The most important, and telling, stipulation in the entry form for the Progressive Architecture Awards is that “all projects must be real.” In other words, every submission must have a client who has land, a budget, and intent to build. These days, bona fide clients may seem hard to come by, but we haven’t softened the rules about rewarding real projects, and the quality of submissions hasn’t suffered one bit.

One thing about the P/A Awards that always changes is the working definition of “progressive.” It is up to the jury—which this year comprised Ann Beha, FAIA, Brad Lynch, Mary-Ann Ray, Joseph Rosa, and Cathy Simon, FAIA (see their bios below)—to determine what the term means for architecture at a given moment in time.

Lynch noted his interest in projects “that are creating progress in areas that we haven’t seen before.” Rosa was attracted to “acts of invention, not perfection.” And for Simon, the P/A Awards have a “voice about what design means right now.”

In the end, the jury awarded 10 projects that resolve incredibly diverse programs through incredibly inventive solutions. Be it a house on piers in the middle of a bird sanctuary, or a six-level YMCA that masquerades as a two-story building, this year’s winners tread lightly on the landscape and exemplify what architects do best: They find innovative, and even progressive, approaches to solving real-world problems. And for that, they are to be celebrated.


The Jury

Credit: Eli Kaplan

Brad Lynch
Brininstool + Lynch, Chicago
A principal at Chicago-based Brininstool + Lynch (with partner David Brininstool, AIA), Brad Lynch attended the University of Wisconsin for art, engineering, and landscape architecture. Lynch won the honorable mention for the 1995 Burnham Prize for architecture, and is a past program facilitator at Archeworks in Chicago.

Ann Beha, FAIA
Ann Beha Architects, Boston
The founder and president of Ann Beha Architects in Boston, Ann Beha holds a degree from Wellesley College, an M.Arch. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was a Loeb Fellow at the Harvard Univesity Graduate School of Design. Recent projects include the restoration and expansion of the Cambridge Public Library in Cambridge, Mass. (with William Rawn Associates), and a new Music Building at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Cathy Simon, FAIA
Perkins+Will, San Francisco
A design principal based in the San Francisco office of Perkins+Will, Cathy Simon’s work has focused on urbanization and adaptive reuse, such as the conversion of the San Francisco Ferry Building from a disused transit hub to a marketplace for local food purveyors. Simon was a founding partner of the San Francisco–based, female-owned firm SMWM, which merged with Perkins+Will in 2008.

Joseph Rosa
University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Before joining the University of Michigan Museum of Art as director in 2010, Joseph Rosa served as the John H. Bryan Curatorial Chair of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago. Rosa has curated more than 30 exhibitions on contemporary architecture and design, and written 14 books. Rosa has a B.Arch. from the Pratt Institute, and an M.S. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

Mary-Ann Ray
Studio Works, Los Angeles
A principal at Studio Works in Los Angeles, Mary-Ann Ray has an M.Arch. from Princeton University, and was a recipient of the 1987–88 Rome Prize. Ray lectures extensively and leads design studios at the Southern California Institute of Architecture. In 2002, Ray and her partner Robert Mangurian won the Chrysler Design Award for Innovation and Excellence.