2015 Design Award Winners Announced

AIA Tennessee announced the 2015 Design Awards at a gala celebration during AIA Tennessee’s state convention in Knoxville on July 30. 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 ten projects were unanimously chosen from a field of 73 submittals, all of which received thoughtful consideration.  “Our jury became especially animated over projects that made an impact with minimal means. In the end, a number of civic projects and community-focused projects with a social agenda were favored. And innovation within constraints, a limited and unexpected use of materials, and solving tough spatial and site conditions for great impact stood out to us. We didn’t set out to look for these at the beginning of the jury, but these issues surfaced in our dialog together as we looked at your collected work.”  Scroll down to learn more about the jury.


Regional One Medical Courtyard
archimania (Memphis)

This renovation of an unused hospital courtyard between two adjoining towers provides an updated image reflective of the hospital’s new brand and level of care. Challenged to provide a more welcoming and humane respite for patients and guests, bamboo was introduced as the primary landscape material that offered a new vertical scale to the space and provided a soft veil to mask the adjacent buildings. The entry and windows are delineated by Cor-ten steel thresholds on the floor plane and provide openings through the bamboo veil. Massive wooden seating elements serve as natural, functional and sculptural elements in the courtyard.

Story Booth
archimania (Memphis)

Charged to create a flexible space for an after-school arts initiative along with a retail storefront, this project renovates a portion of an inner city flea market, disguising the after-school writing and arts workshop as a flea market booth. Taking advantage of the existing flea market’s circulation, infrastructure, and storefront, the design integrates reclaimed shelving units from a nearby Sears Warehouse which organize and scale the space into a storefront, “secret” workshop area with flexible learning spaces and a heightened sense of entry. A series of tall openings following the rhythm of the shelving figures let light, views and circulation into the workshop space from the adjacent alley.

Eastside Church of Christ
kennon| calhoun WORKSHOP (Nashville)

This new church for 400-member congregation, comprised of people whose livelihood comes from both local agricultural and town-oriented vocations consists of an auditorium, administrative offices, classrooms and fellowship hall.
Emphasizing form and simple detailing, traditional articulation was translated using modern materials such as a standing seam metal roof, white vertical metal siding, a low brick foundation and white aluminum windows. These materials mimicked the traditional materials but brought economics and durability to the current church.
In order to facilitate the potential of a phased development, the program and design organizes itself into three distinct volumes: auditorium with administrative offices, educational spaces, and fellowship hall. These three forms are then connected by a central corridor which becomes the spine of church activities. Pushing the parking to the rear of the building away from the roadway allows the church to seem to be situated in a field since no cars are visible from the road.


Lankford Hardware Conversion
kennon | calhoun WORKSHOP (Nashville)

Formerly a 1960’s hardware store and warehouse, this project consisted of converting the existing two-story structure into leasable multi-tenant commercial space on the lower level and a furniture showroom on the upper floor with views of the growing Nashville skyline. Challenged to convert a heavy masonry and early precast structure into a light-filled interior, windows were added on both floors, requiring seismic upgrades to the structure. Three distinct entries were created for each business. The upper level furniture showroom entry canopy is supported with painted steel columns, while the two lower level entries are simple glass and steel. The building’s interior expresses the original precast structure and provides a clean backdrop for the furniture on display.

Bellevue Library
Hastings Architecture Associates (Nashville)

Following the devastating 1000-year flood of 2010, a new library was planned for the Bellevue community with a commitment to enrich lives at a local level. As a center for knowledge and entertainment, this facility hosts large formal events and small impromptu encounters, generating unique public and personal experiences.

Critical components to the design were the following:

  • Context – bring to life a central and conveniently located property by creating a new walking trail, outdoor gathering areas for teaching and contemplation and a community “front porch” for large events or small private getaway moments
  • Identity – create a facility that not only develops a direct physical and visual connection to the street and surrounding neighborhood, but also provides a unique landmark generating community pride
  • Layout – establish a well-developed plan with intuitive circulation, centrally positioned and highly visible service desk and multiple environments for a wide variety of users
  • Technology – incorporate state-of-the-art technology while forecasting future trends and building in flexible systems for multi-use functions
  • Sustainability – recognize the benefits of sustainable design practices by infusing the project with thoughtful solutions throughout

The Lay Low
Hefferlin + Kronenberg Architects (Chattanooga)

The Lay Low is the adaptive reuse of a 40 x 40 CMU building that formally housed a beauty shop and the Lay Low Lounge, a men’s gambling club in the revitalized community of Chattanooga’s Southside. The architects, who live across the street, bought the property with the intent to design an age-in-place, accessible residence for their aging parents. The building was structured with roof trusses, so it allowed the removal of all interior walls and a total reconfiguring of the space. The plan includes one large living, dining, and cooking space, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and a large covered. Until their parents are ready to settle down, the Lay Low currently serves as a unique bed and breakfast. On open weekends, it is party central for the vibrant Southside neighborhood.


MEK House
archimania (Memphis)

Adapting to their changing lifestyle and growing collection of art and midcentury furniture, the client prioritized five discrete rooms in their 1990s spec-built house for: the entry, living room, kitchen, master bath, and the unfinished space above the attic to be used as an informal hang-out space.
These areas of focus have been treated as insertions – distinct from the original house in materiality, functionality, and form. Beyond responding to the family’s functional needs, the renovations are designed to serve as a backdrop for the client’s world-class collection of art. Surfaces of dark walnut paneling act in contrast to the white ‘gallery’ walls and serve as a visual material datum that connects the individual insertions as a cohesive counterpoint to the existing.
Because of its location, upstairs and separate from the rest of the house, the design of the attic was able to take on a more active, unrestrained character. Custom built-in lounge furniture responds to and mimics the angles of the attic walls. Dark wood strips wrap the space, lending it an intimate feel while echoing the materiality of the insertions below.


Leadership Memphis
archimania (Memphis)

Leadership Memphis is an organization that prides itself on building leaders through education and collaboration. Seeking an open and highly visible new location, their vision for the space was two-fold: to house private and flexible public workspaces conducive to highly collaborative activities, and to provide rentable space that would accommodate diverse group functions. Using color and directed flow patterns, the two bays function as either one large space or as two separate spaces. The Administration bay includes custom designed cubicles with oversized openings and functional sliders to fit the occupants’ needs as well as a large layout worktop that serves as the center for group activities. The Gallery bay is equipped with 1000 SF of open space, often reserved for public events and shares facilities with the Administration bay. A vibrant yellow provides high visibility from the street and connectivity between the bays. Continuity of the color was an important factor and proved challenging as it crosses between linoleum, acrylic panels, and paint. This client, formerly housed in a midrise and away from activity, has generated a life on its own and continues to draw crowds at weekly events at a formerly empty corner.


Hicks Orthodontics
BARBERMcMURRY architects (Knoxville)

An orthodontic practice sought to expand their presence into an underserviced rural location near several schools, two major interstates, and along a major vehicular route. The building is anchored on each end with the Waiting Area to the north and Operatory to the south.  Each are connected via a patient circulation spine with support functions plugging in along its length.  This arrangement allows for the organization of sequential functions, such as low brick-clad consultation “bars” to be placed along the spine for optimized efficiency. Waiting area provides a high volume glass “front door” as well as ample natural light.  Operatory takes advantage of vegetated views giving the space the feeling of floating within the trees.  The design utilizes a limited palette of glass, metal, wood, brick, and concrete.  The two board-formed concrete walls within Waiting and Operatory block views of the gas station and define the end of the patient circulation spine. To further enhance the connection to the outdoors, the interior wood ceilings and concrete walls penetrate the glass storefront to dematerialize the exterior plane.


Hattiloo Theatre
archimania (Memphis)

The first and only black repertory theatre in Memphis sought to relocate from their start-up space to an existing parking lot in an urban entertainment district currently undergoing a resurgence.  The new building allows the theatre to have its own identity and establish a presence on the corner of a main artery into the district.

Working with a tight budget, the design team formulated an early strategy with two goals: First, define components that were permanent and components that could be added over time based on continued fundraising and profit (this would allow the theatre to add lighting, etc., but not sacrifice building quality), and second, keep it simple.

The building is divided into two main programmatic volumes; the performance volume, featuring two black box theatres and support spaces, and an administration volume. Conceived as windowless boxes, the two theatres occupy the northern edge of the site, abutting a neighboring parking lot. The irregular massing is reflective of the required internal volumes, yet both boxes are clad in a shingled siding that lends continuity and texture to an otherwise blank façade. The lower volume houses the entry lobby, ticketing and administrative spaces and presents a welcoming pedestrian scale along the southern edge of the secondary street (Monroe Avenue). Cor-Ten cladding was used for its ability to weather and oxidize over time while adding to the unique character of the entertainment district.


About the Jury

Julie Beckman, Associate AIA, KBAS Studio and the University of Tennessee College of Architecture and Design, chaired the Design Awards Program and selected Karen Fairbanks, AIA, of MarbleFairbanks, to act as Jury Chair. Completing the impressive jury were Karla Rothstein, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University; Joeb Moore, Joeb Moore & Partners, LLC in Greenwich, CT, and Adjunct Professor of Architecture at the Barnard/Columbia Architecture Department; and James Slade, AIA, LEED-AP, Slade Architecture in NYC.