2017 AIA Awards - Architecture

Firm: Shigeru Ban Architects

Associate Firm: CCY Architects

Owner: Aspen Art Museum

Location: Aspen, Colorado

This project delivered a new 33,000-square-foot Kunsthalle-style museum to the highly walkable resort town nestled in Colorado’s high mountains.

Founded in the late 1970s as a non-collecting institution, the Aspen Art Museum worked in tandem with the design team to determine programmatic needs and to ensure its new home completely supported the art it hangs. Adhering to a strict 18-month construction schedule, the new museum opened in 2014 and has seen a 400 percent increase in visitorship and a 1,140 percent increase in the number of students served by the museum’s educational outreach initiatives.

Wrapped in a handsome woven composite wood screen, the new museum is located on a prominent downtown Aspen corner. Three floors—two above ground, one below—are dedicated to gallery space, while the top floor includes an ample multiuse space, café, and public terrace with sweeping views of the Rockies.

The long-span timber roof structure that caps the museum is an unprecedented prefabricated system that eliminates metal joints between truss chords and webs. In conjunction with the woven façade, the roof diffuses daylight entering the building’s glass curtain and skylight system. Inside, structural glass floors provide additional opportunities for daylighting.

The museum features an innovative climate design concept based on the functionality of a thermos, wherein spaces with a higher tolerance for climate variation are wrapped around the gallery spaces that cannot see any variation. The spaces wrapping the gallery facilitate circulation through the museum while providing a visual connection with the outdoors. The entire upper level opens onto the outdoors when a large operable wall system is retracted, a feature not seen in many other art museums.

Joining the restaurants, cultural centers, and shopping in bustling Aspen, the new museum helps solidify the town’s position as a destination for much more than world-class skiing.

Additional information

Acoustics: D.L. Adams Associates, Inc.

Building Envelope: Front

Elevator: Lerch Bates

Engineer - Civil: Sopris Engineering LLC

Engineer - MEP: Beaudin Ganze Consulting Engineers, Inc

Engineer - Structural: KL&A Inc; Création Holz

Food Service: Katz Company

General Contractor: Turner Construction Company

Landscape Architect: Bluegreen

Lighting Design: L’Observatoire International

Owner Representative: O’Connor Consulting

Sustainability Consultant: Transsolar


Mark Reddington, FAIA (Chair), LMN Architects, Seattle

Gregory P. Baker, AIA, HNTB Architecture, Los Angeles

David Cordaro, AIAS Representative, Urbandale, Iowa

Leslie K. Elkins, FAIA, Leslie K. Elkins Architect, Houston

Timothy J. Johnson, AIA, NBBJ, New York

William Q. Sabatini, FAIA, Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Adrian D. Smith, FAIA, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, Chicago

Beatrice Spolidoro, Assoc. AIA, Rothschild Doyno Collaborative, Pittsburgh

Marilyn Terranova, PhD, Interim Superintendent, Pocantico Hills CSD; Sleepy Hollow, New York

Image credits


Michael Moran


Michael Moran


Michael Moran


Michael Moran


Michael Moran