Sarah Dunn and Martin Felsen, AIA, co-principals of Chicago-based architecture firm UrbanLab, have been awarded The American Institute of Architects College of Fellows' 2009 Latrobe Prize for their proposal "Growing Energy/Water: Using the grid to get off the grid," earning a cash prize of $100,000.

The Latrobe Prize, centered this year on the theme "Change That Matters," is awarded biennially for innovative research leading to significant advances in the architecture profession.

"Growing Energy/Water" focuses on a prototypical infrastructural corridor in Chicago that requires substantial improvements to showcase design solutions and develop analytical and predictive tools for greening local energy and natural resource grids. UrbanLab's research team comprises a multifaceted group of professionals, including architects, clean-energy engineers, renewable energy contractors, an environmental engineer, an evolutionary ecologist, a landscape architect, an interdisciplinary group of students, and city of Chicago officials.

"The College is extremely excited about Felsen and Dunn's proposal and its potential to lead to new building types that incorporate existing natural resources," said AIA College of Fellows vice chancellor Ed Kodet, FAIA, in an announcement of the award. "Additionally, the research further provides the foundation to enhance architecture through a better understanding of the urban grid and the energy and water that sustain our largest cities."

The firm's research project proposes building a predictive metric model that will provide policy and decision makers with the data necessary to invest in and transform the public way infrastructure grid into a financially, ecologically, and culturally beneficial system.