University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA


PennDesign Alumni, Faculty Earn 2017 AN Best of Design Awards

By Weitzman
Mar 13, '18 1:56 PM EST

Endemic Architecture, led by alumnus Clark Thenhaus (MArch’07),
recently completed a project for California College of the Arts (CCA)
that has won a 2017 AN Best of Design Award from Architect’s Newspaper for a public landscape. Confetti Urbanism reimagines the CCA Back Lot as a lively layering of architecture, furniture, plantings, and human activity.
Also representing PennDesign among the winning designs is WEISS/MANFREDI’s Kent State Center For Architecture and Environmental Design, which tied for Building of the Year Midwest, and Mathews Nielson’s design for Pier 55 in the category of unbuilt landscape. WEISS/MANFREDI Cofounder Marion Weiss is Graham Chair Professor of Architecture at PennDesign, and Mathews Nielson Founding Principal Kim Mathews is a PennDesign alumna.
Of the winning Endemic project, Thenhaus writes:
For three months, the 73,470-square-foot Back Lot presents the prototypes of Designing Material Innovation while continuing to support students engaged in design activities, making art, and hanging out. At once display venue, work yard, and social space, the Back Lot is equipped with shipping containers for storage, a material reuse center, a facilities management outpost, a welding station, and an Airstream trailer, as well as picnic tables, trees in planter boxes, trash cans, hammocks, and random debris. Rather than impose a singular order on these disparate operational and social infrastructures, Confetti Urbanism celebrates the diversity of the Back Lot’s many components. Strewing these components across the pavement as though they were tossedconfetti creates a loose yet carefully studied frame for the prototypeson display. Painted discs, ribbons, bands, and shapes cue visitors to move, stand, and look in particular ways. Subtle tensions and alignmentsamong Back Lot elements draw out the nuances in the five exhibited projects, animating the show through a pervasive back-and-forth between autonomy and engagement, environmental effects and graphic image, function and festivity.
Read more about the project on Endemic’s website.
The newspaper received over 800 submissions in 42 categories “from firms
big and small from every corner of the country,” according to the
editors. The complete list of 2017 AN Best of Design Awards is on

If you're an alumnus who was recognized with an AN Award that wasn't reported here, please let us know! Contact