Taylor Wins Prestigious Holcim Award

CENTERBROOK, Conn. -- Caitlin Taylor, an Associate Principal at Centerbrook Architects, has captured the top North American award given out by the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction, a nonprofit organization based in Switzerland that recognizes innovative projects and future-oriented concepts worldwide.

Taylor, 29, and another woman developed and modeled the winning proposal, Poreform, which is a porous concrete surface and subterranean water collecting system that would enable cities like Las Vegas to both mitigate the effects of and efficiently collect periodic flood waters. The award included a $100,000 stipend.

“Poreform grew out of our understanding of the profoundly imbalanced equation between water scarcity and flooding in Las Vegas,” Taylor said. “The more we learned about the risky ways that the city meets its growing water demand, the clearer the imbalance became. Our goal for this project is to give water infrastructure a civic and cultural presence in the public realm, and to revalue water in the economies and ecologies of arid cities.”

She added that Poreform is an urban surface, an intelligent and flexible system of pores that absorb and collect water like a skin for the city. Capable of rapid saturation and slow release, the pores serve as inlets to a new adaptable infrastructure below its surface. Poreform is adaptable so that capture and release can be achieved locally, whether it’s a curb system, driveway, building perimeter, auxiliary basin, or municipal-scale tank.

Taylor and Amy Mielke, Project Architect at Ennead Architects in New York City, received the award at ceremonies in Toronto. The women are co-founders of Water Pore Partnership and are currently in the prototyping phase of the project in collaboration with engineers. Their concept will now compete with other regional award winners in a global competition to be held next year.

Taylor graduated from Wesleyan University with a major in Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, and from the Yale School of Architecture, where she studied water infrastructure and urban flood control and ranked first in her class. She and her husband operate an organic vegetable farm.