Undoubtedly, we associate cities with their iconic structures: New York City’s Empire State Building, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, to name a few. But these edifices — so forward-thinking for their time that we’re still in awe of them today — are at least half a century old, making it seem like the era of erecting statement-making civic structures has passed.
Proving that designers are still as innovative as ever, however, are this year’s recipients of the prestigious Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The winners, which will be formally recognized at AIA’s National Convention in Atlanta this May, are diverse “in scale, expense, concept, use, in virtually every aspect,” says Waller McGuire, executive director of St. Louis Public Library and the only non-architect on AIA’s nine-member jury. “The strongest connection between the award winners is that we looked for architecture that respects and elevates the people using it: the people who will ultimately judge it for themselves.”
With that in mind, here’s a selection of five outstanding buildings, all of whose architects paid particular attention to their social responsibilities, impact and energy usage.