The AIA Honor Awards are the highest honor given by the American Institute of Architecture who sets the standard for design and innovative in the industry. Three categories are recognized for the awards: architecture, interior architecture, and urban design. This year, over 500 submissions were received by AIA and a panel of nine architects were tasked with selecting the most impressive projects. Surprisingly, a sizable portion of the 16 selected projects were public works. The AIA Honor Awards typically recognizes private interest structures, but this year we’re noticing a revival of great civic architecture.

Photo by Financial Times

Chicago Riverwalk
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Architect: Ross Barney Architects and Sasaki

To revitalize the waterfront, this project has turned downtown Chicago into a continuous, car-free walking environment that includes restaurants with outdoor seating, kayak rentals, tons of greenery, and a water feature for children and families.

Photo by Mike Kelley

Spring Street Salt Shed
Location: New York, New York
Architect: Dattner Architects

Perhaps one of the most surprising of civic facilities to be on the list of AIA Honor Awards, the Department of Sanitation’s new building, Spring Street Salt Shed, is a stunning structure. The building rises nearly 70 feet along the Hudson River and houses 5,000 tons of salt.

Photo by Architizer

Mercer Island Fire Station 92
Location: Mercer Island, Washington
Architect: Miller Hull

Mercer Island Fire Station 92 replaces a small volunteer station that was originally built in 1962 just outside of Seattle. Years of seismic activity and poor maintenance made the station unsafe. An open space concept strengthened the fire station and created a positive connection with the community.


Photo by Hunter Kerhart

New United States Courthouse, Los Angeles
Location: Los Angeles, California
Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM)

The 10-story, 633,000 square foot building holds 24 courtrooms and 32 judicial chambers. The structure is described as modern in spirit yet rooted in classic principles of federal architecture.

U District Station
Location: Seattle, Washington
Architect: LMN Architects

Once a problematic intersection for the University of Washington, the new light rail station offers a unique opening to the campus.

Read more about the Renaissance of Great Public Architecture here

View all AIA Honor Award Submissions here