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Regent College Tower Receives American Institute of Architects Award

May 11, 2009

A Canadian architect and a glass artist, each distinguished in their own fields, will share centre stage in San Francisco this April when they receive the prestigious Design Merit Award for Sacred Landscapes from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

This award was presented to architect Clive Grout and glass artist Sarah Hall on April 29th for their collaborative work in creating a dramatic and innovative wind tower for the new Theology Library of Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. Awarded through the AIA’s Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art & Architecture, the Sacred Landscape Award will recognize the pioneering work of Grout and Hall in creating an architectural landmark that combines art, spirituality, and ecology.

Rising from the center of the park, the forty-foot high triangular glass wind tower provides passive ventilation for the library below and is a significant landmark for the College. Integrated into the south face of the tower is a dramatic art glass work – the first permanent installation of photovoltaic glass art in North America. A luminous column of silvery, fused and etched glass is inscribed with the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic - inspired by a manuscript in the Library below. “We’re thrilled to receive this award, and we’re especially pleased that it is raising the profile of innovative approaches to green building in North America,” says Grout.

The wind tower and the glass artwork, True North / Lux Nova, reflect the strong commitment to environmental education and stewardship at Regent College – the same commitment that led it to build its new library underground - leaving room for a three-quarter acre park which welcomes students, staff and visitors. Sited at the main entrance to the University of British Columbia, the park is also a natural crossroads. The glass work contains photovoltaic cells that collect energy during the day to light the tower at night - offering a powerful message for the future and a beacon of light for the community. In this installation - the first in North America - stained glass with its thousand-year history has been revitalized for a new role in the 21st Century.

In ancient times, people would erect Stelae for wayfinding and to celebrate significant events. These were often made from stone with inscriptions carved into them. Markers of this kind tell us about the stories and beliefs of cultures that have preceded our own. “We consider our wind tower in much the same way - a contemporary Stela which serves as a witness to humankind’s constant search for orientation, direction and inspiration,” says Hall.

Clive Grout and Sarah Hall received the Design Merit Award on the eve of the American Institute of Architects convention in San Francisco on April 29, 2009.