 10,000 square feet to the top floor to a dated, suburban structure, making for a contemporary office environment through the use of a high-performance enclosure. This project won a 2011 Annual Design Review award.

Lee Hall College of Architecture addition at Clemson University, by Thomas Phifer and Partners (Clemson, S.C.): The 55,000-square-foot addition accommodates 12 different degree programs by introducing creative interdisciplinary exchanges throughout the exceedingly energy-efficient building.

Mason Lane Farm Operations Facility , by De Leon & Primmer Architecture Workshop (Goshen, Ky.): The design by De Leon & Primmer for this farm complex takes several buildings and farm operations and consolidates them in one. The firm used locally grown bamboo to make a resilient building skin for a structure otherwise made with a conventional kit-of-parts approach.

Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges , renovation, by KieranTimberlake (New Haven, Conn.): The renovation of the Yale University residential colleges designed by Eero Saarinen provides 25,000 square feet of new student activity space below grade and transforms outdoor hardscapes into a sustainable landscape.

Vancouver Convention Center West , by LMN Architects + MCM/DA, (Vancouver, Canada): This LEED Canada Platinum–certified project unifies Vancouver's urban core with its harbor by highlighting natural landforms through interior architecture, urban design, and civic spaces that blend with the natural ecosystem.



The best in sustainability, 2013 Honor Awards: Regional/Urban Design

Burnham Place at Union Station Master Plan , by Shalom Baranes Associates and HOK  (Washington, D.C.): A 3 million-square-foot addition to Washington’s historic Union Station connects Daniel Burnham’s landmark structure with its surrounding neighborhood via bike lanes and public amenities beneath a rippling green roof. 

Coal Harbour Convention District , LMN Architects and MCM/DA (Vancouver, Canada): Capitalizing on local marine ecosystems, the Coal Harbor Convention District creates a layered atmosphere capable of hosting civic events in public gathering spaces with built and natural site improvements beside the convention center. 

The Great Lakes Century – A 100-Year Vision , Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (Great Lakes Region, United States): SOM's framework for establishing a century-long plan for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin aggregates research from more than 35 organizations and looks ahead for opportunities to preserve the environment. 

Nanhu New Country Village Master Plan , Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (Nanhu District, Jiaxing, China): In looking ahead at the Nanhu Village's transition from rural to urban, SOM aims to maintain a focus on farming and wetlands improvement while developing into a modern, sustainable community. 

Parkmerced Vision Plan , Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (San Francisco): Ensuring stability for existing residents of Parkmerced is just one component of a neighborhood revitalization plan that will encourage pedestrian activity and public transportation while reducing energy and water consumption within the district.



The best in sustainability, 2013 Honor Awards: Interior Architecture

Charles Smith Wines Tasting Room and World Headquarters , by Olson Kundig Architects (Walla Walla, Wash.): Olson Kundig took a 1917 Johnson Auto Electric building and outfitted it with a tasting room, offices, and retail store, including flexible spaces, such as a large unit that the firm calls the "armadillo."

Lamar Advertising Corporate Headquarters , by Eskew+Dumez+Ripple (Baton Rouge, La.): The firm turned an unremarkable 1970s data center into a new corporate headquarters featuring an interior, outdoor "garden room" to compensate for the windowless floor plate. 

McAllen Main Library , by Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle (MS&R) (McAllen, Texas): The city decided to convert an abandoned big box Walmart store into a new central library. Featuring 125,000 square feet on one level, the building features spaces distinguished by materials, forms, and colors. 

The Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity , by BNIM (Kansas City, Mo.): BNIM relocated the Kansas City Ballet into the 52,000-square-foot former Power House coal-burning plant at Kansas City's Union Station. The building, which was completed in 1914 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2004, sat abandoned from the 1970s until 2006.