News Analysis

Biophilia a Hallmark of COTE Top Ten for 2020

Daylight, indoor/outdoor spaces, extensive plantings, and exposed wood are among the features of this year’s winners.

The American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment (COTE) has announced its Top Ten projects for 2020. If one theme shows through, it’s the almost universal embrace of natural daylight and plantings, along with commonalities like exposed wood and indoor/outdoor spaces.

Two awards went to Lake|Flato, while a record three went to Gensler. Four of the projects were existing building renovations.

This year’s jury:

  • Robert Berkebile, FAIA, BNIM Architects
  • Roy Decker, FAIA, Duvall Decker Architects
  • William Horgan, Assoc. AIA, Grimshaw
  • Vivian Loftness, FAIA, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Andrea Love, AIA, Payette

Slideshow - 2020 AIA COTE Top Ten Winners (click to launch)

Austin Central Library interior

Austin Central Library project team members started with an ambition to build the most daylit public library in the U.S., and they believe they’ve succeeded. To attain this distinction, the team took a scale model of the project to a local park and used it to develop the roof design. Light shelves, shading, a custom 128-foot-long skylight, and a W-shaped ceiling work together to grace 80% of occupied spaces with glare-free natural lighting. Views are also accessible throughout the building.

Given Austin’s vulnerability to drought, another major objective was exemplary water stewardship. A huge cistern stores harvested rainwater that is used to flush toilets and irrigate the rooftop pollinator garden.

From the jury: “The interior light-filled atrium has become a living room for the city, open to the community and all constituencies; the space is dynamic and offers many kinds of spaces for citizens to find just the right spot to read, study, meet, or work.”

Photo: Casey Dunn

Published May 21, 2020

Melton, P. (2020, May 20). Biophilia a Hallmark of COTE Top Ten for 2020. Retrieved from

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