Despite hard times, there has been a whirlwind of activity in Memphis’ design community over the past year.
That’s the message Josh Flowers, general counsel at Hnedak Bobo Group Inc. and president of the Memphis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, gave Saturday, March 31, at the annual Celebration of Architecture Gala and 2012 Design Awards at Circuit Playhouse, 66 S. Cooper St.
“This has been an excellent year for the chapter,” Flowers said. “We’re wrapping up a very strong first quarter and there have been a lot of exciting things going on that have really raised the bar for all of the events that we do in Memphis.”
Last year, Memphis hosted the state AIA convention for the first time in 15 years. Flowers said that endeavor led to the Gulf States Region of AIA selecting Memphis as the location for its symposium for emerging professionals in June.
Those strides wouldn’t have been possible without the help of various AIA members who received Component Awards for their contributions. Brett Ragsdale, 2011 president of AIA and principal with brg3s architects, was honored with a Past President’s Service Award for continuing to grow the chapter in light of economic hardships.
Also honored for professional service with President’s Awards were Wendy Gross of Braganza Associates Architects and P. Jeanne Myers of Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects Inc.
Component Awards were given to nine newly licensed professionals: Myers, John David Caldwell of Fleming Associates, Michel Lebel of Allen & Hoshall, Tony Dai of Barge Waggoner Sumner and Cannon Inc., Kayce Williford Schrader of archimania, Jason Schrader of The Flintco Cos., Keith McDaniel of The ServiceMaster Co., Lon Alperin of Hilton Worldwide, and Brandon Yan-Hamby of Pickering Firm Inc.
The recipient of the prestigious Francis Gassner Award – presented by Reb Haizlip and Gretchen Gastner Turley – was Dr. Shirley C. Raines, president of the University of Memphis.
During her 11-year-tenure, Raines has led key building projects on campus including the new University Center, Honors residence hall, the FedEx Institute of Technology, the Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality and Resort Management, the Student Activities Plaza and fountain, the clock tower, University Services Building with new bookstore, the Athletic Training Facility, the renovation of Wilder Tower, and the relocation of the law school to the historic Downtown location.
“I think it’s very fitting to honor Dr. Raines in my father’s memory,” Turley said. “He believed that as an architect and a leader, it was his duty to design an environment that reflected the best society could create. How he would have loved to watch the campus transformation that has occurred at the university under the quiet, steadfast leadership of Dr. Raines.”
What’s more, working directly with the Department of Architecture, Raines supported the establishment of the new Master of Architecture professional degree, the new Downtown Studio, TERRA house, and Architecture + Design Living-Learning Community Houses.
“Our motto is dreamers, thinkers, doers,” Raines said. “I don’t know of a profession that epitomizes more our motto than yours. Thank you for your dreams, your creativity, being a great thinker and for working with us to do the things that help us to have a great university.”
Finally, the city’s top firms were honored for their contributions to excellence in design over the past year, presented by Randy Brown of the Fellow of the AIA and 2012 Jury Chair for the AIA Memphis Design Awards. Besides Brown, the jury was made up of Nebraska architects David Helm, Paul Nelson, Rainbow Rowell and Tom Trenolone.
“It took us eight hours to decide who the winners were going to be this year – that’s a pretty long time,” Brown said. “That’s because the quality of the work was just exceptional. I learned so much by seeing the breath of projects that are happening down here and was really blown away with the quality of the projects.”
Citation awards for new construction were presented to archimania for its Conservation Hall at the Tennessee Residence in Oak Hill, Tenn., and to Haizlip Studio for its City of Memphis Motor Vehicle Inspection Station.
Meanwhile, Merit awards were given to archimania for its new construction design of Woodbury Dermatology Clinic and Mercer Capital. Also, Clark/Dixon Architects received a Merit Award for its restoration of National Metal Museum Library.
“Most restoration/renovation projects loses the character, what the building was really about,” Brown said. “This project has such an authenticity to it, how all of the details that were restored.”
Finally, archimania received two Honor Award of Excellence awards, both in the new construction category, for SkyCottage and Memphis Veterinary Specialists. Brown said for the latter, the jury got the feeling the client and the architect worked together in a way that was total collaboration.
“Then we realized this is for dogs and cats – what an amazing level of thought went into this project,” Brown said.