Fast Company awarded the Glorya Kaufman Performing Arts Center an Honorable Mention in Spaces and Places category in the 2022 Innovation by Design Awards. The Innovation by Design Awards, which can be found in the October 2022 issue of Fast Company, honor the designers and businesses solving the most crucial problems of today and anticipating the pressing issues of tomorrow. The competition, now in its 11th year, features a range of blue-chip companies, emerging startups, and hungry young talents. It is one of the most sought-after design awards in the industry.

The building is designed as a series of vignettes that express motion, music, and movement. A semi-translucent façade wraps the structure and, in the evening when the lights turn on, the building transforms into a glowing heart at the center of the campus. Besides adding a distinctive aesthetic, the highly durable polycarbonate façade is made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic and can be recycled again at the end of its lifecycle. A key challenge was to preserve as much of the existing structure as possible.

“It has been transformed into a building that could be used seven days a week both day and night,” says AUX’s principal Brian Wickersham. “By day, it is a classroom building, auditorium, the primary gathering space for the children, and the campus sanctuary,” he said. “By night, it is utilized for neighborhood events and for professional performances that will help generate needed funds for the nonprofit.”

Directly behind the façade, a series of rhythmic columns create an interplay of light and shadow. The resulting gradient pattern works in conjunction with the primary stair and lobby, both of which vary in width (in plan) to create a sense of compression and expansion. This concept drew inspiration from “Lamentation,” the Martha Graham dance piece in which a dancer struggles within a garment, and as a metaphor for the struggles many people with Autism experience every day.

“A common theme among this year’s Innovation by Design honorees, which range from healthcare interfaces to autonomous driving technology, is permanence,” said Brendan Vaughan, editor-in-chief of Fast Company. “The products that leaped out to our editors and judges went against our quick-fix consumer culture, while also manifesting a more inclusive vision of design.”

The judges include renowned designers from a variety of disciplines, business leaders from some of the most innovative companies in the world, and Fast Company’s own writers and editors. Entries are judged on the key ingredients of innovation: functionality, originality, beauty, sustainability, user insight, cultural impact, and business impact.

Winners, finalists, and honorable mentions are featured online and in the October issue of Fast Company magazine, on newsstands September 27, 2022.

To see the complete list, go to