Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize Announces Recipients


Wiel Arets, Dean of the Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture, and Dirk Denison, Director of the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP), announced yesterday evening that Grace Farms (New Canaan, Connecticut, US) by the firm SANAA is the recipient of the 2014/2015 MCHAP, recognizing the most distinguished architectural works built on the North and South American continents. Kazuko Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, founders of the Pritzker-­winning architecture firm SANAA, were recognized with the MCHAP Award, the MCHAP Chair at IIT Architecture Chicago for the following academic year, and $50,000 in funding toward research and publication.

The recipient was announced at a benefit dinner, co-­chaired by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, David Kohler, and Phyllis Lambert, and held at Illinois Institute of Technology’s S. R. Crown Hall on Wednesday, October 19. The event started with a reception and viewing of finalists’ projects, a welcome and student prize presentation, and a presentation of the award finalists, followed by a dinner and the awarding of the MCHAP, and remarks by Kazuko Sejima from SANAA who accepted the award on the firm’s behalf. Earlier, a day-­long public symposium included the finalists and clients in morning breakout sessions with students and faculty, followed by an afternoon roundtable with the jury.

Grace Farms’ building, which spreads beneath a long, undulating roof, follows the landscape and floats in the center of the site. Winding and crossing the hills freely, this wood-­frame structure, now known as the River, creates numerous covered outdoor spaces while also forming courtyards. Since opening to the public in October 2015, Grace Farms has functioned as both a peaceful respite and a place of vibrant activity. The River building draws people in to engage with the site’s natural landscape and serves as the springboard for Grace Farms’ mission and programs. Within the first six months, approximately 50,000 people visited Grace Farms to participate in architectural tours, community dinners, lectures and discussions, concerts, athletics, and worship services—or to explore the 80-­acre site on an individual basis. New Canaan provided a context in which Eliot Noyes, Marcel Breuer, Philip Johnson, and others helped to rethink residential modernism in the United States. Mies was a direct influence in New Canaan through his influence on Johnson, and the architectural design for Grace Farms builds in part on Mies’s legacy, including his 1928 vision of a skyscraper with curved glass.

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.

In addition to Grace Farms, the finalists for MCHAP included:

• Weekend House by Angelo Bucci, Săo 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, US

The nominees for the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize were selected by a network of 95 professionally diverse, international ambassadors from throughout the Americas. Each nominator was asked to propose a maximum of five projects that represented the best projects realized in the Americas over the previous two years. The six MCHAP finalists were chosen by a jury composed of Wiel Arets, Dean of the College of Architecture and Rowe Family College of Architecture Dean Endowed Chair at Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago; Florencia Rodriguez, architect, critic, and Founder and Editorial Director of Piedra, Papel y Tijera publishers in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Ila Berman, Dean and Edward E. Elson Professor, University of Virginia School of Architecture, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Jean Pierre Crousse, Principal of Barclay & Crousse Architecture, co-­founded with Sandra Barclay in France in 1994; Associate Professor of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Lima, Peru; and Stan Allen, registered architect in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania and former Dean of the School of Architecture at Princeton University. To select the winner of MCHAP, the jury traveled to the sites on the MCHAP shortlist in order to experience these built works firsthand.

Stan Allen, MCHAP Jury President, says, 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.

Of the 2014/2015 winner, Allen adds, Among a strong group of projects Grace Farms emerged as a clear winner for the clarity and consistency of its architectural solution. The jury was struck by the radical way in which the line between architecture and landscape is blurred by the ‘River’ building. The firsthand experience of the building reveals a confident realization and the immediacy of its detailing. Finally, the Grace Farms project uniquely demonstrates architecture’s capacity to make a place for an innovative new institution.

The winner of the newly established student award, MCHAP.student, was also announced yesterday. The award was given to (a)typical office by Tommy Kyung-­Tae Nam and Yun Yun from the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan. Tommy Kyung-­Tae Nam currently works as a Designer at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), Chicago. Previously, he worked as a Junior Designer at SHoP Architects in New York and as an Architectural Intern at SOM in Chicago. He received a Master of Architecture at the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Growing up in the city of Chicago inspired and catalyzed his passion for the field and study of architecture. Nam is specifically interested in work consisting of the collection of data, analysis of information and space, and networks of forces that define and expand architecture. He is one of the most recent recipients of the Architecture Student Research Grant at Taubman College, for his project The Dialogue between Drawing Machines and Human Ambience.

Born in China, Yun Yun works at Michael Maltzan Architecture, Los Angeles. Previously, she worked at RTKL in Shanghai and THUPID in Beijing. She received a Master of Civil Engineering from Purdue University, a Master of Architecture from Taubman College, and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Tianjin University, China. A LEED Green Associate, Yun is interested in design that incorporates advanced technologies and refined details.

Nam and Yun 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.

As part of the MCHAP mission to illuminate the best built works of architecture in the Americas, the authors of each winning project collaborate with IIT Architecture Chicago and MCHAP to undertake research and to produce a publication. In addition to the awarding of MCHAP and MCHAP.student, Denison announced the publication of MCHAP: The Americas, a significant research publication, edited by Fabrizio Gallanti. Denison says, “The publication of MCHAP: The Americas fulfills a core objective of the Americas Prize: to seek out, understand, and bring awareness to built works of architecture that in their own specific way are having an impact on our world.”

MCHAP: The Americas complements the three 2000–2013 cycle MCHAP winner publications. Treacherous Transparencies, authored by Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron following the receipt of the MCHAP2009–2013 for 1111 Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, was the first IIT Architecture Chicago imprint, completed in partnership with Actar and published in June 2016, in English, German, and Spanish editions. This will be joined by a forthcoming publication, authored by Ken Frampton, on Alvaro Siza, whose Iberę Camargo Foundation in Porto Alegre, Brazil, was the MCHAP2000–2008 winner;; and a publication titled Naďve Intention, covering work done by Pezo Von Ellrichshausen, whose Poli House on the Coliumo peninsula, Chile, was the winner of the inaugural MCHAP.emerge in 2014.


The Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP) is a biennial prize that acknowledges the best built works of architecture in the Americas. MCHAP was conceived by Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture Dean Wiel Arets, who, in his 2013 inaugural address, offered “Rethinking Metropolis” as a strategic device for the college, for research, for the development of knowledge and skills, for taking part in design exercises, for debate, and for making. Dean Arets outlined his plan for a revitalized curriculum in NOWNESS, a publication in which he announced MCHAP among other initiatives. The first cycle of this award culminated in 2014 with the selection of seven finalists and then two winners: the Iberę Camargo Foundation in Porto Alegre, Brazil, designed by Alvaro Siza, and 1111 Lincoln Road, the mixed-­use parking structure in Miami Beach, Florida, US, designed by Herzog & de Meuron. MCHAP is supported by Kohler Co., the Alphawood Foundation, and the Mies van der Rohe Society at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Visit www.mchap.org.


The MCHAP.student award was created to energize American discourse among young architects. For the inaugural award, MCHAP invited a network of schools from throughout the Americas to submit the most outstanding project by a 2015/2016 graduating student that addresses the metropolis through an architectural proposal. All submitted student projects were reviewed by the MCHAP Jury, and the winner was invited to S. R. Crown Hall, expenses paid, to be presented with the award by the jury alongside the MCHAP winners at the awards ceremony on October 19, 2016. The student project winner will be acknowledged with a Research Fellowship at IIT Architecture Chicago and a $10,000 commitment toward a production of a Research Fellowship.

About IIT Architecture Chicago

The College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT Architecture Chicago) welcomes students, faculty, and guests from around the globe who share an interest in “Rethinking the Metropolis.” IIT Architecture Chicago conducts research, analyzes existing phenomena, and learns from other disciplines, questioning the roles of architecture, landscape, and urbanism in our changing world. The curriculum is structured around the innovative “horizontal Cloud Studio” introduced by Dean Wiel Arets—a school-­wide design and research laboratory in which students from all degree programs work together on topics related to the metropolis. With a history of design excellence and technical expertise, an unmatched professional studio curriculum, and inspiring surroundings in S. R. Crown Hall designed by Mies van der Rohe, IIT Architecture Chicago is one of the schools most respected by architectural firms around the world. The college offers a five-­year Bachelor of Architecture degree, four different Master’s degrees (M.Arch, M.L.A., M.L.A./M.Arch., MS.Arch.), and the only Ph.D. in Architecture offered in Chicago. Visit www.arch.iit.edu.

About Illinois Institute of Technology

Illinois Institute of Technology, also known as Illinois Tech, is a private, technology-­focused research university, located in Chicago, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, science, architecture, business, design, human sciences, applied technology, and law. One of 21 institutions that comprise the Association of Independent Technological Universities (AITU), Illinois Tech offers exceptional preparation for professions that require technological sophistication, an innovative mindset, and an entrepreneurial spirit. 

For more information about MCHAP, MCHAP.emerge, and MCHAP.student, including purpose, process, and timeline, visit www.mchap.org.