Super Structures

This year's best architecture projects bring elegance, economy, and spirit to the solution of business problems

The power of architecture to integrate people, spaces, and even complex workflow is the dominant theme running through this year's BUSINESS WEEK/Architectural Record Awards, sponsored by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Architects used materials such as glass to enhance the transparency of work and bring together various teams. They crafted office spaces to spark creative interaction among employees--and corporate clients. And they mastered the "wow factor" by designing a "cosmic cathedral" of glass and steel, a planetarium of astonishing beauty that allows people to see through walls to learn about the stars and the planets.

If this contest is any measure, the awareness of architecture's abilities to expand market share and generate revenue appears to be spreading. Indeed, architecture's special ability to generate buzz and attract mass audiences and elite participants is increasingly evident to private businesses and public institutions.

This is the fourth annual BUSINESS WEEK/Architectural Record Awards contest (BUSINESS WEEK and Architectural Record are owned by The McGraw-Hill Companies (MHP); Architectural Record has its own write-up in the October issue). It is unique among major awards programs in that the jury includes both businesspeople and architects. Applications are judged on the basis of architectural renderings and business plans. The goal is to solve difficult business problems with architectural solutions. Serving on this year's jury: William Agnello, vice-president at Sun Microsystems (SUNW); Edward Ciffone, senior vice-president at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter (MWD); and Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence and guru of management, innovation, and, recently, design to Corporate America.

The extraordinary range of projects shows architecture's reach. An entire container-shipping terminal in Los Angeles was redesigned to increase the efficiency of the trucks moving through its 175 acres. From a graceful canopy that shields lunching truckers from the rain to gates, guard booths, and landscaped patios, architects improved productivity as well as the rough working environment.

A terraced wall of green that climbs up a 15-story office and municipal building in Fukuoka, Japan, extends a public park--vertically. In India, combining modern architecture with traditional clay and other local materials permits the new Mahindra United World College to create a campus that hugs the rolling hills of the Sahayadri Mountains--and attract students and faculty from around the world.

French-based Valeo Thermal Systems, a supplier of new and replacement automotive equipment, and their architects used glass to bring together designers, engineers, and production people in their new Auburn Hills (Mich.) facility. Glass walls enhance visual contact between different teams, and skylights flood the entire building with natural light. There is a certain elegance to glass, a key material used by many winners this year.

The AIA chooses the jury that judges the BUSINESS WEEK/Architectural Record contest. This year there were 147 entries, with 131 coming from the private sector and 16 from the public. The largest category of entrants was for new construction of buildings, followed by interiors and renovation of older structures. There were big projects and small--37 projects submitted were more than $25 million and 22 less than $1 million. Entries came from 22 countries, including Japan, India, Australia, Canada, Britain, Barbados, Malaysia, Virgin Islands, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and the U.S.

Architecture here is transformative not just of small spaces--be they work areas or schoolrooms--but also of huge structures, such as planetariums and shipping terminals. It solves problems inside the passageways that connect subways to retail stores in Japan, or outside on Indian mountainsides. It can integrate complex components to create something entirely new and profitable. A more detailed look at the winners of this year's BUSINESS WEEK/Architectural Record Awards and why they won begins on page 122.

BUSINESS WEEK/Architectural RecordAwards 2000 Jury Members: WILLIAM AGNELLO, VP of Workplace Resources, Sun Microsystems; CAROL ROSS BARNEY, Founder and President, Ross Barney & Jankowski; EDWARD CIFFONE, Senior VP and Facilities Director, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter; HENRY COBB, Founding Partner, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners; JULIE EIZENBERG, President, Koning Eizenberg Architecture; ROBIN M. ELLERTHORPE, Senior Associate Director, Facilities Consulting, O'Donnell Wicklund Pigozzi & Peterson Architects; JAMES O. JONASSEN, Managing Partner, NBBJ; TOM PETERS, CHAIRMAN, Tom Peters Group; WILSON POLLOCK, Founder and President, ADD; JANE WEINZAPFEL, Principal, Leers Weinzapfel Associates

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