Published: 26.06.08
Honor Award for Architecture

Accolade for Portland Aerial Tram

The “Honor Award for Architecture” of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has been awarded to Marc Angélil of the Chair of Architecture and Design of ETH Zurich.

Samuel Schläfli
The Portland Aerial Tram receives another prize. (Photo: M. Angélil)
The Portland Aerial Tram receives another prize. (Photo: M. Angélil) (large view)

Marc Angélil of the Chair of Architecture and Design of ETH Zurich, together with Sarah Graham, have won the “Honor Award for Architecture” prize awarded by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Angélil was honoured by the AIA California Council for the design of the “Portland Aerial Tram” aerial cableway in Portland, Oregon, USA. Among architects, the project is regarded as a perfect example of how an infrastructure task can be implemented attractively and convincingly.

Hovering campus expansion

The aerial cableway came into being in the context of an expansion of the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) site. Since there was no more space for new buildings on the original campus, the management decided in 2003 in favour of an extension on the South Waterfront District, which is separated by a straight line distance of one kilometre. In the same year entries were invited for a competition for the aerial cableway needed to link the two sites, and this was won by Angélil’s “agps” firm of architects. The cableway, consisting of cabins, an upper and a lower terminus and one central supporting tower, was inaugurated in 2007. Today the two silver-grey cabins ferry OHSU staff and students from one clinic location to the other across a height difference of 150 metres in three minutes.

Marc Angélil is both a Professor at ETH Zurich and a co-owner of “agps”, which has offices in Zurich and Los Angeles. Previously the “Portland Aerial Tram” had already been honoured with three American architecture prizes, the latest being the American Institute for Steel Construction’s “Presidential Award of Excellence” in 2007. The current prize was awarded to the architects by the AIA California Council. The latter awards prizes each year to projects all around the world that were created by architects with an office in the state of California.

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