Photo by Benjamin Benschneider, courtesy of the AIA
The most architecturally impressive buildings of the year, at least according to architects, do more than just look nice. They actually make life better for the people living in and around them.
One student housing building in Boston, dubbed "a beacon" by an architect admiring it, has a stage in the center that's visible from the street. A home in Washington state is made of four separate buildings, facing unique landscaping on the property, that embrace the seasonal changes of the area surrounding them. A working family farm home in Tennessee, named after the family's truck, embraced both the old and new to create a harmonious home for a family that loved its land.
"Architecture has changed in the past year by not following any one particular trend, but by responding to the local conditions and working within that framework, " said Jon Dick of Archaeo Architects in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Dick was also a juror on the American Institute of Architects' 2015 Housing Awards panel, which annually recognizes 10 of the year's best buildings. All the winners, the theater and homes among them, are surprisingly personal to residents and aim to improve on the existing environment. All were inspired by the family histories, cultures and diverse life experiences of the people who live in them, and many of the architects go the extra mile to accommodate the landscapes and ecosystems of the land on which they're built.
"The projects selected this year were very different, " said Kathy Dixon of K. Dixon Architecture in Marlboro, Maryland, also a juror. "The similarities are less in their physical design and more in the design thinking that led to final results. There were conscious efforts to provide more community and sustainability in these design solutions and they were successfully executed."