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VOL. 131 | NO. 82 | Monday, April 25, 2016

Archimania Leads 2016 Architecture Awards

By Andy Meek

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Memphis architecture firm archimania was the biggest winner Saturday night at the 2016 AIA Memphis Design Awards, an annual bash that honors the city’s top architecture firms.

Memphis-based architecture firm archimania won an Honor Award of Excellence at the 2016 AIA Memphis Design Awards Saturday for its renovation of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Memphis.

(Hank Mardukas Photography)

Also singled out for honors by the four members of the design awards jury - which this year was comprised of nationally recognized, award-winning architects from Raleigh, N.C. - were the firms designshop, Haizlip Studio and Self+Tucker Architects as part of a joint venture with archimania. There were 11 winners in all, and the honors were presented during the event at Clark Tower’s Tower Center by the awards’ jury chair Erin Sterling Lewis of Raleigh’s in situ studio.

She said AIA Memphis features "a pool of rich design talent, vibrancy and deep affection for the community and built environment."

Projects were reviewed in the categories of new construction; renovation/restoration/rehabilitation; and interiors. The award scale ranged from the Honor Award of Excellence at the high end to the mid-level Merit Award and the lower level Citation.

“The projects recognized by the AIA Memphis Design Awards exemplify a large body of high quality and innovative work being produced by Memphis architectural firms,” said AIA Memphis executive director Heather Koury.

The winners included the 2016 event’s two Honor Award of Excellence projects - a renovation of Redeemer Presbyterian Church by archimania and a renovation of the Vasco A. Smith Jr. Administrative Building, which was a joint venture between archimania and Self +Tucker Architects.

The church renovation came as a result of the church buying a 1960s-era building in Midtown that once served as a shelter for battered women. The church had a modest budget, according to a project description, and the renovation project’s budget focused on the worship space and the building’s relationship to the street.

That meant features like a simple paint treatment on the outside and a new large window facing Cooper Ave. as a kind of welcome to passersby. Inside, abundant natural light is funneled to the congregation.

At the 12-story county government building Downtown, meanwhile, the focus was on modernizing the building to help provide a better work flow inside and to create an energy-efficient envelope.

Most of the construction funds went to things like ADA upgrades, new mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems, and a new high-performance exterior glazing system. Inside, there’s also new wayfinding for each floor and infrastructure for future office renovations.

The six merit award winners included:

The Scott Family Amazeum in Bentonville, Ark., for which Haizlip Studio was the architect of record. The project was for a discovery museum dedicated to family learning and play and included putting a 52,000-square-foot children’s museum on the campus of a new museum of American art.

archimania picked up another win for its work on Central Animal Hospital, which had outgrown an existing facility and wanted to build a new facility on land it owned behind its existing property. Bright colors, among other things, were used to liven up the facade and draw viewers into the site and to project a new image for a 50-year-old practice.

archimania also won for its work with The Consortium MMT on its Talent Development Complex - a Downtown space that provides the music industry nonprofit with a resource lobby for engaging the public and a recording space for musicians, engineers, and vocalists. 

designshop scored a win for its design of a house for a family of five in rural West Tennessee. The house is on a 1.1-acre lot and projects a contemporary architecture feel while also fitting within a small-town, neighborhood context.

The final two merit awards went to archimania for its work on a renovation for The Blues Foundation and on an infill project at an abandoned corner lot in the South Main neighborhood.

The Blues Foundation’s new home is across from the National Civil Rights Museum. A new canopy with its signage emanates a distinctive and appropriate blue glow, in addition to plenty of new features inside. There’s a rotating gallery and lobby space that can be transformed into an event space, for example, and large openings were carved into the south wall and building floor to, among other things, allow natural light into both levels.

The South Main infill project was for a developer who wanted to pursue something with a bit of flexibility that afforded the option to rent in case the units didn’t sell. Turns out, they all sold before construction was finished. The units include features like floor-to-ceiling glass and private patios.

archimania, finally, also picked up three Citation awards.

The firm’s winning projects included a flexible space designed for the Crosstown Arts organization meant for tutoring and writing workshops. It’s a story booth that sells books and other products from Crosstown Arts creative writing and after-school programs, and reconfigured industrial shelves from the Sears Crosstown building are used in the spaces.

archimania also designed a new outdoor performance space for Memphis Botanic Garden. Part of the design challenge there was to integrate it into the landscape of the botanic garden while accenting elements associated with the new space. 

The space includes a “living wall” that includes weathering steel columns and a flowering hedge as well as displaying unique plant species. Things like ticket booths, concessions, storage and recycling are some of the uses contained in a gateway at the north edge of the venue.

Finally, archimania took home a Citation award for its work with the Red Cross of Memphis on its renovation of a building for the organization. The enterprise needed an existing building renovated partly to keep pace with its growing outreach of volunteer training and disaster relief, and the new Medical District space also offered access to new resources and included room for future growth.

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