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HGA Wins Three AIA Minnesota Honor Awards

HGA won three 2020 AIA Minnesota Honor Awards for projects that exemplify architectural excellence.

HGA projects that were awarded include Countryside Community Church in Omaha, Nebraska; St. Paul Academy and Summit School Upper School Addition and Renovation in St. Paul, Minnesota; and Westwood Hills Nature Center in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

Countryside Community Church

Countryside Community Church AIA Minnesota Honor Award

The Tri-Faith Initiative is made up of three Abrahamic faith groups who have chosen to establish a faith-based campus together. HGA led a robust visioning and conceptual planning process that built consensus and enthusiasm for the relocation of Countryside Community Church to the Tri-Faith Campus. By bringing together large groups of stakeholders with differing needs and aspirations for the space, we determined what each ministry needed to serve its’ mission.

The design team developed the layout and massing of the new church in a way that responds to the congregation’s worship practice. Beyond the worship spaces, the new building expands existing social, educational, and outreach programming, including a coffee shop, banquet hall, classrooms, and a community food shelf. Architecturally, the new facility is defined by simple rectangular volumes, clad in dark terracotta shingles, which have a hand crafted and individually unique profile and emphasis a horizontal and grounded-feel. This contrasts with the more sacred elements of the sanctuary, chapel, and bell tower, which are clad in metal panels and emphasize vertical lines, thinness, and lightness.

Lauded in the categories of Design for Integration; Design for Equitable Communities; and Design for Well-being. The jury noted the church’s synergy of vision, program, and artistry, and its overall feeling of inclusivity, accessibility, and beauty, and embodiment of the spirit of worship.

St. Paul Academy and Summit School

Summit School Upper School Addition and Renovation exterior 2

St. Paul Academy and Summit School (SPA), an independent school known for innovative and dynamic curriculum designed around the Harkness method, educates 750 middle and upper school students. The Upper School redesign unites five decades of buildings into one expression of common and resonant identity in dialogue with the neighborhood.

Sited on a commercial avenue surrounded by a long-established residential fabric, the school maintains a sensitive relationship with its neighborhood. The humanities wing is a 38,000-square-foot renovation of  both the 1970 Benjamin Thompson building and the original 1916 schoolhouse. All 20 classrooms are designed around the Harkness table (an oval seminar table, originating at Phillips Exeter Academy in 1930), small-group work, and technology. Each subject within the renovated areas incorporates a suite of academic commons for student collaboration and studying, small study rooms, and faculty offices. Spatially, the renovation restores and represents the original elegance and rigor of the waffle slab construction.

Lauded in the categories of Design for Integration and Design for Change. The jury felt this project represents a successful response to a difficult design challenge of designing within the context of buildings of different historical eras. The result is a timeless yet modern, well-scaled design complex.

Westwood Hills Nature Center

Westwood Hills Nature Center exterior 1

Westwood Hills Nature Center is a 160-acre nature park featuring prairie, forest and marsh areas, with trails and an educational center. St. Louis Park sought to replace their small, aging facility with a new building whose overarching purpose and vision is connecting people to nature.

HGA’s site design expands an existing prairie, creates an outdoor classroom space on the site of the old building, and provides expanded parking for visitors to the new facility. The building forms an experiential and informational threshold to the site. Together, the architectural and site design reinforce visitors’ connection to their landscape.

Part of a City effort towards a sustainable future, the nature center serves as an exemplar for sustainability strategies. Targeting Zero Energy certification, HGA’s design provides a high-performance building envelope, form and layout to take advantage of solar and wind angles on site. Energy use is offset by rooftop solar photovoltaic panels. These and other sustainable features are expressed in the design to serve as a teaching tool for visitors.

Lauded in the categories of Design for Integration, Design for Equitable Communities, Design for Ecosystems, Design for Water, Design for Energy, Design for Resources, Design for Discovery, and Design for Change. The jury was impressed by this Zero Energy nature center, which they felt was well aligned with its goal of the building being a teaching tool itself, and recognized it as a great model for nature centers in the future.

About the Awards

New in 2020, the AIA Minnesota Honor Awards submissions were evaluated according to the AIA Framework for Design Excellence, in alignment with AIA National Architecture Awards. Achievement within the Framework for Design Excellence requires a holistic approach to design, addressing the interdependence among people, buildings, infrastructure, and the environment. The Framework focuses on 10 categories: Design for Integration, Design for Equitable Communities, Design for Ecosystems, Design for Water, Design for Economy, Design for Energy, Design for Well-being, Design for Resources, Design for Change, and Design for Discovery.

Fifty-nine projects were submitted in 2020 and were evaluated by three internationally renowned architects: Andrea Love, AIA, Payette, Boston; Patricia Rhee, FAIA, EYRC, Los Angeles; and Barry Alan Yoakum, FAIA, Archimania, Memphis.

For more information, visit AIA Minnesota.