The Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) College of Architecture will award the fourth Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP) in 2022, MCHAP Director Dirk Denison announced this week. The prize’s global network of more than 140 anonymous expert nominators will begin to submit projects for consideration in September. Works of architecture, landscape architecture, urbanism, and infrastructure realized between January 2018 and June 2021 are eligible.
The announcement of the fourth prize cycle coincides with an event at the 17th Biennale Architettura in Venice, Italy, launching Barclay & Crousse: Landscapes of Intimacy, the 2018 MCHAP winner book, co-published with Mexico City–based Arquine. The publication features twelve projects by Barclay & Crousse, the Lima-based practice whose Edificio E, an educational building at Peru’s University of Piura, was awarded the 2018 Americas Prize.
Winner of MCHAP Cycle 3 (2018): Edificio E, Universidad de Piura by Barclay&Crousse. Piura, Peru, 2016. / Courtesy of MCHAP
Jean Pierre Crousse, co-founder of Barclay & Crousse, emphasized the significance of MCHAP to the firm’s thinking: “MCHAP has definitely been a turning point; it let us be fully aware of our practice’s meaning and our responsibility as MCHAP winners to push forward the boundaries of what we think and do,” he said. “The book Landscapes of Intimacyhas been the perfect occasion to develop these thoughts, structure the correlations between our projects, and associate them in the context of the Americas and the world. It is not a monograph; it is an attempt to clarify our engagement with important issues beyond our practice.”
From its home in IIT’s renowned College of Architecture, MCHAP grants two awards during each two-year cycle: the Americas Prize, given to the single built work that best represents architectural excellence, and the Prize for Emerging Practice, which recognizes a work by a firm in its first ten years of operation. In addition to opportunities to lecture and work with students at IIT, the architects of MCHAP-winning projects receive funding to support research and a publication. “The award itself is just the beginning. The book is the prize,” Denison explained.
Last fall, MCHAP launched Being the Mountain, a book developed by 2016 Emerging Prize winner PRODUCTORA that investigates architecture’s fundamental relationship to the ground. Publications by recent winners SANAA (Americas Prize 2016) and Rozana Montiel (Emerging Practice 2018) are currently in development. The prize also publishes MCHAP: The Americas, a series that explores relevant themes identified by the jury during each award cycle. The second volume in the series is edited by Florencia Rodriguez and will be launched at S. R. Crown Hall, the iconic Mies van der Rohe–designed home of MCHAP and the IIT College of Architecture, in November 2021.
The fourth-cycle Prize for Emerging Practice symposium and award ceremony will be held in spring 2022, while the Americas Prize symposium and award ceremony will take place in October 2022. Both events will bring nominated architects, their teams and clients, and students and faculty into conversation at S. R. Crown Hall. The international jury, whose members will be announced in the coming months, will also meet several times during the prize cycle, including to visit finalist projects in person. “To witness the impact of these works on the ground is an essential component of our evaluations,” Denison stated.
Winner of MCHAP.emerge Cycle 3 (2018): Common Unity by Rozana Montiel. Mexico City, Mexico, 2018 / Courtesy of MCHAP
Restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic forced a two-year suspension of the biennial prize, but created an opportunity to assess its impact and reaffirm its agenda: to learn from architectural excellence that enriches lives. For this cycle jury criteria have been refined, and include consideration of how projects integrate natural, built, and human ecologies; create safe and new public spaces; engage communities as agents of change; use local workforces and materials; improve life in challenged communities; and more. The prize’s territory, the thirty-five countries of the Americas, includes a range of diverse, dynamic conditions that architecture must engage today. “MCHAP reinforces a unique North–South axis that creates potential for urgently needed cross-cultural learning at a moment of global change and crisis,” Denison said.
“In addition to elevating the international discussion of architecture and environmental design, MCHAP initiatives create remarkable opportunities for IIT and our communities,” noted Reed Kroloff, IIT Dean Rowe Family College of Architecture Endowed Chair, “including teaching by exceptional designers; student financial aid and employment; research and publication; expanded networks for enrichment; and the administration and further development of resources to support the Prize and the College.” Kroloff continued, “MCHAP is a unique and remarkable opportunity for IIT to extend its IIT’s eight-decade legacy of helping define the forefront of modern architecture and design.”