August 25th, 2015 Comments Off on Julio Bermudez to present first fall 2015 Harrison Lecture
The first lecture for the fall 2015 Harrison Lecture Series will be presented by architect Julio Bermudez on Fri., Aug. 28 at 4:30 p.m. in the Robert and Freda Harrison Auditorium in Giles Hall.
The annual lecture series is sponsored through a generous gift by Freda Wallace Harrison and Robert V. M. Harrison, Ph.D., FAIA, FCSI.
Julio Bermudez joined the Catholic University of America (CUA) School of Architecture and Planning in fall 2010 to direct the cultural studies and sacred space graduate concentration program. He holds a master’s in architecture and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Minnesota. He has been teaching architectural design, theory and representation for nearly 30 years.
Bermudez’s teaching and research are focused in architectural phenomenology; the development of voluntary architectural simplicity (VAS); and the relationship between architecture, culture and spirituality. He has lectured, led symposia and published articles in these areas nationally and internationally. Current projects include a fMRI study of architecturally induced contemplative states, the analysis of a massive survey on profound phenomenologies of place and work on a manuscript on the architectural extraordinary. His edited volume “Transcending Architecture. Contemporary Views on Sacred Space” was published by CUA Press in January 2015, whereas his second, co-edited, book “Architecture, Culture and Spirituality” (Ashgate) is scheduled for release in October 2015.
Prior to this work, Bermudez’s efforts unfolded around two areas: (1) the pedagogic investigation of design process and digital media, and (2) the application of architectural concepts and methods to the interdisciplinary design of data environments. The result of this work included the analog-digital design method and theory (influencing many teachers and researchers worldwide), a successful information visualization research across multiple domains (attracting nearly $5M in funding), three patents, and a very extensive number of lectures, workshops, and publications both in the U.S. and abroad.
Bermudez has received several national and international recognitions including the 1998 AIA Education Honors Award, the 2004-05 ACSA Creative Achievement Award, the 2005 Arturo Montagu Creative Career Prize bestowed by SiGraDi (Latin American organization), the 2006 ACADIA Award for Teaching Excellence, and the 2010 Sasada Award for his sustained and significant international record of scholarship and service (conferred by CAADRIA, Asia). Bermudez co-founded the Forum for Architecture, Culture and Spirituality in 2007 and has continued to be one of its leaders since then.
August 24th, 2015 Comments Off on Katrina documentary features Gulf Coast Community Design Studio director
The director of Mississippi State University’s Gulf Coast Community Design Studio is part of Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s new documentary about Hurricane Katrina, its impact on the region and the 10-year recovery process.
The documentary will air on Wednesday [Aug. 26] at 7 p.m., and again on Saturday [Aug. 29] at 7 p.m., as part of MPB’s special coverage of Hurricane Katrina 10 years after it made landfall on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
The Gulf Coast Community Design Studio is embedded in Biloxi, and provides planning and architectural design assistance to communities and nonprofit organizations following Hurricane Katrina. Since Katrina struck in August 2005, the design studio work has led to over 150 new houses and redevelopment plans for neighborhoods along the Gulf Coast.
Seven Gulf Coast-area architects speak about what they’ve learned in the decade since the hurricane
By Scott Frank
To coincide with the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we reached out to a cross-section of architects for their first-hand and varied insights on any positive developments in terms of design approaches, public policy changes, client attitudes, and still-remaining gaps and vulnerabilities for the Gulf Coast region.
Based on what has been learned in the years following Hurricane Katrina, what are the most important considerations for communities in disaster-prone areas?
Mark Ripple, AIA: In New Orleans, we have spent the last century living under the delusional idea that we could keep pumping our city dry, building higher and higher floodwalls, and that ultimately our engineering acumen would keep us safe. We ignored basic principles which were clearly understood by our urban forerunners of the 18th and 19th centuries—that flexible, adaptable design approaches which embrace and engage our environment is the optimum long-term approach.
Allison H. Anderson, FAIA: Communities need to accept that an event is not a once-in-a-lifetime event and plan for the next one—one that will be stronger and more damaging to life and property. If they understood that there was a 10-year timeline, and that they had 10 years to prepare for the next storm, it would have changed the recovery substantially.
David Perkes, AIA: When disasters occur, it is almost automatic that FEMA will expand its flood zones. This catches homeowners off-guard and presents real challenges from insurance and building code standpoints if they decide they want some design elements to better protect their home against future storms. The change in flood zones actually changes the entire notion of being a homeowner, where their residence can go instantly from being an asset to a financial liability.
Ann Somers, AIA: To have a delineated plan in place for evacuation, and a plan in place for those that do not leave in time but need shelter; then have contacts with all the groups that can help after a disaster, so cleanup and getting home- and business-owners back as soon as possible to start re-building. A lot of structures were further damaged following Katrina because they had no cleanup effort until long after the storm.
Judith Kinnard, FAIA: The loss of life and property is typically the result of bad policies and decisions by the public and private sectors. Disaster events are often predictable; they can and must be managed in advance.
Have you noticed any positive changes in design approaches, government agency protocols, and/or public awareness? If so, what are the most compelling?
Steve Maher, AIA: After Katrina, the insurance companies took a big hit and the Louisiana State Legislature had to respond quickly in order to convince insurance companies to stay in the state. TheLouisiana State Uniform Construction Code Council was founded, and [it] established wind-design requirements based on certain areas of the state. These increased wind-design standards have proved to be prudent, as shown by how newer buildings fared in light of hurricanes Gustav  and Isaac .
Perkes: Almost immediately, the [Mississippi] governor’s office changed the policy regarding casinos in Biloxi that had been built and floating in the water. Not only did it get these structures out of the Gulf of Mexico and harm’s way, but they are now far better integrated into the urban fabric and a more natural part of the community. Mississippi is also leading the country with programs through the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety that provides financial incentives to design and build beyond code. A $500 spend when fortifying a roof can result in a 20 percent insurance reduction. At the federal level, the Department of Homeland Security is exploring a “Resilient Star” standard, which would make a big difference to advancing fortified building.
Kinnard: There is a fundamentally different approach to the way we think about the ground and the landscape. Designers are using many creative strategies to link raised building levels to public streets and sidewalks. The city’s longstanding approach to stormwater pumping has, unfortunately, increased the risk of flooding and property damage from land subsidence. Policies are changing, however, and our recently adopted Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance requires most projects to retain a significant quantity of rainfall on-site while including landscape to mitigate the heat-island effect and sheltering pedestrians from the sun.
J. Scott Eddy, AIA: Adaptability, being able to change based on immediate needs or circumstances; and diversity, planning to reduce the risk of loss of any one type of service/utility within a city/town/municipality due to a single event. In Collins, Miss., there were underground gasoline storage tanks. So gas was available, but due to Katrina there was no power to pump it.
Anderson: The level of familiarity with design, a result of charrettes, has given citizens a new language with which to demand change. Although recovery didn’t happen exactly as envisioned, residents understand the value of walkability, mixed uses, historic preservation, and green spaces. Now, because of the strong community engagement, these are the people and groups that are empowered to make things happen.
How have general public and architecture client attitudes to resilient design approaches evolved in recent years?
Anderson: After Katrina, there was so much confusion about the base flood elevations that many people rushed to rebuild at their previous elevation the same footprint they lost. Many of these rapid rebuilders suffered additional damage from Isaac and Gustav. Because of these recent storms, and changes to the flood insurance subsidies, they are dismayed to discover the price tag that accompanies this decision. There will always be the holdouts that say, “I want what I had before the storm,” but we need to share this message: It comes at a higher cost.
Eddy: Based on the impact of Katrina, I’ve seen more client requests for diversity in building systems to increase redundancy, and requests for more proactive planning to address the “what if this or that happens?” Still very much a cost consideration, but it is being talked about.
Ripple: The implementation of resilient practices has been no different. People may not understand how the city works, but we recognize its failures and shortcomings more than ever in the 10 years following the storm. Resilient design has been a way to bridge those shortcomings, by keeping communities in place and intact while preparing them with an appropriate architectural response, to confront a significant disaster or emergency and pick up the pieces thereafter.
If you had a magic wand to make one change from an official policy or regulatory standpoint, what would it be?
Anderson: No “grandfathered” structures: If there have been repetitive losses, people must relocate away from unsafe sites. Allow higher densities on safer ground to receive these housing units.
Maher: We have to make coastal conservation a top priority at the local, state, and especially the federal level. The Gulf Coast is our first line of protection against hurricanes, and we’re losing an area the size of a football field every hour! The coast has to be preserved in order to protect our communities.
Eddy: Within the past few years, Mississippi has adopted a statewide building code, but it contains language which allows municipalities to opt out. I would like to see a mandatory statewide building code as a means of establishing a minimum standard of design and construction regardless of where you are located in the state.
Ripple: To require every Corps of Engineers capital project to include robust involvement by architects. It is quite dismaying to see the massive new flood protection work being executed without any urban design or aesthetic considerations. One need look no further than the Netherlands to see that urban-scaled infrastructure projects can be beautiful as well.
Perkes: What has been frustrating is that if a family wants to relocate to a safer area following a disaster there is not an equitable way for families to be bought out. The FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Programs are extremely complicated—it’s like they almost discourage families to seek a relocation buyout option by making the application process so cumbersome. There needs to be some readymade programs that are user-friendly and make it economically feasible for families to have their homes bought out at fair and reasonable prices.Kinnard: I would still like to see higher-density development on higher ground as a prudent strategy, without forcing residents out of the lower areas.Somers: That is easy: a statewide building code.
Allison H. Anderson, FAIA, unabridged Architecture, Bay St. Louis, Miss.
J. Scott Eddy, AIA, Barlow•Eddy•Jenkins, P.A., Jackson, Miss.
Judith Kinnard, FAIA, Professor of Architecture and Harvey-Wadsworth Chair of Landscape Urbanism, Tulane University
Steve Maher, AIA, Ritter Maher Architects, Baton Rouge, La.; Member of AIA Strategic Council, Regional Representative, Gulf States
First-Time Homeownership with the Baptist Town Cottages
In the historic African American community of Baptist Town in Greenwood, Mississippi, 10 families recently realized the dream of homeownership with Baptist Town Cottages. The preassembled cottages were among the several thousand houses built for families in Mississippi and other Gulf Coast states displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Working with numerous local partners, the Greenwood/Leflore Fuller Center for Housing acquired the Baptist Town Cottages and sold them to families in 2014. The cottages are part of the Baptist Town neighborhood revitalization project, which includes new parks, streetscape improvements, job training, and a community center.
A Proud History, but Lingering Problems
Baptist Town has a rich history stretching back to the post-Civil War era. Residents maintain that their community was one of the first in the Mississippi Delta where freed slaves could own property. Seventy years later, famous blues singers Robert Johnson and David “Honeyboy” Edwards were drawn to the community, based on its reputation as a haven for aspiring musicians who wanted to escape working in the fields. During the 1960s, civil rights groups used Greenwood as a base of operations to reach African Americans in the Mississippi Delta between Memphis and Jackson.
Despite the efforts of civil rights leaders, the city of Greenwood continues to be highly segregated and experiences many of the ills associated with segregation. Fifty percent of the estimated 10,000 African American residents of Greenwood live below the federal poverty level. Cut off from the city’s downtown by railroad tracks and a bayou, the Baptist Town neighborhood needs new investment, particularly quality, affordable housing. Many of Baptist Town’s houses were built for sharecroppers and are now largely dilapidated. A Harvard University survey of 165 homes in Baptist Town found that 136 were substandard.
According to Emily Roush-Elliott, an architectural fellow at Enterprise Community Partners which manages the cottage project, the built environment often reinforces social and economic inequity instead of helping residents. One of the goals of the Baptist Town Cottages is to reverse some of that inequity by providing desperately needed affordable housing and helping residents build financial equity through homeownership.
Baptist Town Cottages
Women from the Ladies in Landscaping program learned new skills by creating a stormwater management garden. Credit: Emily Roush-Elliott
In 2014, the Greenwood/Leflore Fuller Center for Housing installed the first 11 of 26 cottages that the state had donated to Greenwood several years earlier. The Fuller Center selected families, all of whom were first-time homebuyers, based on need and ability to pay. Other partners on the project included the Greenwood-Leflore-Carroll Economic Development Foundation (GLCEDF), Mississippi State University’s Carl Small Town Center, and Enterprise Community Partners. The Carl Small Town Center was an early proponent of Baptist Town’s rejuvenation, having created a master plan for the community in 2001. That planning effort led to Greenwood hosting a participant in theEnterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship program, which places architects within development organizations to add value to projects through design.
The homebuyers were required to volunteer for service in the community or provide sweat equity to complete the cottages. Roush-Elliott and the Fuller Center worked with the future occupants to customize certain features of their homes, such as some architectural details, the color scheme, and the location of their cottage on the development site. The homes and their foundations are designed to withstand hurricane-force winds and have thick walls built with 2x6s instead of 2x4s. The cottages’ tight building envelope reduces heat transfer to help maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. As residents finish their first year in their new homes, the energy performance of the buildings will be compared with that of a typical affordable home in Greenwood.
The installation and finishing of the cottages were seen as a “joint investment in both the built environment and human capacity,” says Roush-Elliott, and were used to enhance the job readiness of some Baptist Town residents. Local residents received on-the-job training in carpentry and other building trades as they helped complete the cottages. For work that required technical specialties, the project hired local and minority contractors. Also, Ladies in the Landscaping, a program that helped train eight minority women in landscaping, completed an eco-friendly stormwater management garden.
The homes are affordable to households earning less than 30, 50, 60, or 70 percent of the area median income. The homeowners financed their cottages using no-interest, 15-year mortgages, with average monthly payments ranging from $132 to $159. Through grants from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas, the homeowners received $4,000 in downpayment assistance. Enterprise Community Partners’ Gulf Coast office sponsored homebuying workshops for families that included information on maintaining a home and credit counseling.
The total cost of the project was approximately $600,000, including the $232,477 estimated value of the cottages donated by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. The Fuller Center invested more than $350,000 in the project, which included a $45,000 loan from GLCEDF and grants and donations from local foundations, businesses, and individuals.
The Work Still to be Done
The Baptist Town Cottages are part of the larger Baptist Town Neighborhood Investment (BTNI) project, a collaboration involving GLCEDF, the Fuller Center, and other local organizations. Partners in BTNI, with significant funding from the Walton Family Foundation, have invested in public spaces, improved the walkability and visibility of streetscapes, and built a park designed by local youth. These smaller projects helped build community trust and overcome residents’ concerns about redevelopment promoted by nonresidents, says Roush-Elliott. After those projects were completed, residents became very supportive, she says, and actively helped complete the cottages. Residents now manage Baptist Town Community Development, a nonprofit that oversees the Baptist Town Community Center (which offers educational programs and health and fitness training), the community garden, and Baptist Town Day, an event held annually in October. Resident engagement is crucial to the long-term success of the remaining redevelopment projects — most importantly, installing the 15 remaining cottages.
A photography exhibit by four Mississippi State students highlighting the state’s distinctive modern architecture is being featured through Nov. 15 at the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson.
Displayed in the historic downtown building’s main hall, the images captured by current and just-graduated university architecture majors pay homage to a wealth of modern structures, some of which are in disrepair and danger of being demolished.
“The diversity of projects and range of work is the most fascinating part of the exhibit,” said May School of Architecture graduate David Lewis of Jackson. “From schools to homes, from Durant to Jackson, the exhibit expresses the breadth of the modern footprint in Mississippi.”
Along with Lewis, the exhibit represents the efforts of seniors Mary K. Sanders of Indian Springs, Ala., and Casey A. Walker of Brandon, along with Landon G. Kennedy of Clinton, a May cume laude School of Architecture graduate.
All are current or former members of the campus chapter of Tau Sigma Delta national honor society.
Assistant professor Jacob Gines provided guidance and also photographed one of the buildings for the project that debuted last year at MSU’s Giles Hall, home of the school and College of Architecture, Art and Design.
The trust and Mississippi Department of Archives and History are assisting with the exhibit.
“It was a privilege for our office to be able to provide seed funding for this entrepreneurial effort two years ago,” said Michael A. Berk, the school’s director and F. L. Crane Professor.
Observing that the exhibit “has truly taken on a life of its own,” Berk expressed hope that it “will continue to make the rounds in our state with future aspirations of a national exhibition down the road.”
Gines said both Lewis and Kennedy were instrumental in getting the exhibit into the Old Capitol Museum.
“With the exhibit being in my hometown of Jackson, it is very surreal to see my work up and having my friends and family go see the exhibit,” said Lewis. “It’s great to continue the conversation and education with folks from home.”
“The greatest satisfaction came by opening the eyes of other Mississippians about the importance of this modern movement within their own state,” added Kennedy. “Some people knew where some of these buildings were, but a lot did not, which was neat because it would often solicit a response of ‘oh I didn’t know that was in Mississippi.'”
Question and Answer with graduates David Lewis and Landon Kennedy
What is your favorite part of the exhibit? LK: My favorite part of the exhibit was getting to collaborate with, not only the school and the resources that the faculty brings, but also the ability to see a project emerge from something in the Giles gallery to traveling around the state. It’s a big deal to see projects, and in this case an exhibit, be appreciated outside of Giles. It really encourages current and future students in the School of Architecture to use the knowledge already gained in classes and apply them to work that can be appreciated outside of school.
What was a challenge you faced in putting together the exhibit? DL:The layout of the exhibit. Landon and I spent a lot of time evaluating and redesigning the layout of the photos. It was something that was modular in design, in order to adjust to each space it would be housed in. In a way, the layout reflects principles of modern architecture design.
LK: A challenge faced in putting the exhibit together was a sacrifice of time. Obviously, we did this project in our spare time (which is quite difficult to come by as an architecture major). But it was enjoyable spending the extra hours in studio assembling the pieces or printing images because we knew the work would be realized, whether in the Charley Norwood House or in the Old Capitol Museum.
How MSU/the School of Architecture prepared you to curate this exhibit? DL: MSU School of Architecture has helped us tremendously with this exhibit. First, they encouraged and enabled us to put together the exhibit. Then, they have continued to provide resources to make this exhibit continue to this day.
LK: The School of Architecture has prepared us to curate the exhibit by giving us the resources to find the information we needed and place the exhibit where it should go. The school also has taught me to put forth thought and time into a project to develop it into something that surprises you in the end. This exhibit has done just that.
A grant from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation will allow two state universities to collaboratively research business opportunities in the Mississippi Delta.
With the $73,395 award, Mississippi State University’s Carl Small Town Centerand the College of Business will partner with Delta State University’s Master of Business Administration program to determine if a “symbiotic district” is a feasible means for economic development in the Delta.
A symbiotic district involves a single site where businesses, community members and the building itself exchange products — such as garden vegetables, social services or cultural enrichment — and reuse their waste byproducts. The aim of this recycle-reuse collaborative is to create sustainable businesses and neighborhoods while helping the environment.
“Creating a symbiotic district in the Delta, where businesses will not only profit from their close economic relationship but also an ecological one, will provide a model for sustainable economic development throughout the state,” said John Poros, director of the Carl Small Town Center.
The grant also will fund a feasibility study in which MSU and Delta State MBA students, under the supervision of faculty outreach directors, will research possible business relationships in Delta communities for the project. Using those findings, the Carl Small Town Center’s national Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow, Emily Roush Elliott, will then work with students from MSU’s School of Architecture to recruit potential business partners and secure buildings and site locations.
“We are pleased to be a part of this project that could provide a model for economic development not only in the Delta region, but throughout the state,” said Sharon Oswald, dean of MSU’s College of Business. “This is a great collaboration with not only the College of Architecture, Art and Design, but also our colleagues at Delta State.”
Robert Hearin Sr., the Mississippi Valley Gas Co. chairman and chief executive officer who died in 1992, established the Hearin Foundation in his will. It primarily supports the state’s higher education institutions and economic development.
The Carl Small Town Center, a research center within MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design, is named for Fred E. Carl Jr., a major university benefactor who founded Viking Range Corp. For more information on the center, visit http://carlsmalltowncenter.org/.
Emily Turner, who was elected to serve as this year’s president of Mississippi State’s chapter of AIAS, approached the associate dean last semester about attending the annual convention, which works to develop future leaders in architecture by bringing together AIAS chapter leaders, AIAS Freedom By Design program leaders and emerging professionals.
“Freedom by Design was part of my campaign when I ran for president,” said Turner, who explained Freedom by Design to be an AIAS service project that uses student talent to help out the community. “Mississippi State AIAS has participated in the past, but it has been several years since we’ve had a project. And you have to attend Grassroots to host a Freedom by Design Project,” she added.
Turner said the associate dean, who serves as the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) Liaison to the AIAS Board, was excited about both the prospect of starting back Freedom by Design at MSU as well as students attending the national convention.
“The national convention is a huge opportunity for students to network and meet national board members,” said Hall, who helped prepare Turner and three other students for convention – Elizabeth Beuche, Rashida Momoh and Ben Webster.
While Turner attended the leadership workshops, Beuche, Momoh and Webster soaked up everything they could at Freedom by Design workshops – learning how to get started and what other schools have done in the past.
“Their projects were so fantastic,” said Momoh, who said other schools had done everything from large projects: community parks and full houses, to small projects: a bridge and a ramp for a house. “We got a lot of ideas and are currently in the process of looking for a client and a project.”
“We were also just really inspired by being with people who had such great ideas about how to improve the community,” said Momoh. “And we not only came home with ideas to help us improve our outside community through Freedom by Design but also the studio culture in Giles.”
The group came up with an idea to create a waste room where architecture students can store materials they are done with that can be re-used by others. If the project is a success, they hope to implement similar rooms across campus.
The students were also able to take advantage of their time in D.C. during the conference.
“It was great to go see the city,” said Momoh. “I think everyone needs to go to a conference like this, so they can get out and see the world and see what’s around you. It’s so important to be able to get out and see good architecture.”
All the students said they are making plans to attend the 2015 AIAS Forum in San Francisco on New Years and are planning to get more AIAS members to attend as well.
“I want everyone to get to experience this,” said Turner. “It was great meeting architecture students from across the country and realizing it’s one big collective experience – that you are not by yourself. And, I really enjoyed getting to know my classmates personally without the stress of school,” she added.
“And just seeing how motivated people were and how much they wanted to help you to become better with what you are already doing and make sure you are on a track of progression,” added Momoh. “The atmosphere was just fantastic!”
Additional MSU Involvement In addition to attending the national board meeting as (ACSA) Liaison, Hall was awarded an AIAS Legacy Citation; participated in a panel discussion, “Leadership: Working with Components and Administration;” organized a second meeting for AIAS faculty advisors and guests; and attended the AIA Gold Medal Exhibition reception.
2015-2016 MSU AIAS Officers: President: Emily Turner
Vice President: Zac White
Treasurer: Ben Webster
Secretary: Kelli Weiland
Event Coordinators: Hannah Hebinck and Lucas Posey
Public Relations: Zach Henry
New Member Involvement: Anna Belle Neville
2015-2016 Freedom by Design Board: Director: Rashidat Momoh
Project Manager: Yerix Morel
Fundraising Manager: Elizabeth Bueche
Public Relations/Historians: Ben Webster and Hannah Hebinck
Construction and Design Mentors: Professors John Poros and Leah Kemp
archimania’s Hattiloo Theatre received an Award of Excellence at AIA Tennessee’s 2015 Design Awards (photo via archimania.com)
(Via AIA Tennessee news release)
The Tennessee Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Tennessee) announced the 2015 Design Awards at a gala celebration during AIA Tennessee’s state convention in Knoxville, Tenn., last week. 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.
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.
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.”
The Memphis-based architecture firm, archimania, received 5 of the ten awards. Todd Walker, FIA is principal and a 1987 graduate of the MSU School of Architecture:
AWARD OF EXCELLENCE 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.
This is a great example of a super opportunistic project – one that embraced existing conditions and ran with them to transform the interiors. Take a second to look at the existing kitchen, attic, living room, and entry in particular.
Partial plans: lower level on left; upper level on right; existing below
Stair: we were completely wowed by this stair- A beautiful recladding of the existing stair
Kitchen bar: and a very clean material palette linking the primary spaces
Kitchen: Kitchen counter surface turns into a pocket over the stove.
Kitchen again: carefully crafted details at the counter and cabinets; ceiling
Bathroom: Impressed how they radically transformed the spaces through clean moves, and beautiful materials.
Attic: another example of taking an ordinary condition and making an extraordinary space
Attic detail: simple wood strips applied to the surface – relate to the wood used on the lower level
Final: Found a great balance of light and dark surfaces, bold graphic color and pattern, while creating a unique, intimately scaled space to hang out in
AWARD OF EXCELLENCE 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.
This project was a favorite for many reasons – one of them being the powerful impact that the color and material choices in the interiors make on the exterior
Existing conditions: started with long, shoe box spaces
Plan: developed a super clean, simple, clear diagram; working and meeting spaces of all scales from individual spaces to large gatherings and events in the gallery
Long desk: They utilized a minimal palette to connect the programs and announce shared surfaces and spaces; we noted how carrying simple material datums across element helped tie the different parts of the project together
Desk to enclosure: we were impressed by their cost-effective solutions
Panels: rolling panels provide privacy and also help keep space flexible
Carrying the datum across helps tie everything together
Yellow: Color is an ambient backdrop here AND, as noted in the exterior image, acts as a lure from the outside.
Kitchen: The yellow starts as a surface – a graphic element and then turns into a space
Final: Finally as an acrylic material for the shared spaces in the back of the gallery
AWARD OF EXCELLENCE 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.
We were very pleased to award this important project – providing an elegant new home to this theater company
Site plan: We saw this as great response to the corner condition of the city;
Diagrams and plans: We appreciated the strong massing diagram with a super-clean and clever plan; the circulation spine divides administrative spaces from the theater spaces and is anchored by the primary entrance on one end and a secondary entrance on the other
Building from main street: We found this to be an exceptionally elegant composition and building strategy;
Overhang: engaging the city; cantilevered entry canopy announcing the theaters in a dramatic way
Corten: Great choice of materials – liked the cor-ten detailing at windows
Details: Shingled siding gives scale and interest to otherwise opaque surfaces
Lobby: Simple use of sloped ceiling, continuity of block on the interior, strip of lighting along theaters to draw the public in
Small theater: cleverly shares back of house spaces with larger theater
Final: congratulations to this team – we were pleased to award this project that brought a powerful design solution to an important community organization
MERIT AWARD 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.
We were impressed by the effect that this small-scale insertion within an unused courtyard could have on the day to day life of the hospital
Site: It has a significant transformative impact on the experience of arriving and being at the hospital
Plan: Introducing a calm, comfortable, contemplative space at a hospital – a shared Zen-like space.
Construction: We saw this as an architectural space – designed through a landscape lens.
View (with before): Liked the scale of materials – the verticality of the bamboo – and were surprised by the materials – cor-ten on the ground; a simple palette of rich textures and materials
Views (3): The design brief noted that they were considering the addition of a future sculpture in the middle – over the storm grate –
Final: But we awarded it as it is – we didn’t see the need for the addition of a focal point of the space – that it felt complete to us.
MERIT AWARD 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.
Excited to see this project repurposing a flea market to house the afterschool program
Site: part of flea market, alley
Sign: hints at playful character and t he reuse of materials
Entry: Jury felt that this is a nice transformation – engaging the storefront with a small retail area
And the reorientation to the side alley is smart
Open/Closed view: The repurposed shelving becomes the “secret” door into the workshop beyond – we loved the hidden space and thought it spoke to the use of an elemental architectural condition – the threshold – to connect the users to the space
Workshop: wanted to acknowledge architects bringing their design skills to these types of projects for social / civic programs that will make a difference in the lives of many children
Shelves: support projects that looked for inventive solutions repurposing materials – supporting a social activism and a sustainable agenda – This is the kind of architecture we want to support.
Workshop: Very calm place for creativity.
Final: with modest means – the architects activate the space through a sustainable model – connecting to the community through the storefront.
Driving Positive Change through the Power of Design – The mission of AIA Tennessee is to shape the professional environment in Tennessee so that architects, clients, the building industry and the public at large understand and appreciate the value we bring to the community.