LafargeHolcim Awards honor sustainable projects that go the extra mile in Chicago

Sustainability has become a core principle of architecture and construction in North America. Prize winners of the LafargeHolcim Awards presented in Chicago showed that the cutting-edge of sustainable design is the preserve of projects that push the boundaries of conventional thought. Their approaches use proven instruments that are cleverly applied to improve the quality of life of inhabitants and communities.


No longer just a dream

In North America, architects, engineers, urban planners, and developers began to experiment with sustainable technologies and concepts very early on. "Around ten years ago, sustainable construction was commonly seen as adding solar panels to a building,” Engineer Dominique Corvez, member of the Awards jury, confirms. “Now I can see sustainability really is a core principle of architecture.” Corvez also noted certain predominant topics among the prize winning projects in North America: they often aimed to sustainably improve the quality of life of less affluent people, or to improve the connection between natural and built environments.


Gloria Lee & Nathan Swift receive the Building Better Recognition

From project to reality: Low-cost yet better schools in California

More than 200 projects have been awarded so far worldwide as we reach the fifth cycle of the LafargeHolcim Awards. The inaugural LafargeHolcim Building Better Recognition for North America was presented by Pascal Casanova, Member of the Executive Committee of LafargeHolcim and responsible for North America and Mexico, to Gloria Lee and Nathan Swift of SwiftLeeOffice in Pasadena, CA, USA. The architects designed a new school building prototype for the Los Angeles Unified School District to replace several inadequate temporary structures, winning the LafargeHolcim Awards Silver North America in 2011. Boasting excellent energy efficiency, the design has so far been implemented in three locations with great success.


Find out more about Gloria Lee and Nathan Swift's project

Gold: Comprehensive neighborhood planning in Detroit, USA

The winners of the Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards

With its large team, studio[Ci] in Detroit is tackling one of the city’s greatest challenges: creating a community based on collective empowerment that functions as sustainably as possible in a disadvantaged district of the city. The community-run infrastructure will include local energy and food production, water and waste management, while also empowering the residents. The jury praised the project for, “Taking the pocket vacancies normally characterized as the biggest problem in Detroit, the design turns them into an opportunity to create a compelling sustainable neighborhood.”

See all the winning projects on the LafargeHolcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction website 

LafargeHolcim Awards Gold, Silver and Bronze winning teams: Eric Mahoney, Haibin Tan, Constance Bodurow and Will Bright (Gold); Frano Violich, Shawna Meyer and Sheila Kennedy from Kennedy & Violich Architecture (Bronze); and Oliver Lang, Cynthia Wilson and James Ko from LWPAC + Intelligent City (Silver).

Winners of the LafargeHolcim Awards Gold 2017 (l-r): Haibin Tan, Constance Bodurow, Will Bright and Eric Mahoney for their project Bottom-up neighborhood planning in Detroit.

Winners of the LafargeHolcim Awards Silver 2017 (l-r): Cynthia Wilson, Oliver Lang and James Ko for a modular midrise housing project in Vancouver.

Members of the team from Kennedy & Violich Architecture (l-r): Mary White, Kristina Jones, Frano Violich, Shawna Meyer, Sheila Kennedy and Cathrin Summa. Their net-zero greenhouse for Wellesley College won the LafargeHolcim Awards Bronze 2017 for region North America.

Presentation of the LafargeHolcim Building Better Recognition (l-r): Pascal Casanova, Member of the Executive Committee of LafargeHolcim responsible for North America including Mexico with recipients Gloria Lee & Nathan Swift, SwiftLeeOffice, Los Angeles, USA.

Gloria Lee of SwiftLeeOffice (SLO), Los Angeles, introduces the work of SLO including the new school building prototype for the Los Angeles Unified School District to replace several inadequate temporary structures. The project won the LafargeHolcim Awards Silver North America in 2011 and the LafargeHolcim Building Better Recognition for standing the test of time as a particularly successful example of sustainable building.

Winning teams of the four Acknowledgement prizes (l-r): Anyeley Hallova, project^ and Thomas F. Robinson, LEVER Architecture; Stephen Luoni and Marty Matlock, University of Arkansas; Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee of Johnston Marklee & Associates; and Vivian Kuan and Mitchell Joachim of Terreform ONE.

Winners of the Next Generation prizes (l-r): Sarah Gunawan, School of Architcture and Planning, University at Buffalo, New York, USA (3rd); Georgina Baronian, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA (1st); Jason Heinrich, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada (2nd); Peteris Lazovskis, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA (4th).

Chicago-based artbeatlive Elliott From on stage at the LafargeHolcim Awards.

David Michael Maas and Dania Kasseva of “QuickChange” entertained the guests of the Awards ceremony with a series of elegant ballroom sequences combined with a progression of dramatically colourful costume changes.