Get to Know Gold Medal Winning-Architect Steven Holl


Last week the American Institute of Architects announced that Steven Holl, long considered one of the most the most formidable talents in the field, would receive its 2012 Gold Medal, aka the highest honor in American architecture. Known for his ability to effortlessly blend space and light and a fondness for perforated surfaces, Holl atypically develops his designs by painting them in water colors first. He’s also always keenly aware of context in his work. “I believe that architecture needs to be completely anchored in its program and site,” he told Inhabitat earlier this year. “Its meaning must be so deeply rooted in the conditions of its inception that it’s unfazed by fashion.” Click through to take a quick tour of some of Holl’s most well-known buildings from around the world.

The Nelson Atkins Museum Bloch Building in Kansas City, Missouri

Photo courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

Holl’s $200 million addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art was named the “No. 1 Architectural Marvel” by TIME magazine back in 2007.

Simmons Hall in Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, MA

Photo courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

An example of Holl’s obsession with “porosity,” this MIT dorm — nicknamed “the Sponge” — was completed in 2002.

Linked Hybrid in Beijing, China

Photo courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

Completed in 2009, this mini-city of towers linked by a system of 20th-floor skywalks contains 700 apartments, and is meant to function as its own little micro community.

Vanke Center in Shenzhen, China

Photo courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

Another project completed in 2009, this impressive mixed-used “horizontal” skyscraper is not only tsunami-proof — it’s also as long as the Empire State Building is tall. (Here’s proof.)

The Knut Hamsun Center in Hamarøy, Norway

Photo courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

Created with the concept “building as a body” in mind, the Knut Hamsun Center, which was completed in 2009, pays homage to the Norwegian writer’s work in its design.

Pratt Institute’s Higgins Hall Insertion in Brooklyn, NY

Photo courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

This 2005 addition to Pratt’s architecture school joins two existent brick buildings from the 19th century with a luminous, modern insertion.

Kiasama Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, Finland

Photo courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

Described by the jury as “mysteriously sculpturesque,” this prize-winning design for a contemporary arts museum in Helsinki is considered by many to be Holl’s breakthrough project.

Sarphatistraat Offices in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Photo courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

Completed in 2000, these renovated offices for the Dutch housing developer Het Oosten are best viewed at night.