Moriyama & Teshima Planners’ environmental restoration project wins prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture

Canadian architectural firm Moriyama & Teshima Planners was awarded the highest professional recognition for its pioneering work considered by many as a modern day environmental miracle. The Aga Khan Award for Architecture was bestowed upon the firm for its work on the Wadi Hanifah restoration in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The award was recently presented by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar. Accepting the award were the following individuals from Moriyama & Teshima Planners: George Stockton, President; Drew Wensley, Executive Vice-President; and Jason Moriyama, Partner. Nineteen projects were shortlisted in the 2010 award cycle with five selected as award recipients.

Moriyama & Teshima, in joint venture with engineers Buro Happold, successfully developed a design solution that enabled restoration of a 120-kilometre watershed within a 4,032-square-kilometre catchment that had become a toxic landfill in the heart of Riyadh.

“We knew this would be a case study for the world and that if it was successful on this scale, it could easily be applied to smaller scale interventions around the world,” said Drew Wensley, who has already twice been asked by the United Nations to speak on the firm’s groundbreaking work. “The success of the Wadi proves that there are solutions available to tackle environmental challenges, even where extreme degradation exists.”

The award recognizes ecologically sound projects, in conception and implementation, which demonstrate sensitivity to environmental concerns. Staggering results include: the development of 53.2 kilometres of roads, six major parks, three lakes, 43 kilometres of recreational trails, the bioremediation of 400,000 cubic metres per day of waste water cleaned and recycled back to the city, the plantation of 35,500 shade trees and 4,500 date palm trees, a reduction of flash floods, the removal of 1,000,000 cubic metres of dumping, and a ten-fold increase in property values along the Wadi corridor.

“Having the master jury refer to this project as a turning point for the environment is such important recognition of our work,” said George Stockton. “As a signature component of all our projects nationally and internationally, big or small, we combine cultural sensitivity and respect for the earth’s natural settings.”

Additional examples of Moriyama & Teshima Planners’ unique design philosophy include: the green roof for the Canadian War Museum building in Ottawa designed by affiliate Moriyama & Teshima Architects; Meewasin Valley Master Plan in Saskatchewan, Canada; Niagara Parks 100-Year Vision; Kuwait University Campus; and an environmental plan for Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

Moriyama & Teshima Planners is committed to creating environments needed to sustain humanity in the 21st century. They have directed its evolution over the past 30 years, building a body of award-winning landscapes and master plans for urban environments, ecological regions and entire watersheds.

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture was established in 1977 by His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, to enhance the understanding and appreciation of Islamic culture as expressed through architecture. The award is presented every three years and selection is governed by a steering committee chaired by the Aga Khan. The selection process emphasizes architecture that not only provides for people’s physical, social and economic needs, but that also stimulates and responds to their cultural and spiritual expectations.

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