The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

Every year, the American Institute of Architects invites its members—some 83,000 licensed architects—to enter the buildings they've designed in the past five years for an award. It's about as solid an award as an architect can receive, and this year's winners were just made public.

The projects range from museums to train stations to hotels; it's a diverse bunch, which you can peruse below. Keep in mind, these were chosen by a committee of working designers selected by the primary professional organization for architects in the U.S. Ot's fun to know what projects architects choose to honor from amongst their ranks.


SCAD Museum of Art; Savannah, Georgia by Sottile & Sottile and Lord Aeck Sargent in association with Dawson Architects

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

This museum occupies the last surviving antebellum railroad complex, in Savannah, which required Dawson Architects to completely transform a National Historic Landmark building without actually harming the landmark itself. All around the structure, particular pieces of crumbling history are highlighted with light or framed with glass. It's a really beautiful example of what some call "living preservation."


St. Louis Public Library, Central Library Transformation and Restoration; St. Louis by Cannon Design

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

Cass Gilbert—a pioneer who built many of America's earliest skyscrapers—isn't well known by many Americans these days, but he built some of the most beautiful buildings in the country. For example: St. Louis Public Library's Central Library, from 1912, which Cannon Design left intact by building its new structure inside of Gilbert's facade.


Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center; Brooklyn, New York by WEISS/MANFREDI.

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

Brooklyn's eternally amazing Botanic Garden got an upgrade with a LEED Gold Visitor Center that grows up out of the verge and into a sinuous, low-lying building.


Centre for International Governance and Innovation (CIGI) Campus; Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, by KPMB Architects

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

The architects of this Ontario campus describe it as a modern interpretation of Oxford's model: Organized around a central quad, the 3.9-acre site is supposed to act as a glowing, transparent hub—surrounded by 19th century industrial buildings.


New Boathouse for Community Rowing, Inc. (CRI); Boston by Anmahian Winton Architects

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

The organic cladding system on this complex in Boston—which houses the largest public rowing organization in the country—contains a system that helps to control daylight and ventilation.


Jackson Hole Airport; Jackson, Wyoming by Gensler

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

Gensler reconciled the reality of this project—that no piece of architecture will ever be as beautiful as Teton National Park, which sits right behind it—by building a simple timber terminal filled with beautiful and understated details, like queen-post trusses.


King Street Station; Seattle by ZGF Architects LLP

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

Seattle's King Street Station is one the oldest remaining in the country—it dates back to 1906, which means that ZGF was tasked with modernizing it and protecting it, too.


Lakewood Cemetery Garden Mausoleum; Minneapolis by HGA Architects and Engineers

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

Cemeteries and mausoleums are a tough order. These are places of grief, and striking the right pitch as a designer can be an elusive task. This Minneapolis complex, though, does a lovely job, keeping a simple material palette of stone, bronze, wood and glass to offset the oblique angles and sculptural flourishes inside.


The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust; Los Angeles by Belzberg Architects

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

The hillside that covers this subterranean holocaust museum acts like a kind of procession. "Entry to the building entails a gradual deterioration of this visual and auditory connection to the park while descending a long ramp," explain the jury. "Inside visitors experience a series of isolated spaces saturated with interactive archival content with diminishing natural light while descending further into the earth."


The Pierre; San Juan Island, Washington by Olson Kundig Architects

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

Olson Kundig—masters of material simplicity—sandwich this San Juan Island home between two slabs of concrete, hence its name, the Pierre (stone, in French).


Quaker Meeting House and Arts Center, Sidwell Friends School; Washington; D.C., by Kieran Timberlake

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

The 11 Best American-Designed Buildings of The YearS

Quaker meeting houses have been an unexpectedly fruitful place for architects and artists—check out James Turrell's, for example. This D.C. building was actually a 60-year-old gymnasium before it was transformed by Kieran Timberlake, who gave it a sculptural, deconstructed ceiling-scape that actually harkens back to Turrell's own skyspaces.