From a biophilic design-embracing dialysis clinic in southeast Seattle to a considerate, efficiency-minded Iowan adaptive reuse project, to a multidisciplinary education building on the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology that just today received full Living Building Challenge certification, the winners of the American Institute of Architects (AIA)’s 2021 COTE (Committee on the Environment) Top Ten Awards are, as usual, a diverse bunch both programmatically and geographically. There’s one prevailing common thread: Whether new buildings, renovations, or larger urban plans, all of the winning projects advance climate action by integrating a number of ecological impact-lowering design solutions while aiming for ambitious performance benchmarks.
Per the AIA, all of this year’s singular winners “illustrate the solutions architects provide for the health and welfare of our communities and planet.” In other words, these projects represent the crème de la crème of sustainable design.
To qualify, projects submitted to the COTE Top Ten Awards must meet stringent criteria established by COTE, including economic, social, and ecological values, and achieve performance standards across ten key areas. The projects themselves can be located anywhere in the world (among the 2020 winners is a density-celebrating vertical campus building located across the northern border) but the submitting architect or firm must be licensed in the U.S. and is required to have signed the AIA 2030 Commitment. The first COTE Top Ten Awards program was held in 1997.
Projects are evaluated by a five-person jury panel, which this year was comprised of: Erica Cochran Hameen, Assoc. AIA (Carnegie Mellon University); Lynn Simon, FAIA (Google); Marlon Blackwell, FAIA (Marlon Blackwell Architects); Michelle Amt, AIA (VMDO Architects) and Renee Cheng, FAIA (University of Washington).
Without further ado, here are the winners (some projects will be familiar to AN readers) of the 2021 COTE Top Ten Awards, with each project name linking back to its full respective COTE Top Ten profile:
Arizona State University Hayden Library Reinvention | Ayers Saint Gross (Tempe, Arizona)
Lafayette College Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center | Payette (Easton, Pennsylvania)
The Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design | Lord Aeck Sargent in collaboration with The Miller Hull Partnership (Atlanta)
University of Washington, Life Sciences Building | Perkins&Will (Seattle)