BNIM to Receive the 2011 AIA Architecture Firm Award


Washington, D.C. – December 17, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Board of Directors (BOD) voted today for Berkebile Nelson Immenschuh McDowell Architects (BNIM) to receive the 2011 AIA Architecture Firm Award. The Kansas City, Mo.-based firm celebrated for advancing the design of sustainable architecture from nearly its inception to today when it has become a preeminent force fundamentally re-shaping the built environment.

The AIA Architecture Firm Award, given annually, is the highest honor the AIA bestows on an architecture firm and recognizes a practice that consistently has produced distinguished architecture for at least 10 years. BNIM will be honored at 2011 AIA National Convention in New Orleans.

BNIM, led by named partners Bob Berkebile, FAIA, Tom Nelson, FAIA, David Immenschuh, and Steve McDowell, FAIA, describe themselves as Midwestern regional architects, but aren’t limited to any specific style or design language. Always rigorously sustainable, their buildings can be woodsy with familiar vernacular references, or refined with hi-tech glass and steel compositions of pure building performance. BNIM has a national presence with offices in Des Moines, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Diego, but they have truly left an indelible mark on Kansas City, their hometown base. This is because of the sheer number and variety of buildings they’ve designed there, but also because of the professional influence they have wielded as mentors, teachers, and practitioners.

From 1970 when it was founded to today, BNIM has been a crucial voice in defining and developing the art and science of sustainable architecture at its every historic juncture. In 1990, principal Bob Berkebile, became the founding chairman of the very first AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE), whose awards would soon become a leading guidepost in the development of sustainable buildings. Three years later, at AIA headquarters, Berkebile hosted the first meeting to establish a green building certification non-profit, which would eventually become the U.S.

Green Building Council (USGBC). That year he also worked on a pilot design study for a Montana State University building that became an early template for the LEED rating system. Just this year, BNIM became one of two firms to complete a building that met the world’s strictest green building certification system: The Living Building Challenge. The Omega Center for Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck, N.Y., is a biological wastewater filtration facility that produces no waste, recycles all its water, and generates all its own energy. BNIM’s close, influential relationship with the USGBC continues to this day, as the firms weighs in on how to move LEED beyond its current highest Platinum standard.

“Because of their continuous leadership when it came time to determine the next level of performance with the LEED system, I could think of no more qualified firm to be part of crafting this tool,” wrote USGBC CEO and president Richard Fedrizzi in a recommendation letter. Fedrizzi also called BNIM, “already the firm of the decade. I can honestly say that no firm has done as much to place the profession on its current trajectory towards a truly sustainable future as BNIM.”

BNIM’s work has garnered them two AIA National Honor Awards, 20 state and local AIA awards in the last two years alone, and numerous COTE Top Ten Green Awards. A few examples of their work include:

    • The Freight House Pedestrian Bridge in Kansas City, Mo., which relocated a freight bridge built in 1892 and renovated it as a pedestrian link in downtown Kansas City by threading a walkway through existing trusses, thereby drawing together varied layers of the city’s industrial history.
    • The Bannister Federal Complex in Kansas City, Mo., a 1940s warehouse that BNIM converted into a GSA office building. It features a sky-lit atrium and a “light sculpture” projected on to walls, ceilings, and surfaces.
    • The Lewis and Clark State Office Building in Jefferson City, Mo., was the first state office building in the nation to attain LEED Platinum certification, and BNIM’s design takes formal cues from the nearby limestone bluffs and Missouri River.
    • Previous AIA Firm Award recipients include Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects, Leers Weinzapfel, Moore Ruble Yudell, Muphy/Jahn, and KieranTimberlake. In recognition of BNIM legacy to architecture, their name will be chiseled into the granite Wall of Honor in the lobby of the AIA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

      About The American Institute of Architects
      For over 150 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. By using sustainable design practices, materials, and techniques, AIA architects are uniquely poised to provide the leadership and guidance needed to provide solutions to address climate change. AIA architects walk the walk on sustainable design. Visit Twitter:


Matt Tinder

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