Holcim Foundation



Sustainable construction awards showcase resource efficiency and innovation

The winning projects of the Holcim Awards 2014 for North America are at the cutting edge of efficiency and innovation in sustainable construction. The top prize went to a water supply and flood mitigation project in Las Vegas designed by Amy Mielke and Caitlin Taylor. BIG’s urban flood-protection concept for lower Manhattan was conferred the silver Award, and a zero-carbon compostable structure recently on display at MoMA New York designed by David Benjamin received bronze.

The prize-giving ceremony hosted at Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto – a Holcim Awards prize winning project in 2008 – included the launch of Community-inspired housing in Canada, a book that illustrates the success of a former Holcim Awards winner and the evolution of how communities are designed and built.

A total of 13 projects from across Canada and the United States by leading practitioners, as well as young professionals and students, were recognized at the Holcim Awards ceremony 2014 for North America with total prize money of USD 330,000. A jury of international experts led by Toshiko Mori (USA) selected the winners using the “target issues” for sustainable construction that consider environmental, social and economic performance – while also highlighting the need for architectural excellence and a high degree of transferability.

Infrastructure as architecture: Gold for water supply and flood mitigation infrastructure

A14NAgoUSnv-02.jpgPoreform, a water absorptive surface and subterranean basin that captures rain runoff and adds over 75,000 megaliters (20 billion gallons) to the water supply capacity of Las Vegas won the top prize. Designers Amy Mielke and Caitlin Taylor of Water Pore Partnership (USA) reposition water infrastructure as a civic project. Capable of rapid saturation and slow release, the flood-control pores of this “urban skin” are inlets to a new infrastructure that reframes water as a valuable resource rather than a liability. 

At the prize handover event in Toronto, jury member Mark Jarzombek praised the Holcim Awards Gold winning project for developing infrastructure as an architectural undertaking that is reclaimed as a truly public matter of concern, balancing social and design imperatives. “While designed for a specific site, the project offers a welcome answer to the general problem of water scarcity – a straightforward, but nonetheless beautiful proposition for a global challenge,” he said.

Protective ribbon: Silver for urban flood-protection infrastructure

The Rebuild by Design project that addresses New York City’s vulnerability to coastal flooding by using a raised berm and sequence of public spaces along the water’s edge won the Holcim Awards Silver. The 13km (8 mi) long infrastructural barrier to mitigate the impact of future storms with the devastating force of Hurricane Sandy was designed by a consortium led by architects Bjarke Ingels and Kai-Uwe Bergmann of BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group (Denmark/USA). The jury acknowledged the project’s sensitive blend of hard infrastructure and local community needs.

Towering biotechnology: Bronze for a zero-carbon compostable structure

A cluster of circular towers formed using reflective bricks, designed for and commissioned by the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program for construction in New York City received the Holcim Awards Bronze. The structure by David Benjamin of The Living architecture lab (USA) uses recent advances in biotechnology combined with cutting-edge computation and engineering to create new building materials that are almost fully organically-grown and compostable. The jury applauded the investigatory nature of the project, both in terms of its objective to research innovative construction materials and their architectural potential using organic bricks, made of a combination of corn stalks and fungal organisms.

Acknowledgement prizes for projects in Toronto, Seattle, Boston and Los Angeles

Architects Nader Tehrani and Katherine Faulkner of NADAAA in Boston received an Acknowledgement prize for the renovation and extension of the University of Toronto’s John H Daniels building, a culturally significant nineteenth century structure in the center of Toronto.

Further Acknowledgement prizes went to a public park and interactive wall for urban revival in Seattle by Paris-based ABF-lab architects whose master plan reintroduces a forest in the heart of the city; to Sheila Kennedy and J Frano Violich of Kennedy & Violich Architecture of Boston for the Chrysanthemum Building, an affordable residential urban infill development in Boston; and to Peter and Hadley Arnold of the Arid Lands Institute, Woodbury University for Divining LA, a digital tool for urban design and water-use planning in Los Angeles.

“Next Generation” prizes for young professionals and students

A14NAng1USny-02.jpgThe Holcim Awards competition also seeks visions and bold ideas in the “Next Generation” category. The jury decided to confer an unprecedented six prizes in recognition of the outstanding quality of submissions from across North America. The “Next Generation” 1st prize went to Debbie Chen (USA) for a municipal center for harvesting utility from waste in New York City. The jury greatly appreciated the idea to conceive a new type of urban infrastructure that offers an answer to the problematic interplay of material flows in urban environments.

The “Next Generation” 2nd prize was presented to Kenya Endo of Atelier Dreiseitl Asia (Singapore) for a proposal to utilize former coal mining sites for hydro-pump electricity storage in Greene County, Pennsylvania. The 3rd prize was awarded to Beomki Lee, Suk Lee and Daeho Lee, students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), for an air purification wall that transforms carbon dioxide into oxygen and explores the possibilities of bio-mimicry. Additional “Next Generation” prizes were awarded to Jonathan Enns from Toronto for an interlocking panelized timber building system; a group of students led by Mark Turibius Jongman-Sereno, Harvard University for an adaptive reuse of a parking structure for cultural activities in San Francisco; and Namjoo Kim at MIT for a new construction method for creating thin concrete panels.

Holcim Awards submissions for projects in North America were evaluated by an independent jury hosted by the MIT and included: Toshiko Mori (Head of jury, USA), Marc Angélil (Switzerland), Alain Bourguignon (United Kingdom), Dana Cuff (USA), Guillaume Habert (Switzerland), Mark Jarzombek (USA), Jeffrey Laberge (Canada), Lola Sheppard (Canada), and Sarah Whiting (USA).

Learning from Benny Farm in Montreal

A new book published by the Holcim Foundation examines two progressive and influential projects by Montreal-based architect Daniel Pearl and his team from l’OUEF and was launched at the Awards ceremony in Toronto. The approach to changing the way communities are designed and built tracks progress on the redevelopment of Benny Farm, the first ever Global Holcim Awards Bronze winner from 2006, a follow-up project at Rosemont, and plans for the forthcoming Bois Ellen Cooperative Residence. The projects include major innovations with respect to building envelope, energy efficiency, thermal comfort, and interior air quality that are rarely seen in this depth at this scale for affordable housing.

Benny Farm and Rosemont: Community-inspired housing in Canada, 128 pages, 14.8 cm x 21.0 cm, Paperback, English, ISBN: 978-3-7266-0098-3

Benny Farm and Rosemont: Community-inspired housing in Canada

Further information on the competition and each winning project including high resolution images for download is available at:


The Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction competition seeks innovative, future-oriented and tangible construction projects to promote sustainable responses to the technological, environmental, socioeconomic and cultural issues affecting building and construction on a local, regional and global level. The competition has been run by the Swiss-based Holcim Foundation since 2004, and offers USD 2 million in prize money per three-year cycle.

The ceremony in Toronto for the competition region North America followed the first presentation of winners in Moscow (for Europe). Further events will be held in Medellín (for Latin America), Beirut (for Africa Middle East) and Jakarta (for Asia Pacific). The projects that receive Holcim Awards Gold, Silver and Bronze in each region automatically qualify for the Global Holcim Awards 2015.

The Holcim Foundation is supported by Holcim Ltd and its Group companies in around 70 countries and is independent of its commercial interests. Holcim is one of the world’s leading suppliers of cement and aggregates (crushed stone, gravel and sand) as well as further activities such as ready-mix concrete and asphalt including services.

Holcim Awards 2014 prize-winning projects in North America

Main category

Holcim Awards Gold 2014 – USD 100,000
Poreform: Water absorptive surface and subterranean basin, Las Vegas, NV, USA
Main authors: Amy Mielke, Water Pore Partnership, New York, NY, USA; Caitlin Gucker-Kanter Taylor, Water Pore Partnership, Woodbridge, CT, USA
Further author: Keller Easterling, Yale School of Architecture, New Haven, CT, USA

Holcim Awards Silver 2014 – USD 50,000
Rebuild by Design: Urban flood protection infrastructure, New York, NY, USA
Main Authors: Bjarke Ingels, Thomas Christoffersen, Kai-Uwe Bergmann, Daniel Kidd and Jeremy Siegel, BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group; Laura Starr, Stephen Whitehouse, Andrea Parker and Melon Wedick, Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects & Planners; James Lima, James Lima Planning + Development; Steven Baumgartner, Buro Happold Engineering and Byron Stigge, Level Agency for Infrastructure, all New York, NY, USA; Matthijs Bouw and Ivo de Jeu, One Architecture, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Further authors: Christina Kaunzinger, Green Shield Ecology, Bridgewater, NJ, USA; Edgar J. Westerhof, ARCADIS, New York, NY, USA; Daniel Payne, AEA Consulting, Beacon, NY, USA; Prem Krishnamurthy, Project Projects, New York, NY, USA

Holcim Awards Bronze 2014 – USD 30,000
Hy-Fi: Zero carbon emissions compostable structure, New York, NY, USA
Main author: David Benjamin, The Living architecture lab, New York, NY, USA
Further authors: Danil Nagy, John Locke, Damon Lau, Ray Wang, Jim Stoddart, Dale Zhao, Nathan Smith, Christo Logan and Dan Taeyoung, The Living architecture lab, New York, NY, USA; Matt Clark and Shaina Saporta, Arup engineering, New York, NY, USA; Eben Bayer, Sam Harrington and Garrett Scheffler, Ecovative Design, Green Island, NY, USA; Gina Albanese, Kristal Reid and Byron Trotter, 3M, St. Paul, MN, USA

Holcim Awards Acknowledgement prizes 2014 – USD 25,000

Chrysanthemum Building: Affordable residential urban infill development, Boston, MA, USA
Main authors: Sheila Kennedy and J. Frano Violich, Kennedy & Violich Architecture, Boston, MA, USA
Further authors: Stratton B. Newbert and Michael Pang, Buro Happold Engineering, Boston, MA, USA; Karen J. Wynne, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Boston, MA, USA; Lucy Jen, Richmond So Engineers, Watertown, MA, USA

Heritage Reframed: University building renovation and extension, Toronto, ON, Canada
Main authors: Nader Tehrani and Katherine Faulkner, NADAAA, Boston, MA, USA
Further authors: Tas Candaras, A.M. Candaras associates, Woodbridge, ON, Canada; Claudina Sula, Adamson Associates Architects; Barry Charnish, Entuitive Corporation; Shaili Pytel, Mulvey & Banani International; Marc Ryan, Public Work; Phil Bastow, The Mitchel Partnership; David Rulff, MMM Group; Andrew Pruss, ERA architects; Jim Broomfield, Eastern construction company, all from Toronto, ON, Canada; Erik Olsen, Transsolar, New York, NY, USA

Holcim Awards Acknowledgement prizes 2014 – USD 15,000

Divining LA: Digital tool for urban design and water-use planning, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Main authors: Peter and Hadley Arnold, Arid Lands Institute, Woodbury University, Burbank, CA, USA
Further authors: Ethan Dingwell and Karim Snoussi, Arid Lands Institute, Woodbury University, Burbank, CA, USA

In-Closure: Public park and interactive wall for urban revival, Seattle, WA, USA
Authors: Etienne Feher, Paul Azzopardi and Noé Basch, ABF-lab architects, Paris, France 

“Next Generation” prizes

Holcim Awards “Next Generation” 1st prize 2014 – USD 25,000
Trash for Use: Municipal center for harvesting utility from waste, New York, NY, USA
Author: Debbie Chen, New York, NY, USA

Holcim Awards “Next Generation” 2nd prize 2014 – USD 15,000
Machine Landscape: Coal mining sites for hydro-pump electricity storage, Greene County, PA, USA
Author: Kenya Endo, Atelier Dreiseitl asia, Singapore

Holcim Awards “Next Generation” 3rd prize 2014 – USD 10,000
Pleura Pod: Air purification wall transforming carbon dioxide into oxygen, Cambridge, MA, USA
Authors: Beomki Lee, Suk Lee and Daeho Lee, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA

Holcim Awards “Next Generation” 4th prize 2014 – USD 7,500
Timber-Link: Interlocking panelized timber building system, Cape Dorset, NU, Canada
Author: Jonathan Enns, Enns Design/solidoperations, Toronto, ON, Canada

Holcim Awards “Next Generation” 5th prize 2014 – USD 7,500
Evolutionary Infrastructure: Adaptive reuse of a parking structure for cultural activities, San Francisco, CA, USA
Authors: Mark Turibius Jongman-Sereno, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA; Mira Irawan, New York University, New York, NY, USA; David O’Brien, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA

Holcim Awards “Next Generation” 6th prize 2014 – USD 7,500
Latex Formwork: Concrete wall panel construction method, Cambridge, MA, USA
Author: Namjoo Kim, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA

Last Updated: September 18, 2014
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