By Justine Testado|
Wednesday, Oct 19, 2016
The big announcement is finally out! SANAA's meandering Grace Farms community center has won the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize for the 2014/2015 cycle, as announced by IIT College of Architecture Dean Wiel Arets and MCHAP Director Dirk Denison during a ceremony tonight at the S.R. Crown Hall in Chicago. First awarded in 2014, the biennial MCHAP illuminates distinguished architectural projects built in the Americas. Projects for the second edition had to be completed between January 2014 and December 2015.
As part of their prize package, SANAA founders Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa will be appointed as MCHAP Chair at IIT Architecture Chicago for the following academic year and will receive up to US$50,000 to fund research and a collaborative publication with the school.
Read on for more.
Completed last October amid Grace Farms' green rolling landscape in New Canaan, Connecticut, the SANAA-designed “River” building won over an international group of MCHAP finalists including Michael Maltzan, Grafton Architects, and Patkau Architects + Kearns Mancini Architects, to name a few.
The 83,000-square foot community center serves as an epicenter for Grace Farms' programs and aims to offer visitors a space of “peaceful respite and vibrant activity”.
The wood-frame structure consists of transparent-walled, multi-purpose volumes and covered walkways that wind down the park's rolling terrain. Its milky-white exterior contrasts against the nearby woodlands and meadows, while the glass walls show off the surrounding community gardens, athletic fields, and trails that SANAA designed with landscape architecture practice OLIN.
During the River's bustling grand opening last year, Grace Farms invited the public to architecture tours, community dinners, lectures, concerts, athletic functions, worship services, or to freely explore the Farms' 80-acre landscape. "We invite people to shape their own personal experiences at Grace Farms,“ Grace Farms Foundation President Sharon Prince said in a previous statement. "The possibilities are as open as the landscape itself." Within the first six months, an estimated 50,000 people visited the site.
The design for Grace Farms drew inspiration partly from Mies van der Rohe, Philip Johnson, and other 20th-century icons who transformed American residential modernism while working in New Canaan. According to an MCHAP statement, “Although Mies and Johnson were not direct models, they helped set the aspiration for transcendent lightness: a structure that would float on the landscape while also being fully integrated with it.”
“Among a strong group of projects, Grace Farms emerged as a clear winner for the clarity and consistency of its architectural solution...,” MCHAP Jury President Stan Allen commented. “The firsthand experience of the building reveals a confident realization and the immediacy of its detailing.”
In this MCHAP cycle, architecture students got to compete in the inaugural MCHAP.Student Prize, which the MCHAP Jury awarded to (a)typical office by Tommy Kyung-Tae Nam and Yun Yun from the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. The winners will “be acknowledged with an IIT Architecture Research Fellowship and a $10,000 commitment toward a production of a Research Fellowship”. Tommy Kyung-Tae Nam currently works as a designer at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in Chicago, while Yun Yun works at Michael Maltzan Architecture in Los Angeles. Nam and Yun previously received the Taubman College Burton L. Kampner Memorial Award for best graduate thesis project for (a)typical office, developed with the guidance of Faculty Advisor Adam Fure.
Find more Grace Farms project images in the image gallery below. You can also take another look at the MCHAP Finalist projects.
All photos courtesy of 2014/2015 MCHAP.
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