Check out out some past winners from the Americas region below – take inspiration and see what it takes to be a WAN Awards winner

Woodland Wonders Preschool

(Future Projects – Education, Gold, 2022)

The Story: 

“A charming proposal that puts nature on display inside and out. Alternating between enclosed and outdoor terraces helps integrate the project into its surroundings,” Marcus Carter Judge.

Light-filled classrooms alternate with an administrative area and a series of open and covered porches that extend out into the natural woodlands beyond. Constructed from timber harvested on-site, the preschool is a “building as a teaching tool” that demonstrates and celebrates the potential of wood as a sustainable, low embodied carbon solution critical to addressing today’s climate crisis. Exposed natural wood ceilings, walls, floors, doors, windows and open decks make sustainable forestry a tangible part of the school experience. 

Design highlights:

A series of butterfly roof structures provide shading, while generous glazing and windows allow for ample daylight and natural ventilation to increase sustainable, lower energy operation of the building. 

Biophilic design principles reinforce the connection to nature, with exposed local yellow pine throughout, direct outdoor views in all spaces and use of nature motifs and details like butterfly door handles. Consistent with the mission of the Kreher Nature Preserve, healthy trees are saved and incorporated into the design.

Photograph credits: 

Leers Weinzapfel Associates

The Minneapolis Public Service building

(Civic - Institutions and community spaces, Gold, 2022)

Main story:

“A masterful and successful building that combines a fresh contemporary approach within a historic setting,” Heinz Richardson, Judge.

This civic hall in Minneapolis, Minnesota, allows citizens to apply for permits, pay bills and meet with city officials in a welcoming and user-friendly one-stop shop. Public facing functions are condensed on the first two floors with department offices on the upper eight floors. A large feature stair in the entrance lobby provides an inviting public space while the office floors contain workspaces flooded with natural daylight, improved indoor air quality, and a top-floor conference space, café and terrace. Six double-height collaboration zones, clad in wood and each with a unique view out to the city, provide opportunities for social interaction and collaborative work.

Design highlights:

The double height lobby is clad in warm limestone and wood panelling with a white terrazzo floor. Piece de resistance? The Great Seal of Minneapolis which has been restored after 30 years in storage and is now mounted on the two-storey lobby wall.

The soaring glass and aluminium façade captures and exaggerates changing light throughout the day. As clouds pass on sunny days, the building shimmers like the surface of a lake. At night, lit from the inside and set into the darkness of the plaza, it glows like a jewel box.

Photo credits:

Photographer: Corey Gaffer – Gaffer Photograph

The 9th Avenue Parkade + Innovation Centre

(Transport, Gold, 2022)

“A truly innovative and future aware solution to a parking structure that incorporates other uses and envisages transformation into many others,” Bob Fry, Judge.

The city of Calgary wanted to ensure that in the future the building could be easily converted in to an office, light industrial or residential building. As a result, ceiling heights are one and a half times higher than a traditional multi-storey, while a central atrium allows natural light to flood throughout the building. Currently home to over 500 parking spaces located over seven storeys, plus a two-floor innovation centre, it also features a basketball court, café and exhibition space on the ground floor.

Design highlights: 

The design team overcame the challenge of an underground light rail tunnel which bisects the site and creates an unbuildable zone down the centre of the site, by building in the form of an elliptical helix which spans the undevelopable area, thus recapturing much of the lost land value. Spherical bollards, coloured concrete patterns on the floor, and a traffic mirror ceiling make for a lively and vibrant central courtyard.

Photo credits: 

hero image - RedPoint Media, all other photographs - James Brittain, diagrams, renderings, drawings - 5468796 Architecture