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Nearly a year-and-a-half since the initial launch of the fourth cycle of the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP) in Venice, six finalist projects have been announced. The reveal, made during a February 11 event held in Medellín, Colombia, follows last June’s unveiling of 39 “outstanding” projects identified by the prize’s Sandra Barclay–chaired jury. Spread across North and South America, all six finalist projects vying for the biennial award were completed between December 2018 and June 2021.

“For us, this group of projects reflects and represents the concerns and investigations that are critical to architectural production at this time,” said Barclay in a statement. “We made an effort to analyze the quality and impact that each one of them has on their environment and community measured in response to the contextual conditions.”

“These six projects are meaningful architecture that transforms the lives of the people who use and inhabit them,” added Barclay, a Lima– and Paris-based architect who was joined on the 2023 MCHAP jury by prize director Dirk Denison, an architect and professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT)’s College of Architecture, along with Monica Bertolino, Alejandro Echeverri, Julie Eizenberg, and Philip Kafka. The announcement of the finalists concludes an extensive jury tour period, which included interviews with each respective project’s architect, design team, and client.

The winning project will be announced at a March 24 symposium held at IIT, and will be honored with the MCHAP Award along with the MCHAP Chair in IIT’s College of Architecture and $50,000 to fund research and a publication.

Below are the six finalists, accompanied by a short description and a full statement on each project from one of the prize jury members.

Anahuacalli Museum remodeling and expansion | Taller Mauricio Rocha

Mexico City

A sensitive dialogue with an existing museum in an ecological reserve, forging a new public space that extends Diego Rivera’s vision for the site

a volcanic museum courtyard.

Anahuacalli Museum, Mexico City. Photo by Onnis Luque

"The Anahuacalli Museum, originally created and designed by Diego Rivera and Juan O’Gorman, has benefitted from the recent extension designed by Mauricio Rocha. The extension perfectly complements the origin of this campus in an exemplary way.

It converts the original monument—a strong, introverted building—into a dynamic, friendly place, scaled for the human and open to the community. The extension beautifully introduces Mexico City and the world to the collection’s reserves, provides inspired spaces for workshops and classes, and allows visitors to freely explore the grounds of the project. The building honors the unique lava-formed topography by sitting just above it; in doing so, it creates unexpected ambiguous spaces in the shadows of the new buildings.

Mauricio Rocha works in a very subtle and sensitive way and respects the history and memory of the original buildings, their intent, and the natural habitat in which they exist. He creates an experience that is connected and at the same time distinct. His project honors the past, but also distinguishes itself, and in doing so, takes the institution’s performance and ability to engage to another level.

Rocha reveals and incorporates the lava landscape that demands and deserves admiration. His buildings allow visitors to discover and integrate it into their imagination and consciousness. By incorporating it, the project beautifully connects to the place, roots itself there, and generates a sense of belonging."Sandra Barclay

Guadalupe Market | Colectivo C733

Tapachula, Mexico

A framework for everyday exchanges that leverages prefabricated and local materials to prioritize comfort, safety, and a connection with landscape


Guadalupe Market, Tapachula, Mexico. Photo by Zaickz Moz

"Tapachula is a city on the border between Mexico and Guatemala, the first door for migrants from Latin America to the north—and for this reason it exists in a state of crisis and intense social pressure. This new market is part of a national impact program led by SEDATU, Mexico’s agency for urban, territorial and agrarian development, that aims to introduce approximately one thousand social infrastructures and public spaces into the most critical areas of the count.

The new building is the answer to an existing popular market and needed to accommodate a high degree of complexity and both formal and informal social activities. It has been immersed in a negotiation process to authorize its occupation even with the building already finished. The design of the building is defined by the fluid crossroads of circulation paths, the ventilation and natural lighting from the roof that shelters the market, and the relationship between the open exterior spaces and the commercial activity on the interior.

The deck roof is dressed in bamboo surfaces bathed in natural light, which make a memorable space. Its geometry enables the evacuation of hot air for extreme weather and rainwater collection to irrigate the outdoor gardens. The interior of the market is conceived from flexible modules, forming the circulation paths that organize the different sales areas. We hope that the market will become a place for the people of the neighborhood, with circulation full of activity, light, and exchange, between the interior spaces and the activities of the gardens and exterior plazas." Alejandro Echeverri 

The Menil Drawing Institute | Johnston Marklee


An addition to a historic arts campus that meets strict conservation requirements while offering intimate, direct encounters with works on paper


Menil Drawing Institute, Houston. Photo by Iwan Baan, courtesy the Menil Collection, Houston

"The Menil is a dream client, but also a demanding one. For the Drawing Institute, Johnston Marklee were issued an extremely technical, interwoven set of requirements—but not only that; the building also needed to contribute thoughtfully to a seminal campus of modern masterworks, a unique and special environment for encountering art. The success of the project lies in the adroit balance it achieves, a both/and that offers more than any one of its parts. There’s lightness and weight: a fold of paper and a well-rooted tree trunk. It is a welcoming, communal space, open but still withholding, consciously orchestrating surprise while remaining eminently functional. Its form establishes a presence, but those forms also define and make intelligent use of voids. It is architecture and landscape, a singular place that belongs in its immediate setting and in its city.

The complexity and specialization of the interior spaces the Drawing Institute requires do not overpower this larger harmony; rather, the effect is of a sharp new conversation partner, someone you just met but feels instantly like they were always part of your circle. The project embodies and honors the Menil’s philosophy that 'each work of art has a life'—a fitting extension of the life of this institution into the future."Dirk Denison

Park in the Prado neighborhood | Mayor’s Office of Medellín – Secretary of Infrastructure

Medellín, Colombia

A succession of terraces that thoughtfully engage the activities of animals, qualities of soil, and existing materials to shape a living urban landscape


Park in Prado neighborhood, Medellín, Colombia. Photo by Isaac Ramírez Marín

"The Park in the Prado is a public space in Medellin. Through the project, powerful conversations and thought processes are evident. The themes this project wrestles with are of great importance in this century - how do we improve and reverse socio-economic imbalance, environmental issues, and tribalism.

This project dissolves boundaries between nature, city, architecture, public space, landscape, and infrastructure; at the same time, it honors and connects the urban fabric. It does this by implementing new strategies: reusing existing abandoned structures and their materials, not erasing or demolishing, but by carefully dismantling and putting them back to work, and by intelligently managing water and using native vegetation. The result is a place that contributes to biodiversity providing plants, insects, and people a place to grow and intersect naturally.

These strategies come together to produce a project of high social impact, low maintenance, high environmental quality, that connects neighborhoods, and offers a comprehensive relationship to nature, territory, city and culture. The philosophy behind this project by Edgar Mazo and his team is manifested with clarity and quality. This project is a turning point and reference in the design of public spaces and opens new paths toward the future."—Monica Bertolino

The Polygon Gallery | Patkau Architects

North Vancouver, British Columbia

A studio-like exhibition space that reestablishes a relationship between city residents and a dynamic, independent arts center


Polygon Gallery, North Vancouver, B.C. Photo by Ema Peter

The Polygon Gallery is located in North Vancouver. It gives the public and the art community an emblematic canvas for engagement with the arts through a deft use of space and a flexible framework. It also marks an important trend in museum design to harness the power of art as a jumping off point for inclusive community-building. The design evolved from a remarkable partnership between Patkau Architects and the gallery kickstarted by a visionary investment by the city, which contributed the waterfront site. Hapa Collaborative’s interactive landscape magnifies the gallery’s presence and programming potential.

We were impressed by the poetic economy of means established with the softly reflective skin that changes with the light conditions to amplify its watery setting. Inside, a sawtooth roof floods the interior with light and an ingenious approach to infrastructure allows spaces to be quickly reconfigured for varying event and exhibition needs.

The compact building’s eloquent simplicity establishes a strong connection to the street and outdoor spaces and generously accommodates social energy. This refreshingly straightforward building, achieved on a modest budget, punches way above its weight." Julie Eizenberg

Valois Housing Building | José Cubilla

 Asunción, Paraguay

An apartment building that explores the urban possibilities of rammed-earth construction, integrating vegetation and ventilation without imposing on the surrounding neighborhood


Valois Housing Building, Asunción, Paraguay. Photo by Luis Ayala

"Exclusive, extravagant, expensive—terms the majority of the world might attach to Architecture; the museum, the university, the private villa—places they might expect to encounter it. Architecture, as an inspired way of thinking, respecting the environment and its surroundings, is rarely proposed and actualized in 'for-profit' projects.

Cities of the 21st century become littered with buildings that aim to maximize returns and leasable square footage. Residents, cities, and the environment suffer. The Valois Housing Building does something different. Among private, single-family homes that greet the street with lot-line walls, imposing privacy gates, sometimes even barbed wire, suddenly, there’s relief. One lot in from the corner is a svelte four-story building that sets itself back from the lot line, provides a bench in a small public space, and offers a view of this perfectly proportioned, respectful neighborhood anomaly.

On a plot where you’d normally find a private home, the Valois Building offers six for-lease apartments, each housing young professional residents who wouldn’t typically have access to Architecture. The project intelligently uses outdoor circulation as additional living space that both extends the apartments and also gives residents a chance to connect with their neighbors. It employs local, natural materials and beautifully emerges from its context, while also respecting it. The Valois Housing Building provides a glimmer of optimism for for-profit projects: a successful building that is sensitive to context but also challenges it, giving residents and the client more than they’d normally expect to get." Philip Kafka