Clemson University

Clemson University

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Clemson's Lee III Wins 2013 AIA Institute Honor Award for Architecture

Peter Laurence
Jan 11, '13 12:03 PM EST

Clemson’s Lee III “Building That Teaches” Wins 2013 Institute Honor Award for Architecture

Lee III, the 55,000-square-foot addition to Clemson’s Lee Hall, has won a national award for design achievement from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The award, one of only 11 given this year, was announced today in AIAArchitect magazine.

“It is fitting that Clemson's nationally recognized architecture program now has a nationally recognized home.  Lee III is a design achievement, proving that a building can be functional, energy-efficient, sustainable and beautiful," said Clemson President Jim Barker.  

The Lee III addition was dedicated in April 2012.  Designed to be zero-energy-ready, the building has already proven to be by far the most energy efficient building in the Clemson University system.  In 2012, Lee III was awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Lee Hall is an academic building that houses programs in architecture, art, city and regional planning, construction science and management, landscape architecture and real estate development, all in the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities.

Clemson alumnus Thomas Phifer (’75, ‘77) and Partners of New York designed Lee III in collaboration with McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture of Greenville and Holder Construction of Atlanta. “This award brings with it great optimism,” said Phifer. “The process of making this work is such a celebratory testament to the collaborative spirit in architecture. These are the very principles that form the foundation for interdisciplinary learning at Lee Hall and I am honored to have been involved with such an extraordinary team.” 

According to the AIA, the Institute Honor Award for Design Achievement is given to a project that “demonstrates exemplary skill and creativity in the resolution and integration of formal, functional and technical requirements, including ecological stewardship and social responsibility that acknowledges and advances social agendas.”

One juror noted, “It is an exceptional work that surrounds students with a seamless integration of programmatic goals, energy efficiency, and creative tectonics.” Another wrote, “Amazing details/textures/light-shadow play/expressive systems lend themselves to a fantastic quality of space.”

“It is such a privilege to work, teach and learn in this building,” said Kate Schwennsen, chair of the School of Architecture. “I come to work every day so happy to be in this space of ever-changing daylight, moving through and looking across the studios that are humming with creative energy, inspired by the students who, like me, are inspired by the building’s beautiful simplicity.”

Brad Smith, managing principal of MPS and also a Clemson graduate in architecture, said “It was a honor to be associated with such a talented and dedicated team of professionals who all spent countless hours working together to design and construct this wonderful project. Giving back to the program that helped to shape our professional lives was a lifetime opportunity and the innovative building will benefit Clemson University and future architects for generations."

Richard E. Goodstein, dean of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, said, “Critical thinking and creativity lie at the heart of what we do, and both are so very evident in the design and construction of Lee III. This award is well deserved recognition for all who were involved.”

Clemson University School of Architecture
In addition to the undergraduate and graduate degree programs on the main campus, the School of Architecture has programs in Charleston; Barcelona, Spain; and Genoa, Italy. This year, the school marks its centennial of architecture education with a yearlong slate of events, including lectures, symposia and exhibitions. Learn more at

Photo: Scott Frances, 2012.