September 9, 2013

“The design shows a level of maturity and restraint while simultaneously expressing a large-scale gesture, which is something the jury has often found lacking in large-scale international work.”

“A clear communication of ideas of entry and circulation.”

“Powerful subject matter of the relationship between Taiwan and China.”

These are just a few of the comments made by jurors describing the HKS-designed Straits Forum Convention Center in Xiamen, China. The project was honored with a 2013 AIA Dallas Unbuilt Design Award.

The AIA Dallas Design Awards recognizes outstanding work by Dallas architects, both in the metropolitan area and across the country. The purpose of the awards program is to honor architects, clients and consultants who work together to achieve design excellence.

Heath May, AIA, project designer, commented, “We are excited to have our design recognized by such a distinguished jury. Large, ambitious projects present challenges unique to the program, typology and scale and we appreciate the acknowledgement of our process and approach. A special thanks to Walter P Moore for providing conceptual structural consulting.”

The Straits Forum Convention Center serves as a platform for staging political discussions between mainland China and Taiwan who, for centuries, have experienced political conflict between the two regions. Taiwan’s struggle for independence and its desire to be considered its own sovereign country has led to years of political discussion and debate. The solution: a concept that embodies the simple and pure idea of reuniting two parties in balance with one another. The architectural expression becomes a symbol of invitation and gathering, expressed through a large sweeping roof structure rising upward in pure visual balance.

The title for this concept is “balance,” and the intent is to convey, in form and space, of mainland China, this juggernaut of political and economic influence and power, meeting the geographically tiny and ideologically defiant Taiwan in a place that serves to position both parties on equal terms, leveling the playing field. The design conveys this balance, which also expresses the delicate instance when things are in stasis – still, and yet screaming with the life, tension and energy expressed at that particular moment.

HKS, Inc. is a leading architectural design firm ranked among the top six architectural engineering firms, according to Building Design+Construction magazine. Since its founding in 1939, HKS has completed construction projects totaling more than $75 billion in more than 1,263 cities located in 80 countries. The firm operates from 28 offices worldwide.

For more information, contact Heath May at, Eddie Abeyta at or Sherri Smith at

Posted in Cultural Centers
Tagged AIA Dallas Unbuilt Design Awards, Eddie Abeyta, Heath May, Straights Forum Convention Center