ACSA (Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture) just announced the 2017-2018 Architectural Education Award Winners. Each year, ACSA honors architectural educators for exemplary work in areas such as building design, community collaborations, scholarship, and service. Award winners inspire and challenge students, contribute to the profession’s knowledge base, and extend their work beyond the borders of academy into practice and the public sector. 

This year, UVA’s Luis Pancorbo and Ines Martin, both faculty at the School of Architecture, were awarded the Faculty Design Award for their building, the Vegas Altas Congress Center. 

Pancorbo and Martin describe the building as:

The "Vegas Altas" Congress and Exhibition Center grows in an ambiguous peripheral location, in a land that is both urban and agricultural. The architectural proposal is intended to highlight this timeless condition of building belonging to the land through the design of a freestanding building, floating in the countryside like a giant bale of straw with a flat horizon. On the one hand, it is a building that hides its status growing underground. The program is organized as a half-buried ring that adapts to the terrain and to the boundaries of the plot, but hides its condition to visitors. A cubic volume rises categorically from the ground boldly, but maintains only the volumetric scale appropriate for the required visibility and representability.

Thus, the design reinforces its urban character, iconic, with a platonic geometry of a perfect cube, but in turn loses its built character, as it is a field sown of strips of vegetation. Its surface is ripped with skylights that illuminate the underground spaces. The building provides ample public space to the town with a green cover over most of the program and a sloped ground serving to create a means of access to the building and to perform as an outdoor auditorium. One the one hand, it is introverted, hidden and neutral in its earthy materiality, offering a garden that is the main facade. At the same time, it is outgoing, as it seeks to be seen wrapped in a woven web of ropes. The use of naval ropes for the façade shading is at the same time a technological transference and a feature that is deeply connected with the local culture and environment.”

Congratulations to Luis and Ines for this outstanding honor in recognition of design excellence!