September is Architecture Month in Memphis, and the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) is spearheading a series of tours, lectures, exhibits and special events that explore historic and contemporary architecture and design in Memphis.
“We always have a very full calendar during Architecture Month, with events for a variety of ages and interest groups,” said Heather Koury, executive director of AIA Memphis and its 240 members. “This year we are focusing on health and fitness, so we’ve incorporated bike tours and guided walking tours.”
Architecture Month was founded in 2004, and this year’s festivities also help celebrate AIA Memphis’ 60th anniversary. All events are designed for the general public.
“We are making our programs accessible financially and getting people out on the streets,” Koury said.
The annual AIA Memphis Golf Open was held at Colonial Country Club in Cordova last week.
Next up will be a photography exhibition at ANF Architects on Friday, Sept. 13, followed by a Midtown bike tour sponsored by Haizlip Studio on Sunday, Sept. 15.
The Memphis Camera Club will present “Memphis Architecture: A Walk Through History” at ANF Architects on Union Avenue on Friday. The exhibit was completed under the auspices of Christian Brothers University, which contacted the club in 2010 about doing a historical story of Memphis through photography of iconic buildings throughout the area.
“We utilized many buildings and places that are in the National Register of Historic Places,” said Joe Sullivan, exhibition chairman of the Memphis Camera Club. “This exhibit’s 60 color photographs were taken by 23 camera club members.”
The trip though Memphis history includes shots of the Nineteenth Century Club, Memphis Pink Palace Museum, the Arcade Restaurant, Elmwood Cemetery, Central High School, the cobblestone landing Downtown by the Mississippi River, the Memphis Queen, Rhodes College’s Halliburton Tower, the Snowden mansion, the Mid-South Coliseum, the Levitt Shell, the Lorraine Motel, the old air tower (before it was torn down) at Memphis International Airport, the carousel at the Mid-South Fairgrounds, and many others.
On Sunday, the nearly 10-mile Architect’s Bike Tour will highlight Midtown landmarks, with design commentary provided by experienced Memphis architects and designers.
This marks the second year that Haizlip Studios will head up the bike tours. Owners Mary and Reb Haizlip are avid cyclists, with Mary just completing the MS 150-mile biking event and Reb just returning from a biking event in Italy.
“The Downtown bike tour was a great hit last year, so we expanded this year to include Midtown,” said Mary Haizlip, whose design studio has operated in Midtown since 1997 and specializes in institutional projects such as museums and schools.
The new Midtown bike loop is part of a larger city loop designed by Haizlip that is detailed on AIA Memphis’ website, aiamemphis.org. Cyclists can pull up the route on their mobile devices to get details about each tour stop.
“We want to provide the general public with more information on Memphis architecture and its importance to our community,” Haizlip said.
The Midtown bike tour will be the first of two Sunday morning bike tours occurring during Architecture Month, with the second happening Downtown on Sept. 29.
All bike tours are limited to 15 people for safety reasons, and they are expected to sell out. Tickets are $15, and those interested are encouraged to sign up as early as possible at the AIA website to secure a spot.
On Sept. 21, a couple of prominent area architects will be serving as walking tour guides, with Keith Kays giving a Downtown building tour and Bill Ferguson of ANF Architects offering a tour of a variety of buildings near Overton Park as well as the park’s new playground. Local historian Jimmy Ogle will also be conducting a Court Square tour. The trio plans to offer in-depth analysis of each site.
“Not only will we be looking at the architecture of certain areas, we will also be looking at the history of each place,” Koury said.
Other events planned for the month include a two-day architectural photography workshop on Sept. 20-21 for architecture/photography professionals and students at the Art Museum at The University of Memphis, along with assorted special events such as lectures and cocktail receptions.
AIA Memphis is celebrating all month by giving away exclusive weekly prizes in its online building identification challenge, available on social media and the AIA Memphis website.