Sheila Leggett / 615.254.1233 /

Architects from the Gulf States Region of the American Institute of Architects gathered in New York City to celebrate the 2018 Honor Awards. Fourteen projects were recognized for their exceptional choices in lighting, materials, color and planes, sustainability, and overall design excellence. Respected jury members chose these projects from those entered by architects practicing in the Gulf States region. The Honor Awards program identifies built works of distinction, and strives to promote the excellent work by architects from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Ronald B. Blitch, FAIA, FACHA with Blitch Knevel Architects in New Orleans assembled an outstanding group of design professionals to jury the entries. Former AIA President George H. Miller, FAIA (former partner Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, Architects LLP) led the group as jury chair. Jennifer Sage, FAIA, LEED AP (Sage and Coombe Architects, NYC) and Robert Rogers, FAIA (Rogers Partners Architects + Urban Designers, NYC) completed the jury. The jury noted the wide variety of project types and styles, and commented on the strong work being done in the region. Together, they reviewed and selected the following 14 projects for recognition from the 136 entered in the program.


8th Street Market (Bentonville, AR)
Architect: Hufft (Bentonville, AR)
Program Statement: 8th Street Market is a 75,000 sf food hub that brings together food production, brewery, retail and restaurants with a culinary arts school. A renovation of a blighted Tyson Foods plant, the 8th Street Market is a 75,000sf food hub that brings together food production, brewery, retail and restaurants with a culinary arts school. The design creates a destination for the public catalyzed by increased interest in food production and an adjacent bike trail system. The main vehicles for the transformation are the Courtyard, Skylight, and Vine. The Courtyard is a new insertion that demarcates the brewery, establishes an entrance for the school, and creates 320 ft of storefront. The Skylight transforms an existing mechanical opening into a real estate asset. The Vine is a 580 ft shade structure that creates a covered band of activity. Inspired by a combination of traditional market typology and agricultural vernacular it provides opportunities for interaction while integrating site amenities. The perforations are an abstraction of Arkansas’ Buffalo River, designed with a local artist and fabricated by Zahner Metals.

Jury Comments:
• Thoughtful attention to materials in this adaptive reuse; intelligent response to a complex site; organizing principles are very clear.

Education Center at Beardsley Community Farm (Knoxville, TN)
Architect: Jennifer Akerman, UTK College of Architecture + Design / Elizabeth Eason Architects (Knoxville, TN)
Program Statement: Design-build teaching and learning is an innovative approach to educating architects and making architecture, with the potential to advance both the practice and the academy. Students and faculty worked in partnership with professionals and city officials to create an innovative public building for this non-profit urban farm.

Beardsley promotes food security and sustainable agriculture through education and community outreach. They have operated out of a public park in an economically-challenged urban neighborhood for 18+ years, making do with very limited resources. The Education Center includes interior spaces for multipurpose classroom, administrative offices, and restrooms. The design minimized the conditioned footprint to add sheltered exterior spaces serving as a welcome center, outdoor classroom, mudroom for vegetable processing, and a modest amphitheater addressing the park.

The design approach is characterized by a series of overlays and contrasts, just as Beardsley is itself a contrasting entity – a farm within the urban fabric. Ideas of the contemporary vernacular are situated at all scales: site, plan, and detail. The academically-driven design-build model allowed the project to be completed at a high level of design for minimal project funds on a construction schedule of only 10 months.

Jury Comments:
• An opportunity for collaboration between students/public/client, yielded exceptional results for the community.

The Orpheum Theater (New Orleans, LA) Architect: Eskew+Dumez+Ripple (New Orleans, LA)
Program Statement: Renovation and restoration of Albert Lansburgh’s Historic Orpheum Theatre home of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. The restoration of the theater, completed for the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, maintains the opulent visual environment and acoustic clarity of the space enjoyed by generations of Orleanians. The project included a complete reassessment of the theater as a venue to allow both stage presentation and use as a meeting space. The restored theater has a seating capacity of 1500 in the stage configuration and with the introduction of a pivot floor system can be transformed into a room with a level floor stretching from the Lobby to the rear wall of the stage for meetings, banquets and other functions with capacity for 2100 patrons. The updated facility also includes new suites with a private bar in the highest seating section and a newly restored entryway. Existing plaster walls, ceiling and decorations were preserved and restored to original colors and the previously unused basement was renovated into 15,000 square feet of new space that includes a private party space, a catering kitchen and offices.

Jury Comments:
• Cultural heritage respected; superb restoration to original format and finishes; excellent before/after images; very few modifications required to function today.

Green Trees Early Childhood Center / Isidore Newman School (New Orleans, LA)
Architect: Waggonner & Ball (New Orleans, LA)

Program Statement: The design challenge was to create a safe and welcoming center for early childhood education, one with a strong sense of place that would make young children aware of their environment and foster an understanding of the importance of both the individual and the community. The new early childhood facility is conceived as a streetscape of connected A-frame forms, a modern interpretation of vernacular shotgun-style architecture, blending seamlessly into the neighborhood’s historic fabric. To stimulate curiosity and collaboration in a safe learning environment, the new building is formed around a protected interior play yard and experienced as a village of individual and communal spaces linked by an outdoor covered porch and breezeway. The design employs a series of sustainable practices demonstrating environmental stewardship to the students and the community. Housing the school campus’s youngest population, infants to four-year-olds, interior spaces are seen as warm and welcoming extensions of a child’s home, with a clear point of entry and orientation, and child-sized furniture and fixtures throughout. Open and airy with high ceilings, the classrooms provide natural light and ventilation, a series of framed views into the garden, and a direct interface between inside and outside.

Jury Comments:
• Clarity of diagrams/context/process; enhances vernacular of the city.

The Marke at South Coast Metro (Santa Ana, CA)
Architect: COE Architecture International (Shreveport, LA)
Program Statement: This urban infill development mediates the scale differences of its context. With its bold forms, color, and articulated cladding elements it redefines multifamily housing design. This design is an inventive re-imagining of infill multi-family residential developments, distinguished by innovative land-planning and dramatic architecture. Located in a suburban office park re-zoned to allow mixed-uses, the design skillfully mediates the vast scale differences between the large office buildings and nearby single-family homes and allows for pedestrian passages through the site, threading together the disparate neighborhood. The strong building forms are varied in height, length and shape and further enlivened with bold color, pattern and texture. Containing 300 market-rate apartment units in three buildings on a 4-acre site in Santa Ana, California, the project features a one-acre amenity deck on top of a 5-story parking garage, as well as large courtyards and lush landscaping at ground level. Unapologetic of its scale, color and Modernist roots, the development is filled with amenities on par with high-end boutique hotels. Providing social gathering spaces and activities that bind the community together, the design of the Marke redefines Southern California apartment life.

Jury Comments:
• Smart planning to blend residential/public/parking; distinctive identify and development of neighborhoods and public spaces.

Sullivan Branding (Memphis, TN)
Architect: archimania (Memphis, TN)
Program Statement: An advertising agency required a new home. Focused on ideas with a strong identity, they wanted to express their brand and culture within their new workspace. Located in a historic office tower Downtown, the leased space is broken into two distinct pieces by the building’s lobby. On the larger side, the space was populated only by the original bell-capital concrete columns. The account staff’s workspace in the smaller section was the former Memphis Redbirds Store and came with many prominent architectural features. The decision was made to leave the existing forms to save cost. Within the framework of these disconnected volumes, we inserted layers of space-defining elements inspired by the brand, identity, and goals of the agency. Programmatically, two open office spaces were required. To promote collaboration and camaraderie, simple and inexpensive communal desks with veneered plywood details delineating individual workstations are built-in, bringing a natural grain into the spaces. A red plane of painted drywall housing support spaces weaves throughout the office, connecting both spaces. This element is tempered by two faceted volumes/pods, housing smaller private meeting areas. Each pod, wrapped in the agency’s work with massive vinyl graphic collages, is placed to divide the open space and serves as a focal point in the workspaces and from the street. Monumental collaboration tables inhabit the spaces between as informal, impromptu meeting spaces. All four elements- the communal desks, the red plane, collaboration tables, and the faceted graphic volumes – work to provide an invigorating, adaptable workplace for a growing company.

Jury Comments:
• The red walls and soffits serve as spatial cues and an organizing principle of how space is used – in an inventive and ‘plastic’ way.


Hillside Rock (Fayetteville, AR)
Architect: SILO AR+D (Fayetteville, AR)
Program Statement: THE HILLSIDE ROCK is an architect led design-build single family house located on Mount Sequoyah in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Like a mineral, the architecture of Hillside Rock emerges from interactions with its environment; an abstract outcropping situated within a lush forest. Located on a dramatically sloping site in the Ozark Mountains of Fayetteville Arkansas, the clients desired a home that would take advantage of the unique qualities of wooded enclosure and mountainous expanse the location offered. The crystalline form is shaped in response to the desire to provide distinct views and experiences from each main living space. Three separate terraces are carved from an otherwise solid volume, each with a different perspective of the environment. The textured white envelope becomes a canvas that catches shadows from the surrounding landscape, revealing in its surface the complexity of forms that abound on the site while registering the changing character of light throughout the day. Instead of scattering small windows indifferently on all sides, the façade’s openings are choreographed to create singular connections to the land at different scales. The interior’s split-level organization is tuned to the hillside slope, animating an ever changing section of cascading and nested spaces. A central wooden stair stitches together an intricate spatial section that transitions from a concrete base into sculpted white volumes whose scale mimics the immediate exterior environment, capturing the alternating exposure and enclosure found on the original untouched site. Finishes enhance the volumetric quality of the interior space to create a demure backdrop to the vivid colors in natural vistas that transform throughout the seasons.

Jury Comments:
• Simple and sculptural; sited to maximize views; very comfortable on site; and favorite resolution of a garage door.

University of Arkansas Art + Design District: Sculpture Studio (Fayetteville, AR)
Architect: modus studio (Fayetteville, AR) & el dorado inc
Program Statement: The University of Arkansas Sculpture Studio is the beginning of a new campus district. An existing warehouse becomes a stark, simple form transcending humble origins. The University of Arkansas Art + Design District Sculpture Studio is the first and defining building for a new remote district of campus located in a 3.8-acre former industrial brownfield in south Fayetteville. An existing warehouse is transformed into a stark and simple form, yet housing complex, technical programming. The existing frame is made efficient by introducing a second floor within the volume. The bright palette, purposeful use of daylight, and sophisticated spaces for crafting various media are underscored by the use of plan and section to interconnect students between studios and galleries. The 33,000 square foot program houses well-lit studio space, generous corridors providing ample critique space, and durable walls designed to accommodate student work. The lighting is efficient and flexible. The environments are designed to serve as a neutral backdrop to art. The project resides along the Tsa-La-Gi trail, part of an expansive green network, linking the communities of Northwest Arkansas. Being on the trail offers an opportunity to connect the Art Department, and eventually other departments, with the broader Fayetteville community in non-traditional ways. As the pioneering project in the new district, the building and site work collaboratively to allow proper access for material manipulation, manage hydrology, overcome brownfield conditions, and celebrate the emerging art community. The project connects students with cultural activities going on outside of the university. Through a process of select renovation and careful addition, the result transcends its humble origins, setting the tone for an ambitious new district beyond the traditional campus.

Jury Comments:
• How better to honor sculpture than with a playful use of light; strong sense of materiality; not overdesigned.

AOS Corporate Headquarters (New Orleans, LA)
Architect: Eskew+Dumez+Ripple | VergesRome Architects (New Orleans, LA)
Program Statement: Situated in downtown New Orleans, AOS (Associated Office Systems) expanded and renovated their offices to a sleek and modern workplace showroom. The project design encompassed approximately 7,000 SF of renovation with an expansion of 3,000 SF. As a furniture dealer, AOS needed a space to reflect their trade and appeal to the various clients they serve. It was very important to the client to reflect a design that was beautiful, functional, and comfortable to their employees. The space has transformed from predominately red and black to white and lighter colors, enhanced by the building’s expansive windows flooding natural light into the space.
The project utilized the DIRTT (Doing It Right This Time), a custom pre-fabricated system, throughout the space. This allowed the total construction to be complete in only 6 weeks. The layout consists of an open office with workstations displaying the latest trends of the manufacturers they represent, conference rooms of various sizes to fit their specific needs, and phone rooms. A fully equipped Java Center showcases the DIRTT millwork capabilities and an open lounge area displays various furniture pieces in a space that can be transformed for large meetings, presentations, yoga, training, events, and more.

Jury Comments:
• Simplicity and clarity in layout and use of materials; clear guiding ideas of materials/space/color; judicious use of color and planes.

Crosstown Concourse (Memphis, TN)
Architect: Looney Ricks Kiss in association with DIALOG (Memphis, TN)
Program Statement: The goal was to transform an abandoned Sears distribution center, built in 1927, into a 1.3-million-square-foot “vertical urban village” integrated with arts, education, and wellness/health. This project is the metamorphosis of urban blight into a vibrant community. It is the rebirth of not just a building, but an entire neighborhood. Though initially conceived as a home for a small start-up arts organization with plans to organically revive the structure over decades, the project evolved into a 1.3- million-square-foot “vertical urban village.” Rooted in historical context and flourishing on the ideals of common purpose, social transformation, and inclusivity, the building has achieved full occupancy in less than one year. Constructed as a Sears Distribution Center in 1927, the building grew into a major economic engine. However, by 1983 it sat abandoned, indicative of the modern trend of disposability and urban disinvestment. Through a meticulous and collaborative design process, the redevelopment has rekindled the building, as well as reinstated a sense of civic pride. The blend of retail, restaurants, fitness, health, educational and professional spaces, in addition to market-rate housing, works in unison to create a new community paradigm. Cost conscious architectural extractions and insertions have produced a vibrant new community that encourages discovery. Infused with the spirit of the building’s historic distribution system, seven new atria and their corresponding street-like corridors, transport natural light into public spaces. These reimagined spaces inspire participation and collaboration, catalyzing a community movement that challenges the concept of impossibility.

Jury Comments:
• Sophisticated expression of a complex program; clear expression of public space in compositional gestures; successful on many levels; intervention of elements that ensured success; detailing of atrium excellent; and excellent reuse and reimagining of large commercial spaces; best sustainability is reuse of an existing structure.

Ballet Memphis (Memphis, TN)
Architect: archimania (Memphis, TN)
Program Statement: A nationally acclaimed professional ballet company wished to move from a suburban location to a performing-arts district undergoing revitalization in Memphis. The new, civic-oriented facility is an extension of the Company’s mission. With large windows and public courtyards, the building contributes to the already thriving urban district. Formerly a hotel with parking in the front, the new site design inverts the original scheme. The building is designed to engage the public in movement, culture, and connection to the community. It houses rehearsal space for the professional company, a dance school for over 200 children, and community dance and pilates classes. The largest rehearsal studio also doubles as a performance venue. The copper screen sits at the historic street edge—enhancing the urban experience within an entertainment district—while complying with current city codes and setbacks. The building’s façade offers opportunities for the community to participate in the organization, via exterior courtyards, retail experiences, and a café, and a costume shop featuring a display window/mini-performance place. The courtyard spaces offer opportunities for the community to engage with the school, and also break the scale of the large building down to suit the context. The exterior form, composed of layers of glass, perforated copper, and volumes of contrasting metal evokes the character of a music box. Gauzy screens and courtyards that penetrate the building mass both mask and reveal the activity of dancers within. Warm and neutral materials alongside cool colors are also used to frame and display activity and the dancers. Dance and architecture share a focus on movement, space, and time. Celebrating these disciplines, through this civic project, enhances its growing entertainment district and the adjacent residential neighborhoods.

Jury Comments:

• Holds the corner well and meets the sky beautifully; show that it’s okay to be lyrical and rationalist at the same time.


John S. Preston House Renovation & Addition (Shreveport, LA)
Architect: COE Architecture International (Shreveport, LA)
Program Statement: The project encompasses the restoration and additions to one of the most significant early residential examples of European-influenced Modern Architecture in the Southern United States. Designed in 1934 by noted Shreveport architect William Wiener Sr., the John S. Preston Residence is the first house Wiener designed in the modern idiom after his 1927 tour of Europe to study the progressive work of Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier. Located in the Highlands, the aesthetic of the house is radically different from traditional houses in the area. The unadorned white cubic form, asymmetrical façade, flat roof, and expressive corner windows are modernist elements that strongly identify the building’s European heritage. However, the floor plan of the 1-bedroom house was a conventional collection of rooms and did not reflect the primary tenet of modernism, the Free Plan. Due to neglect the house is in an advanced stage of deterioration. The project’s two major goals are a faithful restoration of the facades to their original appearance, and the respectful addition of new program components to enhance the house’s livability and ensure its longevity. After careful analysis, cues from the plan geometry and form of the original house informed the distribution and design of the additions, which include a master suite, porch, tandem garage and a 3-story studio. These additions are faced in vertical cladding to make clear the distinction between them and the horizontal clapboard of the original. The floor plan of the original house has been reorganized as a “Free Plan”.
Jury Comments:
• Exceptional renovation and addition respecting the original structure; breathed new life and energy without compromise; appreciation of restraint in this sensitive addition; masterful combination of old and new construction; hard to tell there was an intervention.

Dogwoodtrot House (Fayetteville, AR)
Architect: modus studio (Fayetteville, AR)
Program Statement: Dogwoodtrot represents a synthesis of the vernacular typology of a dogtrot house and the woodland hillside to create a modern model for a suburban home. The Dogwoodtrot House is aptly named as a synthesis of the strong vernacular typology of a dogtrot house and the woodland hillside site to create a modern model for a suburban home located within Dogwood Canyon in northwest Fayetteville, Arkansas. The home denies the traditional typology of the surrounding context and instead creates useful, purposeful, and poetic spaces that capture the dynamics of the site while clearly organizing important interior and exterior spaces for the large family rendered in a simple, warm, and elegant palette. The heavily sloped site embraces two embedded wings of brick and glass with a playful mass timber bridge clad in vertical redwood spanning across. The redwood wraps the underbelly of the bridge and is the tableau for a constructed ‘constellation’ of ephemeral lighting that creates an inviting entry terrace to channel prevailing winds, receive one to the home, and frame views to the ravine and hillside beyond. The project is purposefully designed so the daily experience of arriving home (day or night) is an equally welcoming experience to that of the occasional visitor, a stark
contrast to the overly-formal and rarely-used front door and foyer that defines the traditional typology of the neighborhood.

Jury Comments:
• A new interpretation of the ‘dog-trot’ genre; carefully crafted details and a restraint and control of materials; playfulness in lighting.

Shelby Farms Park (Memphis, TN)
Architect: Marlon Blackwell Architects (Fayetteville, AR)
Program Statement: The buildings of Shelby Farms Park draw upon the local vernacular balanced with abstract figuration to frame the experiences of the revitalized Park landscape. Located in Memphis, Tennessee, Shelby Farms Park, one of the largest urban parks in the country, has implemented a master plan to transform the extraordinarily diverse, 4,500 acre landscape into a nationally renowned, 21st century landmark. The first phase of this visionary project is now complete. Imagined as the “Heart of the Park,” an ensemble of buildings and structures merge with the site to create an active landscape around the 80-acre Hyde Lake. The buildings vary in form and function but unite around the simple southern experience of the porch, providing both prospect across the landscape and refuge from the elements. Both passive and active sustainable strategies are used to maximize building performance: deep overhangs provide shade from the intense Memphis sun while the primary buildings make use a geothermal loop in the lakebed to operate a high-efficiency geothermal system, minimizing energy use year-round. The ensemble of figures share a reductive material palette of local cypress, metal panels, and aluminum bar grate, balancing the natural and industrial history of the place. Centrally located, the Visitor Center creates a new iconic image for the reformed landscape. The building acts as the nerve center of the Park, serving as a hub and point of arrival for visitors. At the east end of the lake, the Restaurant and Event Center with a deep-set porch and low-slung roof is an economic and social catalyst for the Park. Together, the Pavilions – an Event Stage, Boat House, and two Lakeside Picnic Pavilions – contribute to the revitalized landscape at the Heart of the Park.

Jury Comments:
• A delightful collection; excellent modeling of materials; a deft handling of simple forms; an exceptional collection of elements in the landscape that all speak to each other.

The Honor Awards were presented at the AIA Gulf States Region reception in New York City in conjunction with AIA’s ‘18 Conference on Architecture.

More Information, contact: Sheila Leggett /AIA Gulf States Region/615-254-1233/