SANAA’s Grace Farms wins Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize

Architecture Awards International
(Courtesy Iwan Baan)
(Courtesy Iwan Baan)

Japanese firm SANAA has been awarded the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP) for 2014/15 for their Grace Farms project in New Canaan, Connecticut. The MCHAP prize seeks to recognize the “most distinguished architectural works built on the North and South American continents.” The founders of SANAA, Kazuko Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, were awarded $50,000 at the prize ceremony yesterday evening at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s S. R. Crown Hall in Chicago where Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was also in attendance as co-chair. The prize money will go toward funding research and publication (the exact subject, of which, seems to-be-determined).

SANAA’s winning project, Grace Farms, opened in October last year. The building, known as The River, features a ribbon-like, undulating roofscape that meanders through its natural context. With a glass facade on either side and being elevated by stilts, the roof appears to float through its surroundings. The River attracted 50,000 within the first six months of it opening, with visitors taking part in architectural tours, community dinners, lectures and discussions, concerts, athletics, and worship services and just simply exploring the 80-acre site.

(Courtesy Iwan Baan)

(Courtesy Iwan Baan)

In addition to Grace Farms, the finalists for MCHAP comprised the following:

  • Weekend House by Angelo Bucci, São Paulo, Brazil
  • UTEC Campus by Grafton Architects, Lima, Peru
  • Pachacamac Museum by Llosa Cortegana, Lima, Peru
  • Tower 41 by Alberto Kalach, Mexico City, Mexico
  • Star Apartments by Michael Maltzan, Los Angeles, California, U.S.

Stan Allen, MCHAP Jury President, said in a press release, “As a jury, we were looking not only for buildings of exceptional quality, but also for buildings that contribute something new to the discipline. We were very impressed by the high quality of the work coming from such a wide variety of cultures. There may be a global architecture culture today, but each place we visited had its own identity and every project responded to a specific context. As a jury we also observed common themes: All of the projects, even those in urban areas, engage with landscape; they all embrace architecture as a force for change; and finally, all of them find a delicate balance between innovation and the history of the discipline.”

While SANAA took the main prize, Tommy Kyung-Tae Nam and Yun Yun from the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan were announced as winners of the recently established student award. Nam and Yun claimed the Taubman College Burton L. Kampner Memorial Award for their (a)typical office project which was developed with the guidance of Faculty Advisor Adam Fure.

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