ARD building among ‘world’s best’

Northern Arizona University’s Applied Research and Development building is the only building in the United States to receive an esteemed international award last week for its architectural design.

The university’s LEED Platinum-rated, environmentally friendly research facility is among 15 designs by international architects to receive the Royal Institute of British Architects’2009 International Award, which recognizes the work done by its members around the world.

The list of award winners also includes the “Bird’s Nest” and two other Beijing Olympics buildings, the Saxo Bank building in Copenhagen and the British High Commission in Sri Lanka. The ARD building was designed by the British firm of Hopkins Architects, in collaboration with Burns Wald-Hopkins Shambach Architects of Arizona.

Judges felt the architects’ ability to “reshape their designs to take on board the need for more sustainable construction and lower energy consumption” was impressive.

“The building uses 90 percent less energy than its equivalent counterparts on U.S. university campuses,” writes Tony Chapman, head of the awards. “One-third of the construction materials were recycled from elsewhere. Yes, it is located in Arizona, and the building relies on an adjacent field of photovoltaics and a huge solar hot water collector, but that only begs the question of why no American architects designing in similar locations had previously picked up on these natural advantages.”

Chapman added that the building “might be claimed as perhaps the most environmentally efficient building to-date” in the United States.

The judges praised the project’s designers, calling the facility “typical of the work of Hopkins Architects for incredibly well thought out and crafted modern design. This exemplar of sustainable design shows that remarkable environmental savings can be made without hysterical formal manipulation or self-congratulatory eco-posturing.”

The 15 buildings to receive the institute’s International Award were narrowed to a short list of six schemes last week for consideration for the prestigious Lubetkin Prize, awarded for the best international building by an institute member for architecture. The Lubetkin Prize winner will be announced July 14 in London.

The full list of 15 RIBA International Award winners, from which the Lubetkin Prize short list was selected, is available online.