The Honeybee Discovery Center, designed by HMC Architects, received the top prize in the Unbuilt Green category for The Architect’s Newspaper AN Best of Design Awards.

The Architect’s Newspaper’s annual awards program showcases great buildings and building elements in over 50 categories. Entries were judged on several criteria including evidence of innovation, sustainability, and good design. The full list of award winners can be found online and in the magazine’s latest print issue.

Located in the heart of almond country, which depends on honeybee pollination, the nonprofit Honeybee Discovery Center educates the public on how “bees and humans adapt to the challenges of an ever-changing world.” Its new home will be a model high-performance building illustrating how development can alleviate the very problems that plague bees.

Inspired by research into the efficient use of resources by both bees and the farm structures common to the region, the project is pursuing Net-Zero-Energy, Net-Zero Water, LEED Platinum, and Living Building Challenge certification. Housed in a large indoor-outdoor, passively conditioned shed, the center will provide exhibits, event spaces, and a public resource shaped to be intelligent and memorable. The enclosed spaces are arranged under an umbrella roof rising up from the south. The specific angles suit the needs of the different programs and performance goals. At the south entry, a low roof with a pollinator garden is tilted at the right angle to be visible to arriving school buses but low enough to create a stable soil bed. The hovering garden keeps bees out of reach. Over the main hall, which features a large photovoltaic array, the angle of the roof is nearly ideal for solar exposure at this latitude. Energy consumption will be 80 percent lower than average, and on-site energy production will yield 25 percent more power than needed to meet all annual needs.