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Iowa’s newest centre for the visual arts is itself a work of art, albeit an abstract one, with the blocky segmentation of a Nicolas de Staël painting – a playful composition of volumes interspersed with swoops and curves that belies the building’s incredible functionality. Steven Holl Architects included seven “centres of light” via vertical canyons that bring sun deep into the structure.

Interiors are similarly porous, with spaces devoted variously to individual creativity or collaboration and camaraderie. The private artists’ studios include glass partitions that allow students to see what their peers are doing, while the floor plates incorporate massive apertures that give way to gracious, light-filled atriums.

Projects: Visual Arts Building, University of Iowa

Location: Iowa City, U.S.

Firm: Steven Holl Architects, U.S.

Team: Rychiee Espinosa, Steven Holl and Chris McVoy with Garrick Ambrose, Christiane Deptolla, JongSeo Lee, Johanna Muszbek, Garrett Ricciardi, Christopher Rotman, Filipe Taboada, Christina Yessios, Bell Ying Yi Cai and Yiqing Zhao

Visual Arts Building, University of Iowa
This year's AZ Awards of Merit in the category of Architecture over 1,000M² went to bold and inspiring large-scale projects in five different countries.

Explore more Award Winners

Award of MeritBuildings Over 1,000SqM
Melbourne, Australia
Sean Godsell Architects, Melbourne
Sean Godsell, with Hayley Franklin
WinnerBuildings Over 1,000SqM
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Marlon Blackwell Architect, Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects
Marlon Blackwell, Mark Herrmann, David Jaehning and Joe Stanley with Meryati Johari Blackwell, Jonathan Boelkins, William Burks, Angela Carpenter, Craig Curzon, John Dupree, Conley Fikes, Laura Lyon, Sarah Menyhart Bennings, J. B. Mullins, Bradford Payne, Michael Pope, Kimberly Braden Prescott, Stephen Reyenga, Reese Rowland, Michelle Teague, Jim Thacker, Christopher Thomas and Wesley Walls.
Award of MeritBuildings Over 1,000SqM
Aqaba, Jordan
Oppenheim Architecture, U.S.