SmithGroup of Detroit, Michigan, has earned a National Recognition Award for exemplary engineering achievement in the American Council of Engineering Companies’ (ACEC) 54th annual Engineering Excellence Awards (EEA) for its role in the design of a new research and development center for First Automotive Works (FAW) in Changchun, Jilin, China.

FAW is a leading manufacturer of passenger cars, commercial trucks and buses. The company tapped SmithGroup’s extensive automotive design expertise for the 4.5-million-square-foot facility, which will consolidate activities, and improve safety and efficiency for FAW’s approximately 7,000 employees. The complex consists of a seven-story administration building; a comprehensive research and development center, including design workshops, testing and evaluation laboratories, styling studio and design dome; a five-story project team office building; and two 2,500-vehicle parking structures.

The facility’s layout and design were influenced in part by traditional Chinese planning principles, which aim to balance the flow of energies within a space to assure health and good fortune for users. Designers took care to address the shape of the building’s components, vehicular and pedestrian circulation paths, the placement and number of entrances, views and sightlines within and across the complex, and material choices. The principles also include the configuration of the surrounding natural environment.

The project is eligible for additional honors as part of 173 entries this year representing engineering excellence from throughout the nation and the world. Judging for the awards program — known industry-wide as the “Academy Awards of the engineering industry” — took place in February and was conducted by a national 20-member panel of built-environment leaders, along with experts from government, media and academia. Award criteria focused on uniqueness and originality, technical innovation, social and economic value and generating excitement for the engineering profession.

Recognition of all award winners including top winners — 20 Honor Awards, 16 Grand Awards and the prestigious “Grand Conceptor Award” for the year’s most outstanding overall engineering achievement — will take place during the 2021 Virtual EEA Gala, to be held Thursday, June 17.