The 25-Year Award for Excellence in Architecture
A special award for Excellence in Architecture was given in 2009, established to mark the 25th Anniversary of the AIANH Design Awards Program. This award recognizes architectural design of enduring significance on a project that has stood the test of time for 25 to 35 years. The project had to be located in New Hampshire, completed between 1974 and 1984, and designed by an architect licensed in New Hampshire at the time of completion. (No awards were given in 2014. The next 25-year Award program will be offered in the 2019 program.)
Conservation Center, Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, Concord, NH
C. Stuart White, Jr., AIA, Banwell White and Arnold (now Banwell Architects)
The new headquarters for the Forest Society were designed in 1979 and occupied in November 1980. The project received considerable attention both regionally and nationally, including a first place award in the 2nd National Passive Solar Design Competition (1981), chosen from over 400 entries.
The goals were threefold, to demonstrate: energy conservation, use of renewable energy sources, and imaginative use of native forest products. Demonstration was at the heart of the mission, with intent to educate the public on viable alternate energy strategies for northern New England. In support of these goals the building’s multi-faceted passive solar thermal and daylighting strategies resulted in an exceptionally low fuel requirement, even by today’s standards, with back-up fuel supplied by a wood pellet boiler —no fossil fuels. All wood products were from northern New England, including board sheathing (no plywood), the first use of New England lumber for laminated structure, and all interior wall and floor finishes, showcasing the products of the Great Northern Forest.
The architects were invited back twice to add on to the original building, in 1990 and 2000, testifying to the success of the non-profit Forest Society as well as the architectural solutions. These additions built on the success of the original design, pursuing the same goals, and culminating in 2003 when the French Wing addition became the first LEED certified building in New England and one of only 12 Gold buildings in the country.
The condition of the original 1980 building is excellent and still serves as the Forest Society headquarters and holds the offices of several other NH conservation organizations. Over the intervening years the Society has been committed to upgrading systems and adding renewable technologies as products become available and affordable. The Conservation Center complex today is a thriving hub of environmental research and education in New Hampshire and continues to serve its original mission.
Jury Comments: This building was cutting-edge for its time, and many of the original solutions are still there and working. The building was a hinge-point for further experimentation and is a testimony to pioneering work in sustainable design. When viewed with the two new additions, you can see a projectory of thinking.
Bruce Coldham AIA, Coldman and Hartman Architects, Amherst, MA;
Martha Montgomery AIA, Montgomery Ark, Williamstown, MA
Stephen Schreiber FAIA, Professor and the Program Director in Architecture + Design, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.