Epstein-Metter Studios, Chicago, and Dake Wells Architecture, Springfield, Mo., recently earned honors from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

The two firms were among 28 recipients selected to receive Institute Honor Awards for 2010, the profession’s highest recognition of works that exemplify excellence in architecture, interior architecture and urban design. Their projects were selected from more than 700 submissions from around the world.

Epstein-Metter was recognized for its Serta International Center, Hoffman Estates, Ill., The project is a 90,000-sq-ft corporate headquarters for Serta International Mattress Co. located on 20 acres. The building has been designed to facilitate equal access to natural light, ventilation and views of the wetlands for all employees. To accomplish this, the floor plan has been layered from a glass-edged public circulation path on the east, to an open office area on the west toward the wetlands. The design also takes advantage of the site’s topographic variations to weave together the building and the landscape into a strong holistic composition.

Dake Wells Architecture was recognized for its Exeter Schools Multipurpose Space project in Exeter, Mo. The challenge was to design a single space that functions well as a cafeteria, practice gym and performance hall. Solving the acoustic challenges of these varied uses led to a solution derived from a sushi roll—absorptive on its outermost layer with a thin, reflective inner layer. Attention is paid to detailing the wood panels to distribute sound appropriately for performances while protecting light fixtures and mechanical systems for use as a gymnasium.