2016 Design Award Winners are…

The AIA TN 2016 Design Awards were announced during the state convention in Chattanooga on August 25, 2016. 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.

Scott Busby, AIA, principal at Smee + Busby Architects in Knoxville, chaired the Design Awards Program. Mr. Busby selected Paul Woolford, AIA, LEED AP, Design Principal for HOK San Francisco, to act as Jury Chair. Completing the impressive jury were David Lennox – Campus Architect for Stanford University, Allison Williams – Design Principal AECOM San Francisco, Edgar Lopez – Architect of the City of San Francisco and Catherine Veikos – Chair of the Interior Design Program, and a Professor at the California College of Arts.

Fourteen projects were chosen from a field of 95 submittals, all of which received thoughtful consideration. “We’re admiring of much of what was shared with us, and we thank you for the opportunity to share our thoughts with your community. Our jury used two perspectives of design critique to make a determination of whether or not a project was deserving of an award; firstly, is it an example of “best in class” for its building typology, or, does it take a familiar typology, and say something “in an original way”.

Several significant patterns emerged: projects explored familiar typologies; house, church, office building, theater and public infrastructure….within the boundaries of budgets, schedules, and challenging site & spatial conditions, design creativity flourished,….and most importantly, at their best, these projects redefined our expectations of what we think of when we imagine these building types.

The awarded projects all embody the art and intelligence of what we aspire to in design, and we are so proud to acknowledge the accomplishments of all those involved in their creation.”
– Paul Woolford, AIA, IIDA, LEED AP

A+M Residence (Sardis, MS)
archimania (Memphis, TN)

Sited in a cattle pasture in rural Mississippi, this house is a retreat for an active couple to escape busy city life. Appreciating the simple agrarian structures of the region, the clients requested a house that was simple and clean, yet tough and durable. The owners are avid chefs and enjoy outdoor activities.
The simple form of the shed profile creates a gable when combined with the projection to the rear which frames the pool. The entry sequence begins with a courtyard that punctures the roof and is framed by the screen porch and carport. The screen porch, rear covered porch and the outdoor dining space extend the interior space for outdoor entertaining. The linear organization of the interior spaces allows the inhabitants to maintain a visual connection to the pastoral landscape from any room in the house. The location of the dog yard and laundry were integral to the design because of the large rescue animals the owners save. A centrally located storm room with concrete walls and ceiling offers a refuge during storms and doubles as a wine cellar. Clad in galvanized metal, the house reflects the changing colors of the sky and landscape and melds into the tall pasture grass much like the old barns of the region.

Jury Comments
• The project is a wonderful example of taking a familiar typology: the single family house, and providing an original and creative voice for it.
• Introduced through site plan and photographs, the house and landscape engage in a remarkable conversation of plane and object.
• Simple, minimal and rigorous, there isn’t a false move made, and the integrity of the design shines through.
• The reflective quality of the house cladding, create an environment where the big sky country of its surroundings become one with the house itself.
• We could have gone on, but like the house itself,…less is more.

The Bridge Elevator (Nashville, TN)
Hastings Architecture Associates (Nashville, TN)

The Bridge Elevator rises as the iconic beacon for Nashville’s new Riverfront Redevelopment, while serving as the accessible conduit between The East Bank and the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge. Exploiting the need to have what results in a new vertical element rising out of the heart of the new East Bank Parks, the elevator was designed as a celebration, becoming a beacon for the greater redevelopment initiative.

Jury Comments
• The jury felt that the architects took what could have been mundane and/or forgotten infrastructure and turned it into a brilliant landmark of the public realm
• The diagrams of the changing light were engaging, clear, and strong, providing a powerful tectonic statement.
• This simple and strong form, clad in a rigorous, reductive cloak, and reimagined as day falls into night, through provocative lighting creates a powerful urban design statement.
• We as a jury all shared, that we would go out of our way to find this tower, and Instagram it with our friends & colleagues.

Redeemer Presbyterian Church (Memphis, TN)
archimania (Memphis, TN)

This is the long-awaited new home of a Midtown Presbyterian church. The congregation purchased a small 1960’s building in Midtown that once served as a shelter for battered women. To meet their modest budget, we concentrated the budget on the worship space and the building’s exterior relationship to the street, making minimal improvements to back-of-house spaces. On the exterior, a simple treatment of paint, the addition of a weathering steel parapet and low site wall bounding a street-side outdoor gathering space, and a new large window to the streetscape generate an active presence on Cooper. It welcomes visitors as the gathering space and window draw the activity within to the street. Inside, one enters beneath a low ceiling of acoustical, highly textural tectum panels before the space opens up to deck, maximizing the height of the low structure. North-facing light monitors popu late the space, emphasizing the feeling of height and affording glimpses of sky and natural light to every member of the congregation. The low tectum ceiling returns at the stage, accentuating the pulpit with a single penetration of natural light. A language of sealed MDF ‘light-givers’ populates the space: the window boxes filter light from the southern openings, the simple handmade light fixtures activate the tectum ceiling and the light monitor liners funnel natural light to the congregation. These strategies work together to heighten the worship experience.

Jury Comments
• The jury felt that this project took a familiar typology of a neighborhood parish church, employed the renovation of a non-descript commercial building as the bones of the structure, and created a project of vision and beauty that speaks with a truly original voice.
• The interior environment exposes the existing structure, through the introduction of new skylight monitors it bathes the space in natural light, and epitomizes a long standing tradition of ecclesiastical design that is simple, straight-forward, flexible and honest.
• A careful, subtle layering of material and spatial moves transform the commercial building into a place of worship; beginning at the sidewalk, the designers introduced cobbled pavers to mark transition and threshold, they added Corten steel panels to reconceived the façade with simple planes and raw materials in lieu of finely wrought ornament, and finally they reimagined the alter itself by cladding the rear wall of the room in the material of the cross; raw, unfinished wood. This project is a gorgeous, transformational example of the profane becoming the sacred.
• Of all the projects submitted, the jury felt this was an extraordinary example of the most dramatic transformation with the least number of design moves. Brilliant architecture on a budget that everyone can afford.

Mask House (Nashville, TN)
Hastings Architecture Associates (Nashville, TN)

Mask house is a new single family residence for a couple who, after recently retiring from a long career in the public eye, requested a design whose exterior would obscure the true nature of the home
beyond. The client requested a new residence that would throw off many of the images and requirements of their former profession, and instead begin to describe a quieter, private life, more suited to family gatherings, personal business interests and general daily living. To this end, the client requested a home of ample light, warm materials and large expanses of glass; organized around an outdoor living area. Simultaneously, they desired a home with little to no visual connection
to the street. The architectural interpretation of this tension was inspired by Venetian masks found within their extensive art collection. The “mask” developed into a series of walls through which a protected path was created, thereby transitioning guests from a formal, nearly impenetrable motor
court to the warmth and openness of the residence waiting on the other side.
Jury Comments:
• This project puts forward a clear vision for why the design should occur, and how it evolved from the inspiration of the owner’s collection of tribal art.
• The diagrams and supporting materials were thoughtfully orchestrated, leaving the jury with the sense that the owner and architect were clearly in sync.
• The simple idea of a house being spatially layered from the public to the private is beautifully and poetically executed in this project; obvious in every aspect of its design, from the site plan, to the house as an object, finally to the smallest detail.
• The spatial layering is intelligently executed in the three primary environments, the entry auto-court provides a transition zone from the public realm,…the concrete walls and Corten steel “mask” mark the moment of public to private transition, and then the house gathers around a courtyard where the transitions from inside to outside are gently blurred.
• This project is a clear example of interpreting a familiar typology in an original voice.

Indigo Women’s Boutique (Memphis, TN)
archimania (Memphis, TN)

This renovation is a rebrand a women’s boutique within the minimal tenant improvement
allowance. A series of planes and objects perform both functional and branding roles for the store.
The tenant space is treated as a painted shell, placing a landscape of planes and objects inside the shell to perform various functions. A white oak floor plane grounds the store sales area and wraps the display platforms in the storefront windows. In the store’s center, a portion of the floor plane is raised, separated, and bent to create two folded planes. The folded planes bookend a mirrored volume (a storage closet and a room-sized mirror) and shelter other objects: plaster changing rooms and a dark wood-veneered cash wrap. Light boxes that provide indirect lighting and display shelving are embedded in the folded planes. The area uncovered by the raised folded planes is lined with an indigo-dyed carpet. Two thickened white framing planes, held off the shell on both of the store’s long sides, contain niches for clothing display. All display fixtures are recycled from the old store and re-clad with the dark wood veneer of the cash wrap. In an environment where retail success hinges on the ability to showcase a wide and constantly changing array of inventory, the design uses scale and natural materials as formatting devices, creating a template for the diverse content it holds.

Jury Comments:

  • This project is an elegantly reductive re-thinking of what retail spaces can be. It uses minimal forms & materials to create a handsome and thoughtful environment. We found the project to be as intelligent as it is beautiful.
  • Thoughtful and clear diagrams were key to our understanding the design parti.
    Simple construction means of exposed structural elements (metal studs) create a spatial sense of lightness and floating objects.
  • The modest, clean design creates a sense of hierarchy with the central core giving the quality of a museum exhibit, and the use of recessed niches magnifies the artifacts on display.

Ascend Amphitheater (Nashville, TN)
Smith Gee Studio (Nashville, TN) with Hodgetts + Fung

Ascend Amphitheater, situated within Nashville’s Riverfront Park, is a 6,800 patron music venue designed to augment its surrounding green space during nonperformance days. Inspired by contours reminiscent of vintage amplifiers and instruments, along with historic limestone bridge piers and industrial steel river structures once prominent along the Cumberland Riverfront, the amphitheater’s simple bold form serves as a new symbolic masthead for Music City.

Jury Comments:
• This project is a bold urban stroke that will brilliantly impact Nashville for generations to come.
• The creative interpretation of the amplifiers in the design brings an almost subconscious music memory to visitors. They could imagine the patrons knowing that this was something that they had seen before but could not quite put their finger on when and where!
• The materials of the amphitheater: stone, woods & metals handsomely exemplify a modern interpretation of traditional regional architecture.
• The Amphitheater and surrounding park are one of the most important civic gestures in Nashville in generations, and provide a lesson for all communities in revitalizing their urban cores through the public realm.


The Consortium MMT – Talent Development Complex (Memphis, TN)
archimania (Memphis, TN)

This main street storefront provides a growing non-profit with a visible presence and a recording space for the development of emerging talent. The space provides the client with a resource lobby for
engaging the public and a recording environment for aspiring musicians, engineers, and vocalists. The clarity of color, shape, and rhythm facilitate the integration of a progressive environment within
the context of a downtown streetscape and a historical building. The resource lobby promotes collaboration along an extended media bar and dynamic gathering spaces, which has flexible seating for workspaces, a lecture, or casual conversation configurations. By delineating the programmatic zones with specific colors, users are informed how each space is intended to be activated. Three individual vocal booths organize the workshop space, which is terminated by a larger room for ensemble or drum tracking. The non-profit evaluates and accepts applicants to the program, which provides mentorship, access to state-of-the-art recording spaces and equipment, and an intimate performance room for rehearsals and special events.

Jury Comments:
• This project is notable for the plan drawings that readily explain the design logic, which is just as clear in its spatial experience.
• A figural palette of striking & bold colors set against a background field of white and charcoal creates a vibrant interior environment.
• The space employs a spare organization of a really slender, long shell space, and a jam packed functioning program. The aspect ratio of the space could have been overwhelming, but it ironically advantages the design.
• Keeping the existing ceiling creates a sense of the space being a palimpsest.
• Each programmatic zone becomes in itself a mini stage for work or performance,…or both.

Contemporary Women’s Health (Knoxville, TN)
BARBERMcMURRY architects (Knoxville, TN)

This project is a new medical office for a women’s care group to provide for spiritual, mental, and physical wellbeing. A respite housed within a calming & nurturing environment. This east Tennessee, women led OBGYN practice sought a new building that would reflect their core beliefs in holistic medicine. The exterior architecture should be light and minimal, a building draped in white, while the interior bathed in warm daylight, utilizing natural materials with minimal visual clutter. The medical clinic would be a simply organized, functional office that would allow the two doctors their own exam corridors each served with shared support. All of which designed to minimize the stress on their patients.

Jury Comments
• This project is a wonderful example of taking a familiar typology, in familiar surroundings and creating a best in class result.
• The project uses a palette of inexpensive materials, articulated in a clear and elegant way, to project simplicity and intelligence.
• The blurring of boundaries between inside and outside the building is particularly effective.
• This building improves the human condition for those who will use this facility for their health, and the rest of us who may never step within its doors, but will regularly see it in our built environment. It reminds us to lift our aspirations whenever we can.

Vasco A. Smith, Jr. Administrative Building (Memphis, TN)
archimania and Self + Tucker Architects (Memphis, TN)

To modernize the 12-story Shelby County Administrative Building by providing more efficient planning, better work flow, and an energy efficient envelope with new building systems.

Jury Comments
• The jury felt that this type of renovation; rather than demolish and rebuild, offers an important civic lesson for revitalizing our mid-twentieth century built heritage.
• The project was fastidious in honoring what was good design from a previous era, while bringing forward a contemporary approach to building systems and work place.
• The notion of taking a building from another era, and reimagining it as an important statement of sustainability for today, encouraged the jury to acknowledge the importance of this project.

Saratoga Springs House (Saratoga Springs, NY)
BAUER ASKEW Architecture (Nashville, TN)

Designed to evoke the effortless minimalism of an upright New England colonial, this home is classically ordered with a quiet, sophisticated, and timeless presence. Sited midblock this unusually narrow lot allows a present-day adaptation of the Colonial and Greek revival residential architecture of the neighborhood. Strictly adhering to the governing zoning regulations and architectural covenants the home was designed to be distinct yet compatible with the neighboring houses. Researching historic precedents and adapting these to a 21st century model allows the design to reflect the historic roots of the neighborhood in a modernist manner.

Jury Comments
• This project sparked one of the most vigorous debates on the use and appropriateness of historical precedents in contemporary society, but as a jury we felt that the architecture was a clear example of taking a familiar typology of a “house” and creating a best in class example of what that can mean.
• The project was introduced through a series of diagrams; which thoughtfully analyze the historical house as typology. Rather than diminish the project, they evidenced the architects understanding of the origins of design taxonomy, and provided foundation for the jury’s evaluation.
• This project was recognized for providing a rigorous and reductive exploration of an all too familiar residential vernacular: the Georgian and Greek influenced house.
• The careful, abstractive form making and rigorous detailing provide us with a welcome new expression of this familiar typology.

Red Cross of Memphis (Memphis, TN)
archimania (Memphis, TN)

The client needed a new space to aid their organization’s growing outreach of volunteer training and disaster relief throughout the Mid-South. Faced with the task of a complete overhaul and a small budget, minimal but impactful design moves were needed to maximize the new space’s potential. Taking advantage of the existing parking lot, the main entrance was moved to the south side of the building. The new lobby, previously a cramped, one story hallway, was opened up to become a welcoming double height space with a feature staircase leading to the second floor. Offices and meeting spaces, both a priority for the organization, were incorporated into the building’s existing framework on both the first and second floor. Interiors were finished using a minimal monochrome color palette to contrast the pops of red used in the furniture throughout the project, as well as on the main staircase, highlighting the iconic identity of the organization.

Jury Comments
• With the most minimal of budgets, and a demanding, function driven program; this project evidences the simple truth that great design and budgets aren’t dependent upon one another.
• The use of an almost entirely “white” interior palette contrasted with a highly, sculptural stroke of the color “red” in the primary circulation stair, give a striking boldness to what could have easily been a modest design endeavor.
• The entry sequence of this renovation was reoriented and redone from the original building to great effect, and interior work place and gathering spaces were organized with great care.
• This project is a testament to creating much out of little means, and employing ideas over budget to create impact.

Ryman Auditorium Renovation/Expansion (Nashville, TN)
Hastings Architecture Associates (Nashville, TN)

A re-envisioning of The Ryman Auditorium’s “Front of House” as a respectful observance of the historic structure while celebrating its reinvigorated reputation as a venue sought after by a new generation of internationally recognized artists. In 1993, the original building was rescued from demolition through a significant restoration initiative. Over 20 years later, the success of the venue outgrew the ’93 addition. This 22,000 SF project reimagines the patron experience by enlarging and improving the main lobby, retail, ticketing, and restroom areas, while adding a new “3d pre-tour theatre” space, café and event space, and back-of-house offices. The new addition is a balance between the continuation of the existing architecture (including a new 1000 SF custom perforated copper feature wall) and a more contemporary glass “pavilion” stretching out to 4th Avenue to create new visibility from Broadway.

Jury Comments
• The jury felt that this project was an extraordinary example of “reclaiming” an important historical, cultural fixture, and giving it a new urban and civic relevance.
• The addition of a new building marquee, a public house for sharing drink and food, and exterior gathering & performance areas create a vital urban room, enlivening the spaces between neighboring structures, and reimagining the public realm for this part of the city.
• This project faced with the tough challenge of respecting the original building, keeping intact a non-descript 1990’s addition, and expanding the facility to accommodate expansion, provide a new identity to the organization,… managed to do all three with grace and beauty.

The Blues Foundation (Memphis, TN)
archimania (Memphis, TN)

The Blues Foundation set out to transform the street level and basement into a memorable experience that communicates the art, culture, and history of blues music. The design solution needed not only to define and organize spaces, but also conceal building systems for the rest of the three-story building. Three white planes suspended from the ceiling conceal the systems while signifying the first floor public program: retail and reception, lobby, and rotating gallery. The rotating gallery and lobby space serve multiple functions and can be transformed into an event space to accommodate the foundation’s
programs and gatherings. Large openings were carved into the south wall and floor of the building to provide access to the lower level hall of fame exhibit and to allow natural light into both levels. The plane over the central lobby leads visitors down to the exhibit by way of the grand staircase clad in wood salvaged from the demolition. A restrained material palette mixes the ‘white box’ art gallery feel with reclaimed wood and weathered steel, paying homage to the vernacular architecture of the delta region. On the exterior, a cantilevered canopy projects from the historical façade, announcing entry and opening toward the National Civil Rights Museum. This canopy contains signage, provides shelter for tour groups, and emanates a blue glow that, along with the bronze sculpture of Little Milton, have become a landmark within the arts district.

Jury Comments
• This is another fine example of a highly programmatic, function driven environment built within a modest budget. The project reinforces the simple truth that great design and budgets aren’t dependent upon one another.
• Color and material become lexicon for this project,…a palette of exposed concrete, reclaimed wood and an almost entirely “white” interior palette contrasted with a deep blue-lit entry canopy, provide visual contrast and excitement throughout.
• The design sets up a series of striking spatial environments, beginning at the sidewalk and continuing deep within the building. The use of well-done spatial transitions: compression at entry, expansion horizontally for program activation, and a striking sectional move of opening the ground floor to below, all add up to really handsome interior architecture.

Malibu Hillside House (Malibu, CA)
Michael Goorevich Architect, PLLC (Nashville, TN), Brian Guizot, Stephen Perloff & Stephen Billings

A south facing home overlooking the Pacific Ocean is reconfigured with the addition of a new pool, terrace, arbor and landscape. Combined, these elements create a visual ‘frame’ for viewing the sea and horizon. The project brings together light, shade, water and sky in an effort to blur the distinctions between wet and dry, here and there, inside and outside, above and below. In addition to the natural context, there was an ambition to create a construction that spoke to the projects architectural context. Invoking the midcentury spirit of Craig Ellwood and the unabashed bravado of John Lautner the new project hovers above its hillside site as an assertive object and a quiet frame. In this way we learned how to build next to the sea.

Jury Comments
• The jury believed that this project was predominantly new construction, and as such, we moved it into the New Construction category, none the less, we felt it worthy of accolade.
• A simple sketch of framing the space between the house and the sea and sky beyond explain the idea with no more elaboration required.
• The design consists of three simple moves, a parallel pool, a perpendicular deck, and an angular trellis to provide shade for the pool and terrace.
• Each design move was simple in idea, but gorgeously executed in detail.
• All of the jurors wanted to live here,…or at least enjoy a drink from the pool & terrace at the owner’s invitation!