Awards and the prestige they convey have been a part of our culture for almost as long as we’ve been creating art, whether it’s painting, literature, music, film, or architecture. The competition and recognition that follow honor the creators, increase the cultural capital of the work, and expand awareness of premiated work.

The American Institute of Architects  Academy of Architecture for Health (AIA-AAH) introduced its Design Awards in 2009 to showcase the “best of the best” in healthcare building design, planning, and research and to recognize and raise awareness of outstanding projects. The awards cover multiple categories, including new construction, renovations, and unbuilt projects as well as planning and design research and master/planning urban design. Innovation and design excellence determine the winners; project budget is not a limiting factor in reviewing the submissions, nor is program, size, or location.

The 2017 AIA/AAH Awards jury included Gregory Wieland, AIA, Altus Studios; Tama Duffy Day, Gensler; Rick del Monte, FAIA, BeckGroup; Robin Guenther, FAIA, Perkins+Will; John Kouletsis, AIA, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc.; Joan L. Suchomel, AIA, Cannon Design (with Eckenhoff Saunders Architects at the time of jury review), and Stephen Yablon, AIA, Stephen Yablon Architecture. In evaluating the submissions, the jury looked at each project for its conceptual strength, asking questions such as, “How does the project solve the aesthetic, civic, urban, and social concerns?” and “How well does it meet the functional and sustainability requirements of the healthcare facility?”

The projects receiving recognition this year illustrate innovative solutions to healthcare’s functional and clinical needs, such as an overarching commitment to sustainability, integration with the landscape, creating a connection to the community, and demonstrating empathy for its occupants.

This 2017 award recipients include (see images in the slide show above):

Category A: Built, less than $25 million in construction cost

  • Harvey Pediatric Clinic (Rogers, Ark.); Architect: Marlon Blackwell Architects
  • Neighborcare Health, Meridian Center for Health (Seattle); Architect: NBBJ

Category B: Built, over than $25 million in construction cost

  • Mercy Virtual Care Center (Chesterfield, Mo.); Architect: Forum Studio
  • UC San Diego Jacobs Medical Center (La Jolla, Calif.); Architect: CannonDesign

Category C: Renovations/Remodeled: Primarily built within existing hospital or clinical space

  • Advocate Lutheran General Hospital Cardiac Catheterization Suite (Park Ridge, Ill.); Architect: Philips Design and Anderson Mikos Architects
  • Bayshore Dental (Whitefish Bay, Wis.); Architect: Johnsen Schmaling Architects

Category D: Unbuilt: must be commissioned for compensation by a client with the authority and intention to build

  • Ambulatory Surgical Facility (Kyabirwa, Uganda); Architect: Kliment Halsband Architects

In honoring healthcare design for its beauty and function, the design awards celebrate the transformative power the built environment has on our health. These winners—high caliber projects created by teams of committed individuals who believe that design can have a positive impact on society— show us all how we, too, can make a difference with our work.

Tushar Gupta, AIA, NCARB, is a principal and lead designer at EYP Health. He is an AIA-AAH board member and chaired the design awards committee in 2015-2016.