The Mies Crown Hall Americas prize finalists for 2018 are announced

The SESC 24 de Maio designed by Paulo Mendes da Rocha and MMBB Arquitetos
The SESC 24 de Maio designed by Paulo Mendes da Rocha and MMBB Arquitetos in São Paulo, Brazil, has been selected as a finalist for the 2018 prize
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The Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize for 2018 has announced its finalists including the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC by Freelon Adjaye Bond/Smith Group; Andrade Morettin Arquitetos Associados's cultural hub IMS Paulista in São Paulo; Barclay & Crousse Architecture's ‘Edificio E' education building for the University of Piura in Peru; Paulo Mendes da Rocha and MMBB Arquitetos' leisure and medical building, SESC 24 de Maio, in São Paulo; Productora and Isaac Broid's Teopanzolco Cultural Center in Cuernavaca, Mexico; and Edwin Chan/EC3's affordable residential project True North in Detroit.

The biennial prize recognises the best built works of architecture in the Americas, including North and South America, and was conceived by Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture in 2013. 

The 2018 finalists were selected from over 175 projects nominated by a network of experts working across the geographical field. This year's jury, who toured each of the sites, interviewing the architects and clients, included Ricky Burdett CBE, chair, Jose Castillo, Ron Henderson, Rodrigo Pérez de Arce and Claire Weisz. A driving point of the jury's conversation was a debate surrounding what ‘quality’ means in architecture in the Americas today.

SESC 24 de Maio Paulo Mendes da Rocha and MMBB Arquitetos


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Interior walkways at SESC 24 de Maio designed by Paulo Mendes da Rocha and MMBB Arquitetos in São Paulo, Brazil

The judges were looking for projects that had potential for lasting influence across architecture and culture, pioneered the development of architecture as a practice, reshaped how we experience the built envrionment and participated in a wider cultural exchange.
 
‘We were not looking for architectural pyrotechnics. We were not interested in one-off iconic objects that could soon go out of fashion. We were not looking for technical ingenuity, however brilliant and ground-breaking. We were interested in buildings that work – for the city, for the institution, for the neighbourhood, community, and the individual occupants. Buildings that have meaning and complexity, and enrich the lives of the people who use and inhabit them,’ said Burdett.

IMS Paulista Andrade Morettin Arquitetos Associados São Paulo, Brazil

The IMS Paulista designed by Andrade Morettin Arquitetos Associados in São Paulo, Brazil

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Burdett described how the projects each communicate the social and environmental challenges of today with ‘confidence, imagination, and modesty’ – this saw a shared architectural language across the finalists that expressed a similar concern with space as architects working in the mid-20th century. An interest in natural daylight, function prioritised over ‘symbolic facadism' and an honesty of material use including durable choices such as concrete were all flagged: ‘...many of the projects explored the spatial potential of economy of means with maximum impact,’ he said.

The winner of the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize 2018 will be announced on 10 October.

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture designed by Freelon Adjaye Bond / Smith Group in Washington, DC is a new site of pilgrimage for the African American culture

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The SESC 24 de Maio

The SESC 24 de Maio designed by Paulo Mendes da Rocha and MMBB Arquitetos in São Paulo, Brazil is shoehorned into a tight site at the heart of São Paulo’s dense but fragile historic center

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The SESC 24 de Maio

The SESC 24 de Maio offers leisure, sports, and medical facilities, including a rooftop swimming pool, to members of its progressive trade association, all connected by a generous 11-story ramp open to all

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The IMS Paulista is located on São Paulo’s Paulista Avenue

The IMS Paulista is located on São Paulo’s Paulista Avenue and brings the public and pedestrian experience into its form

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The IMS Paulista designed by Andrade Morettin Arquitetos Associados in São Paulo

The IMS Paulista designed by Andrade Morettin Arquitetos Associados in São Paulo, Brazil, is a multi-level, stacked cultural building with galleries, library, and cinema

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The Teopanzolco Cultural Center designed by Productora and Isaac Broid in Cuernavaca

The Teopanzolco Cultural Center designed by Productora and Isaac Broid in Cuernavaca, Mexico, encloses a 800 seat auditorium and performance spaces, offering views of the historic site and city beyond

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The Teopanzolco Cultural Center

The Teopanzolco Cultural Center is adjacent to a Pre-Hispanic pyramid which influenced its sloping roofs and sandy colouring

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Aularioudep

The Edificio E at the University of Piura designed by Barclay & Crousse Architecture in Piura, Peru is set within a dry savannah landscape in the north of Peru

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Edificio E

The Edificio E university building creates a compact and complex network of interconnected classrooms, offices, and open spaces specifically designed to accommodate students from disadvantaged backgrounds

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True North Detroit designed by Edwin Chan / EC3

True North in Detroit designed by Edwin Chan / EC3 shows an innovative use of industrial Quonset corrugated galvanized steel structures to creates a sequence of dynamic external and internal spaces

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True North Detroit

True North provides affordable accommodation to a new generation of urban pioneers in Detroit’s fragile inner-city communities

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INFORMATION

For more information, visit the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize website (opens in new tab)

Harriet Thorpe is a writer, journalist and editor covering architecture, design and culture, with particular interest in sustainability, 20th-century architecture and community. After studying History of Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Journalism at City University in London, she developed her interest in architecture working at Wallpaper* magazine and today contributes to Wallpaper*, The World of Interiors and Icon magazine, amongst other titles. She is author of The Sustainable City (2022, Hoxton Mini Press), a book about sustainable architecture in London, and the Modern Cambridge Map (2023, Blue Crow Media), a map of 20th-century architecture in Cambridge, the city where she grew up.