What do Scottsdale, Arizona, Syracuse in upstate New York and the San Juan Islands off Washington have in common? They are all home to some of the most architecturally inspiring addresses in the United States.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has handed out the 2012 Housing Awards to projects at the pinnacle of design, creativity and sustainability.

The jury recognized projects in four categories - custom-built homes for one family, large structures which sleep many individuals in their own apartments and specialized buildings such as community centers.

The American Institute of Architects was established 150 years ago and has more then 79,000 members.

The One and Two Family Custom Residences award focus on remodelling of homes for individual clients.

Relic Rock, another property in Scottsdale, Arizona was designed by DCHGlobal Inc. It is almost entirely sustainable - with the structure made of 99 per cent recycled steel. 'Floating' floor plans mean that the rocks around and under the property have been untouched.

'Multifamily housing' recognizes apartment and condominium design - for both public and private clients that include open and recreational space.

Drawing inspiration from the surrounding mountains and Native American desert communities, Optima Camelview Village in Scottsdale, Arizona (by David Hovey & Associates Architect, Inc.) is made up of 700 separate condominiums linked by planted-draped bridges designed to fend off the harsh climate. It is easy to walk around with plenty of courtyards and jutting landscaped terraces creating serene shelter.