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AIA Names Top 10 Most Sustainable Projects of 2015

Ten projects have been named the top examples of sustainable and ecological design by the AIA and its Committee on the Environment (COTE) for the year 2015. Now in its 19th edition, the COTE Top Ten Awards program recognizes projects that adhere to the highest integration of natural systems and technology to produce spaces that positively impact their surroundings and minimize their environmental footprints.

All of the projects will be honored at the 2015 AIA National Convention and Design Exposition in Atlanta. See this year's top ten sustainable designs, after the break.

New Orleans BioInnovation Center / Eskew+Dumez+Ripple. Image © Timothy Hursley University Center / Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Image © James Ewing Sweetwater Spectrum Community / Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects. Image © Tim Griffith Hughes Warehouse Adaptive Reuse / Overland Partners. Image © Dror Baldinger

March ABI Continues to Increase

For the second consecutive month, the US Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has indicated a "modest increase" in design activity in March. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the March ABI score was 51.7, up from a mark of 50.4 in February. The new projects inquiry index was 58.2, up from a reading of 56.6 the previous month.

“Business conditions at architecture firms generally are quite healthy across the country. However, billings at firms in the Northeast were set back with the severe weather conditions, and this weakness is apparent in the March figures,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “The multi-family residential market has seen its first occurrence of back-to-back negative months for the first time since 2011, while the institutional and commercial sectors are both on solid footing.”

3 Projects Win 2015 Global Holcim Awards for Sustainability

Emerging from over 6,000 entries, three winners of the fourth Global Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction have been selected. The international competition, occurring every three years, recognizes designs that provide sustainable solutions to local issues faced by communities throughout the world. This year's winning projects addressed sites in Colombia, Sri Lanka, and the United States and will receive monetary prizes ranging from $50,000 to $200,000.

The winning entries were selected from last year's top-prize recipients in the five regional Holcim Awards competitions, a total of 15 proposals (see our previous coverage here). An international jury of industry leaders, led by Mohsen Mostafavi (Dean of Harvard University's Graduate School of Design), determined the winners of the 2015 Global Holcim Awards.

See the winners after the break.

BRONZE: BIG U contains a protective ribbon: 21 km (13 mi) of flood protection tailored to each neighborhood and the community it serves. Image Courtesy of Holcim Foundation BRONZE: View of BIG U from The Battery in the financial district. Berms are strategically located to protect the infrastructure below and create a protective upland landscape. Image Courtesy of Holcim Foundation SILVER: The common lobby with its panoramic window. Image Courtesy of Holcim Foundation BRONZE: The undulating berm in East River Park will rise 15 feet to provide flood protection and connect coast and community. Image Courtesy of Holcim Foundation

AIA Names 10 Most Impressive Houses of 2015

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) have announced the recipients of the 2015 Housing Awards. Currently in its 15th year, the awards are designed to “recognize the best in US housing design” and “promote the importance of good housing as a necessity of life, a sanctuary for the human spirit and a valuable national resource.” This year, the jury awarded ten designs in three categories. See them all, after the break. 

Marlboro Music: Five Cottages / HGA Architects and Engineers Broadway Affordable Housing / Kevin Daly Architects 160 Massachusetts Avenue Tower / William Rawn Associates. Image © Bruce T. Martin Photography Bayview Hill Gardens / David Baker Architects. Image © Matt Edge

Living Building Challenge Now Fulfills LEED Energy and Water Requirements

The Living Building Challenge will now fulfill the energy and water requirements for LEED. As the U.S. Green Building Council announced, this marks an important step in the USGBC's mission to make LEED an accessible platform that complements other construction rating systems.

The USGBC's decision essentially equates the two systems in the fields of water and energy efficiency, recognizing projects that meet the Living Building Challenge's standards within these areas as equivalent to LEED standards. By doing so, it encourages a spirit of collaboration toward sustainable goals across competing rating systems.

International Spy Museum Aims to Relocate to New Richard Rogers Building

The Washington DC International Spy Museum is seeking permission to relocate to a new $100 million building designed by Richard Rogers at L’Enfant Plaza. Contingent on approval from the Commission of Fine Arts, as the Washington Business Journal reports, the new 100,000-square-foot, six-story proposed museum would be sited on an open area adjacent to the L'Enfant Plaza hotel.

“I think everyone in the city knows that’s somewhat of a dead area right now,” said Spy Museum Chief Operating Officer Tamara Christian to WBJ. “When we came to Penn Quarter, it was somewhat of a dead area. Now it’s completely energized, and we’re really hoping that we’ll be able to be a catalyst to energize L’Enfant.”

Inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial Announces 2015 Participants

A 60-strong list of international studios has named the official participants of the first-ever Chicago Architecture Biennial - the “largest international survey of contemporary architecture in North America.” Chosen by Biennial Co-Artistic Directors Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda - who are supported by an advisory council comprising David Adjaye, Elizabeth Diller, Jeanne Gang, Frank Gehry, Sylvia Lavin, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Peter Palumbo, and Stanley Tigerman - each participating practice will convene in Chicago to discuss "The State of the Art of Architecture" and showcase their work from October 3 to January 3, 2016.

“The city of Chicago has left an indelible mark on the field of architecture, from the world’s first modern skyscraper to revolutionary urban designs,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “That’s why there’s no better host city than Chicago for this rare global event. The Chicago Architecture Biennial offers an unprecedented chance to celebrate the architectural, cultural, and design advancements that have collectively shaped our world.”

A complete list of participants, after the break. 

Princeton St. Bungalow / Ruben S. Ojeda Architects + Koning Eizenberg Architecture

© Shawn Bishop © Shawn Bishop © Shawn Bishop © Shawn Bishop

Studio Gang Goes Public with Chicago's Newest Tower: Wanda Vista

Studio Gang Architects has gone public with what will be Chicago's third tallest tower, Wanda Vista. The massive mixed-use development, planned to open adjacent to the Chicago River in the city's Lake Shore East community by 2019, will reach 1100 feet (335 meters) and encompass more than 1.8 million-square-feet of residential and hotel space. 

Defined by three vertical elements, the tower is shaped to maximize resident views of the city and river below. 

AIAS Launches Campaign to Promote Early Licensing

The AIAS has launched a new campaign, the Professional Advancement Support Scholarship, or PASS. The program, available for AIAS alumni pursuing licensure, provides incentive for recent graduates to take a portion of the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) by reimbursing them for successfully undertaking this task. Through a proactive approach, coupled with an informative blog series, the AIAS encourages aspiring architects to actively seek licensure to kick-start their professional careers. 

Conservation Hall / archimania

© David Sundberg/ESTO © David Sundberg/ESTO © David Sundberg/ESTO © David Sundberg/ESTO

House in Valley Street / Baran Studio Architecture

© Peter Lyons © Peter Lyons © Peter Lyons © Peter Lyons

Grimshaw to Masterplan Washington DC's Union Station

Grimshaw Architects has been asked to collaborate with New York-based Beyer Blinder Belle on a $10 billion masterplan that will modernize Washington DC's 1913 Beaux Arts Union Station. Along with the potential to triple passenger capacity, the plan aims to make the station more accessible and efficient, while integrate a new three-million-square-foot, mixed-use development by Amtrak and Akridge over its rail tracks. 

"Washington DC deserves a station that serves the region on a practical level whilst celebrating the gateway to the nation’s capital," said Grimshaw partner Vincent Chang.

Trousdale Estates Contemporary Home / Dennis Gibbens Architects

Courtesy of Dennis Gibbens Architects Courtesy of Dennis Gibbens Architects Courtesy of Dennis Gibbens Architects Courtesy of Dennis Gibbens Architects

Snøhetta Designs New Kitchen for The French Laundry in California

Snøhetta has unveiled designs for a new kitchen at "one of the world's best restaurants," The French Laundry in Napa Valley. The restaurant's first major overhaul in 20 years, its kitchen will be expanded by 25 percent while the historic structure will remain untouched. 

“An experience at any of Chef Keller’s restaurants transcends expectation. The kitchen is the starting point for an architecture of connection, energy and authenticity. As Chef Keller makes us aware, the kitchen is where all the senses are first ignited,” said Craig Dykers, Founding Partner of Snøhetta. “The French Laundry kitchen is both primal and innovative, setting the stage for culinary magic.”

Epsilon / Eastlake Studio

  • Architects: Eastlake Studio
  • Location: 1 Pierce Place, Itasca, IL 60143, USA
  • Area: 42000.0 ft2
  • Photographs: Steve Hall

© Steve Hall © Steve Hall © Steve Hall © Steve Hall

Capitol Reef Desert Dwelling / Imbue Design

  • Architects: Imbue Design
  • Location: Capitol Reef National Park, Torrey, UT, USA
  • Structural Engineer: Shen Engineering
  • Contractor: Moosman Construction
  • Area: 1800.0 ft2
  • Project Year: 2014
  • Photographs: Courtesy of Imbue Design

Courtesy of Imbue Design Courtesy of Imbue Design Courtesy of Imbue Design Courtesy of Imbue Design

These Maps Reveal Just How Disjointed Many US Bike Lanes Are

As cities worldwide are plagued with increasingly congested streets, more people are turning to bicycles to ease their commute. To accommodate the trend, bike lanes have been popping up around cities, yet often in a disjointed manner. A series of maps compiled by the Washington Post illustrates this surprisingly sporadic cycle infrastructure in several US cities. 

Cropping up as afterthoughts in the existing urban fabric, many US bicycle networks consist of fragmented stretches of bike lanes and “sharrows” (shared car and bike lanes) loosely bound together by their proximity. In the case of Washington D.C., most of these are under a mile in length. A lack of cohesion and continuity leads to commuter chaos, forcing cyclists onto unprotected shoulders or into traffic when their designated lanes pull a disappearing act. Take a look at the maps after the break.