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photo of Olson Kundig Honored with COTE Top Ten Award

Olson Kundig Honored with COTE Top Ten Award


We are pleased to announce that Olson Kundig’s Sawmill is the recipient of a 2018 COTE Top Ten Award from the American Institute of Architects. The COTE (Committee on the Environment) Top Ten Awards are the industry’s best-known awards program for sustainable design excellence, celebrating projects that exemplify great design and high building performance. Now in their 22nd year, the Top Ten Awards celebrate ten selected projects annually that meet COTE’s rigorous criteria for social, economic and ecological value. This is the first COTE Award for Principal/Owner Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA.

Set in the harsh high desert of California, Sawmill is a family retreat embedded into the tough, scrubby landscape. Sawmill harnesses the challenges and opportunities of its remote site, emphasizing sustainable strategies and reclaimed materials. Demonstrating that high design can also be high performance, Sawmill is a net-zero home that operates completely off the grid. The AIA COTE jury noted of the project: “This house captures the phenomenology of living in the desert with the use of simple, frugal, reclaimed materials. The concept and composition are elegant yet straightforward. This is an excellent example of the potential beauty in a holistic passive approach. The house is completely off grid with a light environmental footprint.” For more information on the COTE Top Ten Awards, please visit

We are delighted to share the honor of this award with our valued partners and clients.

Sawmill, Tehachapi, California, USA

Design Principal: Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA
Project Manager: Elizabeth Bianchi Conklin, AIA, LEED® AP
Gizmo Design: Phil Turner
Client: Bruce Shafer and Carol Horst
General Contractor: Bruce Shafer
Structural Engineer: Monte Clark Engineering
Energy Engineer: WSP Flack + Kurtz
Corrugated Metal Roofing: Steelogic
Master Welder: James Riddle