The Fifth-Annual Smart Environments Awards

This year’s winners expand the definition of sustainable design to include human health and well-being.

When we introduced the Metropolis/IIDA Smart Environments Awards five years ago, we hoped to document and celebrate milestones in a rapidly evolving profession. Back then, everyone was talking about achieving high LEED ratings. That’s still a crucial metric in measuring building performance, but in just a few short years, the conversation has refocused on human health and well-being as important components of environmental stewardship.

As these three winning projects show, there’s a growing concern for what used to be called “user experience” and what we now think of as “people.” And people—not just the clients who hired the designers and paid the bills—are at the center of the two workplaces and one library on these pages.

When everyone is wired, offices become less rigid. And as it turns out, switching to mobile work spaces with laptops—as the bankers at Macquarie, in Sydney, are doing—is good not only for job satisfaction but for the environment too. Even the workforce of a formerly regimented public agency, the Port of Portland, now occupies a building that reminds them, at every turn, of nature’s own efficiencies.

It’s no secret that healthy and humane environments can bring together a whole community, as the new public library in Roseville, Minnesota, does. Here, the designers’ recognition that people of all ages and stages in their lives need to connect to sunlight is in glorious evidence everywhere. And all that natural light yields impressive energy savings. Our judges—Peter Conant, of Conant Architects; Dianne Juba, of the General Services Administration; and Stacy Reed, of the facilities, planning, and construction office at the University of Texas—are excited to share these teachable moments with their peers.

Clive Wilkinson Architects

Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle

ZGF Architecture

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