MSR Design received both the Honor Awards given out by AIA Minnesota this year: for the renovation and expansion to L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and RIDC’s Mill 19 adaptive reuse project in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The state’s most prestigious recognition for buildings designed by Minnesota architects, the Honor Awards celebrate projects that demonstrate excellence in two or more of the 10 AIA Framework for Design Excellence measures, which include Design for Integration, Equitable Communities, Ecology, Water, Economy, Energy, Well-Being, Resources, Change, and Discovery. The jury of national architects, which evaluated 40 submissions, included Natasha Espada, AIA, NOMA, with Studio Enée; Adrianna Swindle, AIA, with Lake|Flato; and JoAnn Hindmarsh Wilcox, AIA, with Mithun.
A 1970s library located in downtown Eau Claire, Wisconsin, L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library had a tight column grid, low floor-to-floor heights, few windows, and limited room for growth. The transformation features new windows that showcase activity happening inside the library and skylights that bring daylight deep into the center of the building. The roof level addition features large spaces for community events and a terrace with expansive views. A new public plaza improves the connection between the library and downtown. According to the jury, “The modernizing of this building was an exercise in craft and restraint. The architects used the relatively small addition to create a more proportioned, beautifully detailed exterior and sculpt light in the interiors. The welcoming indoor and outdoor spaces for learning, reading, cooking, making, and exploring are in daily conversation about what a library can be for a community.”
Winner of a national AIA COTE Top Ten Award and a Metropolis Planet Positive Best Adaptive Reuse Innovation Award, Mill 19 involved repurposing the steel skeleton of an abandoned steel rolling mill as an outer shell for new high-tech office, lab, and advanced manufacturing facilities. Tenants and visitors navigate this atmospheric mix of new and old via a network of new plazas, elevated walkways, balconies, and gardens. The project also features the largest single-sloped glass solar array in the U.S. According to the jury, “The architects did an amazing job thinking about sustainability and human experience in leveraging the assets that were there. This project makes a powerful statement about reuse. It says, ‘We don’t have to take it all for what it is. We don’t have to take it all apart. But we get to use that carbon. We get to think about the frame differently when we think about reuse.’”