UNC Coastal Studies Institute Wins Chicago Athenaeum International Architecture Award

Architects Clark Nexsen and Associate Architects Cahoon & Kasten honored for best new global design of the facility in Eastern North Carolina.

The UNC Coastal Studies Institute Research Building has been awarded the International Architecture Award for Best New Global Design (2014) by The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies. The annual International Architectural Awards programis among the most prestigious building awards program honoring new and cutting-edge design.

This year, the Museum received a record number of projects for new buildings, landscape architecture, and urban planning projects from around the globe. The awards jury selected projects from 28 nations “that reflect the changing state of global architecture and reveal emerging new design directions by today’s most visionary practitioners.”

“We are thrilled that UNC CSI’s Research Building has received this international design award. It brings attention to how good design can integrate beauty innovation and functionality to create a facility that serves as an important resource for Eastern North Carolina.”

Nancy White, UNC Coastal Studies Executive Director

The design of the UNC Coastal Studies Research Building is elevated, allowing the natural landscape to continue beneath the building while providing panoramic views of the wetlands and the Croatan Sound. The ground floor is primarily open to the outside to create large, covered outdoor educational spaces, with lab spaces, classrooms, and offices located on the upper floors. The use of natural light is predominant throughout the building.

“We based the design of the research building on the interwoven relationship between architecture and landscape,” said Clark Nexsen architect, Don Kranbuehl. “We wanted to anchor the building to the site while respecting the existing landscape of fragile wetlands and waterways.”
The facility has received LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in recognition of its sustainable design. A cost-effective geothermal HVAC system utilizes untreated Dare County well water as the geothermal energy source with minimal impact on the coastal environment.

The Chicago Athenaeum, together with The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies presented a special exhibition of all awarded buildings during the Second Istanbul Design Biennial in Istanbul, Turkey. Following the Biennial, the exhibition traveled inside Europe and the U.S. to Contemporary Space Athens and to The Chicago Architecture Biennial. A Catalogue for the International Architecture Awards features the winning projects.