The World’s Best Schools, Libraries and More: 14 Inspiring Institutional Projects

These A+Award Winning projects explore the future of learning, educating and growing together.

Eric Baldwin Eric Baldwin

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Institutions are grounded in shared values and common ground. As places to gather and come together for societies and organizations, they are often founded for an educational or social purpose. In turn, institutional architecture not only builds room for socialization and learning, but can also be spaces for working and living. The best institutional projects reflect the mission of an organization while remaining open to change.

Recognized with either a Jury Award, Popular Choice Award, or both, the following projects were chosen as the world’s best institutional projects from the 2020 A+Awards. Located across multiple continents, the designs include a range of facilities, from governmental and civic projects to higher education and learning environments. Each project represents best practices in institutional design, creating flexible, communal spaces for modern life.

InstitutionChuon Chuon Kim 2 Kindergarten by KIENTRUC O, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Institutional-Kindergartens, Jury Choice Award

The Chuon Chuon Kim 2 Kindergarten project was introduced to Ho Chi Minh City’s District 2 as an educational environment for interactions between the children and the adults. Instilled within the school is an openness with a spark of curiosity that allows people of all ages to venture and explore the space.

InstitutionCourtyard Kindergarten by MAD, Beijing, China
Institutional-Kindergartens, Popular Choice Award

Located on the site of a traditional siheyuan courtyard dating back to 1725, the scheme inserts a new building that protects the existing buildings that are restored for use. The design features a dynamic floating roof that surrounds the historic courtyard. Read more about this project here.

InstitutionDTU Energy – B310 by Christensen & Co Architects, Denmark
Institutional-Higher Education & Research Facilities, Jury Choice Award

Building B310 at Technical University Denmark (DTU) provides Energy, Physics and the 3D Imagining Center with new facilities and creating space for interdisciplinary collaboration. The six story high building includes custom designed research facilities and flexible laboratories able to meet future needs.

InstitutionAcademic Complex at UIC by Solomon Cordwell Buenz, Chicago, IL, United States
Institutional-Higher Education & Research Facilities, Popular Choice Award

The Academic and Residential Complex is a new mixed-use building at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The project is composed of two volumes: an angular, ten-story residence tower and a curvilinear, two-story academic structure.

InstitutionCapsule hotel in a rural library by Atelier tao+c, China
Institutional-Libraries, Jury Choice Award

Hidden in the forests of Tonglu in Zhejiang province, Qinglongwu is an ancient village named after a stream passing through. An old house of wood structure and mud walls is entrenched along a road in the village. Atelier tao+c redesigned and regenerated the old building by inserting a capsule hotel and library.

InstitutionMicrolibrary Warak Kayu by SHAU, Semarang, Indonesia
Institutional-Libraries, Popular Choice Award

As a neighborhood icon with multiple programs, the Microlibrary Warak Kayu is the fifth built project within the Microlibrary series. The initiative aims to increase reading interest by creating socially-performative multifunctional community spaces with environmentally-conscious design and materials serving low-income neighborhoods.

InstitutionFass School and Teachers’ Residences by Toshiko Mori Architect, Senegal
Institutional-Primary & High Schools, Jury Choice Award

Situated in remote Senegal, the new Fass School and Teachers’ Residence is the first school in a region of over 110 villages to provide secular education alongside traditional Quranic teaching. A project completed in collaboration with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and Le Korsa, the school can serve up to 300 students.

InstitutionKB Primary and Secondary School by HIBINOSEKKEI+Youji no Shiro, Sasebo, Japan
Institutional-Primary & High Schools, Popular Choice Award

A closed public secondary school was renovated as a private primary and secondary school. The team realized the school renovation with low cost by designing all school furniture to help students learn through actively collaborating, and this was done by reusing existing frames.

InstitutionFirst Year Student Village by Perkins and Will
Institutional-Unbuilt Institutional, Jury Choice Award

Located in the city of Coral Gables, the campus has for decades embraced an environment where buildings are nestled in gardens, allowing for the opportunity to create a dialogue with nature and form indoor and outdoor spaces that embrace the local climate.

InstitutionKamyaran City School by CAAT Studio, Kamyaran, Iran
Institutional-Unbuilt Institutional, Popular Choice Award

This project is located in Kamyaran city in Kurdistan province which is one of the western border provinces of Iran, in addition, one of the most important transit borders of Iran. The design includes an elementary school and a space for people to socialize with each other.

InstitutionMarine Education Center by Lake|Flato Architects, MS, United States
Concepts – Plus-Architecture +Climate Change, Jury Choice Award

The Marine Education Center at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory is located in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. In 2005, the previous Center was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. A second storm impacted the site during schematic design, and a third, Hurricane Nate, hit during construction. It was clear— the new facility would need to be resilient, sustainable and durable.

InstitutionMori Hosseini Student Union by ikon.5 architects, Daytona Beach, FL, United States
Concepts – Plus-Architecture +Engineering, Popular Choice Award

Inspired by birds in flight, the student union building at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is an expression of its mission to teach the science, practice and business of aviation and aerospace. Located at the front door to the campus, the building’s soaring form creates an iconic identity for the University.

InstitutionCoworking LAB Nucía by CrystalZoo, Carrer Guadalest, Alacant, Spain
Institutional-Government & Civic Buildings, Jury & Popular Choice Awards

La Nucía is a pre-coastal town, close to Benidorm (Alicante), continuously searching for ways to avoid the emigration of its population. The project arose from the need of the city council itself to generate a dynamic and open space, which would be able to attract corporate talent and act as a cultural catalyst for the area.

InstitutionOlympic House by 3XN, Lausanne, Switzerland
Concepts – Plus-Architecture +Sustainability, Jury & Popular Choice Awards

Olympic House, the new headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was made to demonstrate the IOC’s commitment to sustainability, which was one of the five key success factors that the client and architectural team identified at the outset of the project. The result is one of the world’s most sustainable office buildings.

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Eric Baldwin Author: Eric Baldwin
Based in New York City, Eric was trained in both architecture and communications. As Director of Communications at Sasaki, he has a background spanning media, academia, and practice. He's deeply committed to trying as many restaurants as possible in NYC.
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