2014 Design Award Winners Announced


The Tennessee Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Tennessee) announced the 2014 Design Awards recipients at a gala celebration during AIA Tennessee’s state convention. To salute excellence in architecture, AIA Tennessee conducts an annual Design Awards Program. This program honors built works of distinction designed by AIA Tennessee members. The program also brings to public attention outstanding examples of architecture.

The outstanding design quality and diversity of projects types submitted by Tennessee architects impressed the New Orleans jury.

Marleen K. Davis, FAIA, University of Tennessee College of Architecture and Design, chaired the Design Awards Program and selected Steve Dumez, FAIA, of the AIA 2014 Firm of the Year, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple, to act as Jury Chair. Rounding out the impressive jury were Terri Hogan Dreyer with NANO LLC, and Wendy Redfield, Associate Dean of Academics at the Tulane University School of Architecture.

The fourteen projects were unanimously chosen from a field of 70 submittals, all of which received thoughtful consideration. The jurors noted that the overall quality was very high, representing diverse styles, scales, approaches and budgets.

The independent jury first reviewed each project, silently noting “yes, no or maybe” and agreed that no project would be eliminated from the second round without unanimous consent. After the first round, there were still about 60 projects – a testament to the overall quality of all submissions.

Vagabond Mobile Boutique
forK design, LLC (Knoxville)

The Vagabond Mobile Boutique is exactly what its name describes: a moving boutique clothing store, based on a complete re-design of the interior of an existing truck.

Jury Comments:
• The jury liked the conceptual diagrams, which showed how the interior system and elements will easily accommodate display and storage for large and small items, along with change.
• The jury also liked the attention to detail in the design and fabrication of the various elements.
• The jury felt that this was a great concept, with a great program.

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Photography by Jack Parker


Family Safety Center
archimania (Memphis)

This merit award for interior architecture is for the Family Safety Center, a place for victims of domestic abuse. The jury moved this project from the renovation category to the interior category.

Jury Comments:
• The jury believed that this project was a ‘hell of a design challenge” for many reasons: the need for privacy with the users, the very low budget, and the anonymous, uninspiring office building context.
• The visual horizontal datum of the clerestory windows and paint is very effective in unifying the space.
• The jury felt the architects achieved a maximum design result, with minimum means. The use of white is cheerful, while the color accents are very effective.
• A subtitle for this design might be “the power of paint” – color is an important design tool.

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Photography by Chad Mellon Photography



Crater Hill Residence
Dryden Abernathy | Architecture Design (Nashville)

This house for a young family is a complete, and extremely impressive, transformation of an existing large, but banal house. The jury was completely convinced by numerous before and after photographs – used for almost every single view.

Jury Comments:
• The architects stated that they wanted to increase the connectivity from the inside to outside and create more open spaces. The jury believed they accomplished these goals.
• The house is spatial, with clean lines and a careful use of materials. Interior spaces seem so much more open, with so much more natural light. Overall, there is consistency to the inside and outside spaces The jury used the term “dramatic transformation” a dozen times.

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Photography by Caroline Allison

Franklin Theatre
Hastings Architecture Associates, LLC (Nashville)

A downtown theatre renovated to accommodate film and live music performances received this award. The architects developed their renovation as a way to respect the original design for this 1937 movie theatre.

Jury Comments:
• The jury especially liked that the award submission showed original photographs, existing conditions and the final design photographs
• Renovation includes significant technical improvements for sound systems and lighting.
• The final design itself tried to recapture the spirit and essence of the original Art Deco theatre, while accommodating 21st century theatre amenities, for both film and live performance.
• The Jury felt that Downtown Franklin is fortunate to have preserved and renovated this gem. The renovation is a clear urban move, giving character to this downtown street.

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Photography by Jim Roof


National Civil Rights Museum: Administrative Offices
Looney Ricks Kiss (Memphis)

A donor provided a not-to-exceed project budget for property acquisition, infrastructure, construction, signage, furnishings, equipment and soft costs for this renovation to the National Civil Rights Museum. With these parameters, the design team assisted the museum in identifying potential properties. The location was selected for its proximity to the museum, existing apartment rental income, and its design potential.

Jury Comments:
• The single opening in an otherwise impenetrable façade – a coiling garage door – inspired a metaphorical allusion to the civil rights era.
• Materials are a thoughtful blend of the building’s historic character and modern use with the color palette alluding to the Lorraine Motel signage.
• Retaining the original skylights and structure, in conjunction with new lighting and furnishings, imparts a unifying sense of character for the interior spaces.
• The jury appreciated the clean lines, contemporary sensibility, and the respect for existing materials in this design.

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Photography by Chad Mellon


The 404- Hotel and Kitchen
Dryden Abernathy | Architecture Design (Nashville)

This is a renovated auto repair shop with a fascinating program for a micro boutique hotel with five rooms and some dining, within a cultural district threatened by rapid development. The design itself incorporates a composition of the original building, a repurposed shipping container, and an exterior lobby space that engages the street. The jury moved this project from new construction category to renovation category.

Jury Comments:
• All of the beds, wardrobes, vanities, lighting, consoles, signage, and custom wallpaper were designed by the architects and locally fabricated.
• The jury concurred with what the architects stated in their text: “Successes in this project highlighted so many important principles for the design team: sustainable adaptive reuse, cultural preservation, community programming, economic development, creative land use, inventive architectural branding, architecture, interior design, graphic design and product design.”
• The massing is handsome, while the interior spaces are clean and open. The exterior lobby space was especially effective in extending the café area while connecting to the street.

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Photography by Caroline Allison


The Design Collaborative – Offices for BarberMcMurry architects
BarberMcMurry architects (Knoxville)

This design, which transforms two floors of an older building into an office environment of open spaces, is actually part of a renovation of the first “skyscraper” in this city. It has commercial space on the ground floor, and two floors for the Design Collaborative.

Jury Comments:
• The jury appreciated these 3-d conceptual diagrams which clearly identified design goals for an open collaborative space, with 3 clear elements: the blue ribbon connector, green collaborative spaces for conferences and brainstorming, and yellow creating spaces for studio areas.
• A structural change to accommodate an open stair was an important way to interconnect, and unify, two different floors.
• The jury felt that the all white interior is striking, and the blue ribbon connector is very effective at interconnecting all the spaces, starting at the reception desk.
• The jury appreciated the clean lines and sense of openness. The use of white maximizes the sense of light on this interior, while the continuous blue line is an effective, and ever-changing, theme.

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Photography by Denise Retallack


Memphis Slim Collaboratory
brg3s (Memphis)

The architect’s intent on this project was to respect the original, but demolished home, and legacy of Memphis Slim. The program evolved from the musical heritage of Memphis.

Jury Comments:
• The jury was impressed with how modest, and traditional, materials are utilized in a contemporary massing that retains the sense of scale for this urban neighborhood.
• In the interior views, you can see the respect for, and the contrast between, the reclaimed wood and new elements of construction.
• The jury felt that the overall sense of composition is exceptional, while the social aspirations of the program are commendable. The design, and the architect’s presentation of the design, has a strong respect for the history of Memphis Slim in music and in his neighborhood.

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Photography by Ken West


Central Animal Hospital
archimania (Memphis)

In this design for a veterinarian hospital, the banal site context was a challenge. There is limited commercial street frontage, and the design for the hospital definitely does relate to the scale context. The jury noted the challenge to incorporate a veterinarian hospital into this neighborhood.

Jury Comments:
• The parking court helps to set the building back from the street with a great deal of greenery.
• The jury appreciated many aspects of this design; it is definitely at the scale of its context, with a simple massing and use of materials.
• The plan was functional and well-organized, with a clear circulation spine for the staff as well as for the clients with patients.
• The use of color is effective from both the interior and exterior.

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Photography by Hank Mardukas Photography


The Natalie L. Haslam Music Center at the University of Tennessee
Associated Music Center Architects (A Joint Venture: BarberMcMurry architects and Blankenship and Partners (Knoxville)

The architects designed a Music Center, with a complex program containing strong technical demands, a limited budget from a state university, and a challenging site on the campus, where scale and pedestrian circulation is so important. The jury was impressed that this design achieved LEED Gold.

Jury Comments:
• In the plan of the main level, you can see how the circulation of the building works, both at the scale of the site and at the scale of the building.
• The jury felt that the facades, as well as the interiors, are handsome. The exterior relies on a restrained use of materials.
• The interiors contrast with the exteriors, and maximize the sense of natural light.
• The circulation spaces, lobby, and stairs are really well detailed.

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Photography by Denise Retallack


Frugal Farmhouse
curb (Knoxville)

The project name, Frugal Farmhouse, immediately helped the jury to understand the client’s design goals for economy. Frugality was achieved, not just in building, but in sustainable design practices related to energy use and water conservation. It seemed as if every design move had multiple rationales: functional, cost-effective, and compositional.

Jury Comments:
• The diagrams really helped the jury to understand the conceptual integration of different spaces: covered outdoor spaces, durable materials, the construction module, selective customization, frugal active systems, and immediate infiltration.
• The diagrams show the approach to cross ventilation, shading and solar heat gain.
• Overall, this presentation made a compelling conceptual argument for frugal design, in the short term costs of construction, and in the long term costs related to maintenance.

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Photography by Robert Batey Photography


Barrier Island House
Sanders Pace Architecture (Knoxville)

This house is located on the Florida Intercoastal Highway, with both land and water access. The design is commendable because of the way the designers presented their thorough design process and analysis of the context. They documented numerous designs and design transformations, along with a study of the design context of the neighborhood.

Jury Comments:
• The jury appreciated the sense of tranquility and the way the interior spaces seemed to relate to the exterior.
• At the micro-scale, the jury also appreciated the sense of materials and attention to details.
• Overall, this house demonstrated excellence in its response to its site, in its functionality, and in its sense of scale and details.

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Photography by Bruce Cole


Old Briar
Applied Research (Knoxville)

This design consistently respects the landscape and specific sense of place, for this new home on an 80 acre farm in West Tennessee.

Jury Comments:
• As the architects stated, this house is modest and unassuming, presenting the scale, form, and materiality of an agricultural building.
• Exterior spaces are as carefully designed as the interior.
• Overall, the jury was impressed with the sense of character in this design, which reinterprets elements of a farm vernacular.
• Sustainable; with details retained from reclaimed items.

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Photography by Jeffrey Jacobs Photography

Holston River House
Sanders Pace Architecture (Knoxville)

This design was commendable because of the sensitivity in the way the architects responded to this unique site in East Tennessee. The jury appreciated how the building form seems to embrace the landscape, its views and orientation.

Jury Comments:
• The site plan demonstrates that the form of the building responds to the primary views to and from the site.
• The jury definitely appreciated the conceptual rigor of the design in its spatial and volumetric use of three materials: the concrete plinth, 3 primary volumes which are cedar clad, and the standing seam metal wrapper.
• The jury appreciated that every interior space had a very specific relationship to the exterior.
• Jurors noted that the building seems to hover above the ground and weave between the trees. The sense of materials seems to evolve from the site. Overall, this has a remarkable sense of place.

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Photography by Bruce Cole