AIA Tennessee is pleased to announce the AIA Tennessee 2017 Design Awards.  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.

Mark Weaver, FAIA, principal at HBG Design in Memphis, chaired the Design Awards Program.  Mr. Weaver selected Ron Stelmarski, AIA, of Perkins + Will, Dallas, TX, to act as Jury Chair.  Completing the impressive jury were Kelly Mitchell, AIA, of Mitchell Garman Architects, Coy Talley, ASLA, of Talley Associates, James D. Looney, AIA, IIDA, of Looney + Associates and Gary Cunningham, FAIA, of Cunningham Architects.

Ten projects were chosen from a field of 98 submittals, all of which received thoughtful consideration. From the overall field, the jury noted “the work was not stylistic, but very rooted in place.”  Commenting further, “We reviewed a broad range of work that illustrated a genuine investment in the cities of Tennessee. There was a strong appreciation for the renovation and transformation projects due to their influence on the community fabric and the linking of the past to the present.”

“We recognized projects that we felt were most consistent and holistic and were executed on all levels: concept, exterior, interior, craft.”  A strong, clear response to context was important to the jury.

“We were also looking for a certain amount of risk or design adventure.”

NOTE: Click on the photos to view a larger image. 


Education Center for Beardsley Community Farm (Knoxville, TN)
Jennifer Akerman, AIA and the University of Tennessee College of Architecture + Design with Elizabeth Eason Architects (Knoxville, TN)

This Education Center was designed and built by architecture students and faculty in collaboration with professionals to serve a non-profit urban farm.

Photos by Bruce Cole Photography and Jennifer Akerman

Jury Comments

  • The jury truly admired the school and students for taking-on this project.
  • It’s nice to be schooled by the students sometimes…
  • The jury felt this project was an example of thoughtful design investigation that should occur with all architecture.
  • The final result was not overshadowed by the process and exhibits a thorough resolution at all scales.
  • The design is a sophisticated combination of conditioned and sheltered/non-conditioned space that maintains an appropriate presence on the site.
  • The jury recognized the cohesion that exemplifies teamwork with a modest budget and fast schedule.

85 Union (Memphis, TN)
Looney Ricks Kiss (Memphis, TN)

The project is a complete building rebranding and renovation to transform an under-performing 17,000-square-foot building located on a prime corner into a unique mixed-use downtown address.

Photos by Ken West Photography

Jury Comments

  • This project caught the attention of the jury with its strong, urban move. It was a very civic-minded solution to an important corner site.
  • The designers addressed the scale and speed of the city in a way that contributes to the experience of this site.
  • The design team brought much-needed punctuation the urban street wall.
  • Interestingly, the new architecture creates such an event that the adjacent buildings and parking garages visually “go away.”
  • The jury liked how the building was “turned inside-out” to engage the city.

Tech901 (Memphis, TN)
archimania (Memphis, TN)

A Memphis, TN based nonprofit required a new space for training and collaboration, capable of adapting for multiple functions related to the information technology industry.

Photos by Hank Mardukas Photography

Jury Comments

  • All the parts hang together for a complete design thought.
  • This project had minimal intervention, yet the most impact. The jury felt the organizing spine was an important navigational element.
  • The jury kept coming back to this project’s use of material textures and color values. They all work well together with a raw, natural undertone.
  • We appreciated that in an all concrete shell, the designers were brave enough to “add more concrete.”

The Chisca on Main (Memphis, TN)
Looney Ricks Kiss (Memphis, TN)

This historic rehabilitation is an incredible turn-around story illustrating how good design can transform a decades long derelict structure encompassing an entire city block into the missing link between a thriving arts district and the downtown core.

Photos by Ken West Photography

Jury Comments

  • This project was recognized and appreciated for the massive undertaking, breathing new life into a building that could have been a blind spot or even an albatross to its community.
  • The jury noted how the existing structures were refreshed with enough authentic care and sophisticated intervention that it did not lose the integrity of the original.
  • The outdoor, between-spaces were links that gave strong cohesion the full-block development.

Memphis Teacher Residency (Memphis, TN)
archimania (Memphis, TN)

A non-profit organization required a new space for recruitment, training and supporting teachers through an urban teacher residency graduate program.

Photos by Hank Mardukas Photography

Jury Comments:

  • The jury felt this project had a strong presence in the atrium of a building and brought the public realm up, into the space…a storefront in the sky.
  • There was a clear, consistent narrative: wood to books to knowledge that informed the material choices and their distribution.
  • The singular book table was a powerful organizing element in the already long space.
  • The design approach gave an appropriate scale to the large warehouse space.

Mama Gaia Organic Restaurant (Memphis, TN)
archimania (Memphis, TN)

An organic restaurant that reflects the owner’s values through a natural material palette, honest forms, and straightforward detailing with the budget of a startup.

Photos by Hank Mardukas Photography

Jury Comments:

  • The space was masterfully optimized. A lot was accomplished with very little added.
  • The jury appreciated the response to the existing structure; the patina of the original space seemed to inform the color selection.
  • The room-within-a-room was carefully composed and did a good job of feeling casual.
  • There was a level of refinement to the scale of the detail and furniture, but didn’t overdo it.
  • The detailing concept was recognized for being consistent with the restaurant’s brand – raw, whole foods.

921 B. Woodland Street (Nashville, TN)
Pfeffer Torode Architecture (Nashville, TN)

The project transformed an unfinished basement in an existing block building into a light filled creative office.

Photos by Nick McGinn Photography

Jury Comments:

  • This project was admired for the “architectural excavation” approach the design team took.
  • The design was intelligent and required serious vision, risk and likely some convincing.
  • The jury admittedly had difficulty understanding the site without any plans or section drawings.
  • It not only renovated a space, but provided a completely new way of experiencing the building.
  • The design offered the jury an unexpected result from what could have been an otherwise ordinary assemblage of spaces.
  • Small, important details, such as the window protruding from the wall exhibited a refinement at all scales.

Balter Beerworks (Knoxville, TN)
Sanders Pace Architecture & Trapp Associates LTD

The adaptive reuse of an existing automobile service station into a full-service restaurant and brewery located at a gateway intersection into Downtown Knoxville.

Photos by Bruce McCamish and Bruce Cole

Jury Comments:

  • The jury found this project to be an “architecture as narrative.”
  • There was a clever project narrative surrounding the nature of “fuel” considering a gas station had been transformed into a beerworks.
  • There was a very convincing transformation story. The existing and new components were clearly delineated in a way the jury felt enhanced the architecture of the whole.
  • The inclusion of sketch details helped tie the conceptual thinking to the final product.

Live at the Garden (Memphis, TN)
archimania (Memphis, TN)

An outdoor performance venue is woven into an existing botanic garden, along with parking, entry gateways, ticketing, restrooms, an event facility, and backstage support areas.

Photos by Hank Mardukas Photography

Jury Comments:

  • This project was recognized as a successful assemblage of buildings that merged with the natural environment; the architecture acting as a frame to the various events that occurred there.
  • The jury appreciated the collection of parts that operated independently but were held together by the site and as an episodic series of events.

Woodard Residence (Memphis, TN)
archimania (Memphis, TN)

A personal residence for a developer on an unused piece of land left from his recently completed mixed-use development adjacent to the rail.

Photo by Hank Mardukas Photography

Jury Comments:

  • This project got the attention of the jury for a number of reasons. It very convincingly addressed the context head-on. It is all about place. Adjacent to a highway in a compromised piece of land, it is an architecture of accumulation.
  • The building draws in the energy of the site as it becomes an urban marker or relic.
    We felt the massing and articulation was very artful and just well-proportioned with energizing scale-shifts.
    The materials are simple and relate well to the forms of the architecture.