Mission and Vision

The Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize at the Illinois Institute of Technology, founded in 2012 in Chicago, is a biennial award recognizing excellence in built works of architecture in the Americas.

MCHAP defines excellence in a holistic sense: it evaluates how works of architecture integrate natural, built, and human ecologies to enhance the quality of the places where we live. Grounded by an awareness of the present, MCHAP optimistically points to the future.

The works MCHAP celebrates inspire, educate, and challenge their users, the international design community, and the wider public. With sensitivity and intelligence, these projects achieve a formal, material, social, and environmental synergy. They realize opportunities for architecture— understood through both what architecture is, as a physical structure, and what it does, in the experiences and connections it creates.

Beyond simply identifying these works, MCHAP actively shares and draws on their stories.

The prize is a platform bringing nominators, jury members, students, faculty, practitioners, and clients into an essential dialogue about what architecture makes possible. The result is a rich array of outputs: engaging events and symposia, inventive studios and workshops, and sophisticated, globally recognized publications.

MCHAP shapes conversations on three scales:

Internationally, MCHAP diffuses a wealth of evidence of the ingenuity and dynamism defining architecture in the Americas today. It links North and South, forging a new constituency recognized for both its diversity and the influences it shares across borders. It sets agendas for architectural decision makers worldwide, creating a dynamic vector of global cultural diplomacy.

In Chicago, MCHAP actively continues the city’s living legacy of modernism—an entrepreneurial and egalitarian spirit, a proactive civic commitment, an emphasis on cutting-edge architectural creativity and the highest standards of design. It continues the example of S. R. Crown Hall on Mies’s historic IIT campus, the prize’s home base.

Within the College of Architecture, MCHAP directly enriches the student experience, providing opportunities for students and faculty to collaborate with a worldwide network of established and emerging prizewinners. It solidifies the College’s position as a central site of developing architectural knowledge and advances new, collaborative, and complementary models of architectural education.

The prize is only the beginning. MCHAP’s goal is to lay groundwork for these conversations to continue growing on their own, contributing to a greater understanding of how architecture impacts the vibrant, complex world around us.

How buildings can impact our lives:

Architectural prizes are generally awarded to those that achieve design excellence. The Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize defines excellence more widely, through design’s essential connections to the communities and ecologies of our changing world. 

 

We live in a revolutionary age, one full of risks and opportunities. As massive urban migration is no longer a new phenomenon, we can now begin to understand its effects on housing, infrastructure, and our ways of life. Our communication systems move at ever-greater speeds while local economies are merging intercontinentally into a vast commercial network. Our living habits are undergoing generational shifts and rapid cultural change. The world today has been radically reconstituted from that of even a quarter century ago. We must reexamine our assumptions in so many realms, including and especially design. MCHAP is convinced that powerful works of architecture can help us grasp and respond to these dynamic shifts, pushing the practice forward while visibly improving inhabitants’ quality of life. 

 

Since the prize was founded in 2012, MCHAP’s global network of nominators has identified more than 900 projects demonstrating contemporary architecture’s potential:

Impact

In an age of increasing environmental anxiety, MCHAP projects propose new experiences of the natural world that go beyond buzzwords or simple technological checklists. Edificio E by Barclay & Crousse Architecture is a porous, climactically sensitive educational building in Peru’s dry savannah whose shaded, semi-exterior path- ways promote student interaction and energize life on the campus.

Safe and New Public Spaces

MCHAP projects directly address how architectural design can make spaces that are permeable, democratic, and meaningful. Common Unity by Rozana Montiel rehabilitates socially deprived public space in Mexico City as an urban intervention. Giving the space in between apartments character, missing qualities of personal space and senses of safety were reinstituted after decades without it.

Communities as Agents of Change

Many MCHAP nominated projects highlight the importance of adaptive reuse in urban settings as methods of transformations to the identities of neighborhoods it affects. As an urban intervention taken place in the form of adaptive reuse of existing rail tracks, The High Line by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and James Corner Field Operations has become an attraction as it elevates user perspectives on the neighborhood to new levels.

Power of a Vision

Distinct among prizes, MCHAP recognizes the vital contributions of clients, whose vision and on-the-ground commitment are key synergetic elements in creating an exceptional work of architecture. True North by Edwin Chan is the result of close collaborations between the ambitions of the architect and client to produce a successful project.

Inclusive Housing Typologies

Many MCHAP projects directly address how innovative solutions to unique site constraints prove to be successful projects of urban dwelling. Oz Condominiums by 5468796 Architecture looks toward creative and efficient methods to provide solutions to issues of cost, liveable space, and site regulations.

Creation of New Neighborhoods

The crucial senses of community, inclusion, and collaboration is recognized within many MCHAP projects. UTEC Campus by Grafton Architects utilizes circulation as a landscape across a vertical campus to create connections and establish an inclusive and collaborative student/professor community.

Use of Local Workforce and Materials

Forms of sustainability is present across many projects as MCHAP identifies and celebrates the tendencies of architectural design across the Americas. Sourcing from local talents and materials, María Montessori School Mazátlan by EPArquitectos + Edtudio Macías Peredo demonstrates design that incorporates the context of the site and talents of local inhabitants.

Sustainable Tourism

MCHAP projects host examples of malleability within the building as it responds to the natural conditions of the site hosting it. Extending beyond a shelter for its inhabitants, the Punta Caliza Holbox Hotel by Estudio Macías Peredo utilizes the natural environment to activate publicly accessible courtyards which also extends into the private spaces.

Infrastructure and New Mobility

In exploring various building typologies MCHAP projects forms new circulations through the creation of new infrastructures in its projects. 1111 Lincoln Road by Herzog & de Meuron creates a dynamic infrastructure that is malleable to programs while enforcing circulation throughout the building by way of panoramic, ceremonial experiences for the human and the automobile.

Improving Challenged Communities

Buildings that directly address challenges within the context of the communities they reside in are often questions that MCHAP nominated projects look to answer. Star Apartments by Michael Maltzan, FAIA responds to its context by way of creating permanent supportive housing to Los Angeles’ homeless populations, serving as a recovery process for its inhabitants.