Kaplan Institute Wins National AIA Architecture Award

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By Andrew Connor

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The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has recognized the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship with a National Architecture Award. It is one of only eight buildings from across the world, and only one of three buildings in the United States, to be bestowed with the honor for 2020.

The building, which is home to the university’s Institute of Design and Interprofessional Projects (IPRO) Program, was the first academic facility built on Illinois Institute of Technology’s historic Mies Campus in more than 40 years. 

Designed by John Ronan FAIA, the John and Jeanne Rowe Endowed Professor in Architecture at the College of Architecture, the building has become notable within the architecture world for its dynamic façade of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene foil, a cladding material approximately 1 percent of the weight of glass, which moderates the amount of solar energy that enters the building through sophisticated pneumatics.  

“I’m honored to have contributed a chapter to Illinois Tech’s story and to add to its enduring legacy in American architecture with this new building, and treasure my collaboration with Illinois Tech leadership as they seek to define the future of higher education,” says Ronan.

Ronan’s work on the Kaplan Institute has received much acclaim, including two national awards from the AIA since the building first opened in fall 2018: the AIA’s Committee on Education’s Education Facility Design Award and its Innovation Award. But the National Architecture Award is farther reaching, considering any building, on a global scale, designed by a U.S.-licensed architect irrespective of budget, size, style, or typology.  

According to the jury that selected this year’s winners, “The Kaplan Institute at [Illinois Tech] is an academic building that combines functionality and sustainability into an elegant design solution, all while working within rigorous financial constraints in a setting with tremendous architectural standards.”