Alabama Council AIA Announces 2018 Excellence in Design Award Winners


The Alabama Council of The American Institute of Architects (AIA) honored building projects as outstanding examples of architecture during the 2018 Excellence in Design Awards Dinner.  The awards ceremony was held at the Florentine in downtown Birmingham.  AIA Alabama President Nic Gray of Mobile presided over the event. 


The Alabama Council’s Excellence in Design Awards Program encourages excellence in architecture through the commentary of our colleagues.  From a group of 54 statewide entries, the jury awarded one Honor Award, three Awards of Merit, and two Honorable Mention Awards.  The jury also chose 3 Honorable Mention Awards from the 15 student entries.


This year, the jury was composed of architects from New York City, including Chair Eric Lagerberg, with CallisonRTKL, Ruchika Modi, Practice for Architecture & Urbanism, Starling Keene, NYC Department of Design & Construction and Joseph Tanney, Resolution: 4 Architecture.


2018 Excellence in Design Award Winners


Professional Design Awards


Honor Award

Project: Montgomery Interpretive Center

Architect: Chambless King Architects


The Montgomery Interpretive Center exists to commemorate the people, events, and route connected with the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March. It is the third in a line of three Interpretive Centers stretching from Selma to Montgomery. The project is located adjacent to the Alabama State University football stadium along a corner block that serves as a gateway into campus. The building will house a series of exhibition spaces by the National Park Service. A large covered porch creates exterior gathering space and entry into the building. The building form mimics the unique wedge shape of the site created by the stadium’s concourse while carving out a series of voids to create exterior space and delicate building elements. The site’s steep topography was navigated by setting the larger exhibit volume into the ground and terracing the ground plane along the main façade to the entry. The primary façade is designed to capture the spirit of the March through an 18’ tall limestone façade with a sandblasted relief pattern replicating a historic image of the event. The cedar wood soffit and louvered wall express the subtle voids and entry sequence of the building. Dark zinc is used to contrast the wood and stone and hold the strong line of the roof. Micro-perforated zinc panels are paired with wood louvers at the main entry porch to create a sense of enclosure while maintaining transparency. Exposed structure, angular white walls, and linear lighting express a more restrained interior to remain flexible for the anticipated exhibition design.


Merit Award

Project: Smile-a-Mile Place

Architect: CCR Architecture & Interiors


Smile-A-Mile, Alabama’s program for children with cancer, had outgrown their space and approached us to help build a home to host families outside the hospital. Smile-A-Mile Place was born out of a forgotten warehouse just a few blocks from Children’s of Alabama. A lounge on the upper floor provides direct views back to the hospital’s cancer unit – a visual connection for inhabitants of both buildings.  The renovation of the exterior is meant to be a vital contributor in Birmingham’s burgeoning Parkside District.  A future mural is planned. 


With a budget dependent on donations, expenditures were focused on spaces for the children.  In addition to 2,500 square feet of office space for the staff, the project includes 6,200 square feet of event space for interacting with the families. The spaces recall beloved moments the children spend together on Lake Martin, but provide them year-round and convenient access to the hospital. The families can gather in a circle at the Community Room with the dramatic backdrop of a sky-lit perforated metal monumental stair known as “The Mountain.” The Mountain recalls rock formations along the shores of Lake Martin while also providing a metaphorical challenge: a visual representation of the difficult path ahead and Smile-A-Mile’s help along the way.  Together with rooms for arts & crafts and exercising, a small stage built of reclaimed wood hosts karaoke contests.  For quieter moments, there are upholstered reading nooks for bunking in with family members, and a starry-lit meditation room for private contemplation.


Merit Award

Project: Dugas Residence

Architect: Hinson + Dagg Architects


Comprised of a center ridge and two converging valleys, the client’s property seemed to offer the smallest of buildable sites. However, the site’s most compelling features: a long view to the water possible only from a high vantage point and a bubbling stream in one of the two valleys, became the primary shaping conditions of the design.


Along the east side of the form, each primary space (Master Bedroom, Bath, Entry Foyer, Dining Porch, Living Room, and Screened Porch) are arrayed parallel to the stream and are enlivened by the sound of water falling down to the lake. The penultimate space, a vaulted screened porch, features a view to the lake in the distance.


The form of the home is expressed as a simple extruded gable, clad in red siding and supported by a heavy timber frame as it rises above the steep slope. Program elements that protrude from this form are clad in corrugated metal and exterior spaces that subtract are clad in clear finished Cypress. Each space that overlooks the stream features elements designed for dwelling: window seats, open porches, and screened porches. The interior materials mirror the simplicity of the exterior and feature cypress millwork and ceilings that rise and compress to articulate the spatial sequence.


Merit Award

Project: Factor 48 Residence

Architect: ArchitectureWorks


Factor 48 is the conversion of a competition horse training facility into a private residence and studio. New interior Living and Kitchen spaces were added on the ground floor work with an exterior courtyard, pool and gardens to create a strong indoor/outdoor relationship. Existing stalls were converted into a master suite on the ground floor. Natural light, the strongest design element, floods the main living spaces. Materials were concrete, wood, stone, steel and glass. 


Honorable Mention

Project: The Florentine

Architects: Williams Blackstock Architects


Before renovating this historic downtown Birmingham icon, The Florentine Building had fallen into extreme disrepair over the last 30 years. The beautiful interior of the building had been painted black and used as a nightclub, enduring extreme and almost irreparable interior damage. The first floor and mezzanine were originally designed as retail space. The second floor was originally designed as the grand and elaborate Club Florentine, which opened November 15th, 1926, and was billed as “The South’s Newest and Most Beautiful Dance Palace and Café”. A prominent Birmingham lawyer, who admired Italian Architecture, built the building as a romantic gesture for both his son and his admirer in early 1926 by Alabama architect D.O. Whilldin, with the capacity to add 10 more floors.


The guiding design principle throughout the redevelopment and renovation of the building was to return the building to its original grandeur, creating new life as a center for catered events and gatherings with a dynamic restaurant venue in the historic structure located in the heart of downtown.  The design opened up the building to the street with restored glazing and a more open, modern café visible at street level with exterior sidewalk dining. The second floor ballroom was restored to its original splendor as a ballroom to serve as a catering event space for weddings, community events and functions. The design restored the intricate plaster moldings, ceiling beams and central daylight in compliance with historic tax credit requirements.



Honorable Mention

Project: The Finley Center

Architects: Goodwyn Mills & Cawood


The multipurpose Finley Center is constructed on a site adjacent to the existing Hoover Metropolitan Baseball Stadium and is the first phase of the Hoover Sports & Events Complex masterplan. Designed and constructed on an accelerated and fixed schedule to open as the host site for the 2017 SEC Baseball Tournament FanFest, the facility is designed for flexibility for a multitude of uses with a focus on indoor sports and convention space. The building draws its folding angular geometries from the existing Met Stadium concrete stadium vernacular as well as other materials and colors. Use of building information modeling allowed design of the structure to house and operate retractable goals and partitions that supports 11 regulation-size basketball courts, 16 regulation-size volleyball courts and for the event space to be divided to accommodate multiple events simultaneously. The 72,000 square foot floating maple athletic flooring in the event space can be entirely stored on an industrial high-density storage system reducing storage room size requirements. The event space can support 300 convention booths and theatre-style seating for 5,000. All lighting is LED and use of artificial lighting is reduced with use of natural lighting by way of translucent panel clerestories, fenestrations that surround the event and auxiliary spaces. The facility features training tenant space, flexible meeting rooms, a food court and kitchen that can serve a 2,000-person banquet and a climbing wall and obstacle space that is visible from the building front and the event space.


Student Design Awards


Honorable Mention

Project: Fashion Museum

Architects: Corey Thomas, Auburn University


Located in the entertainment district of Asakusa, Tokyo the museum is situated on the corner across from the Nakamise Market with close proximity to the Senso-Ji Temple. Across the adjacent street is Kengo Kuma’s iconic Culture and Tourism Center. This heavy traffic and tourist site presents several challenges due to its relative small footprint, historical landmarks, and surrounding iconic architecture.


Rather than competing with the surrounding architecture, the idea was to create a building with an outward focus. This creates a transparent museum that from the outside showcases its content but from the inside highlights its context. Being a fashion museum it is important for the building to be this transparent. Fashion is all about expression in the public eye, so the building on the corner site allows the interior to be displayed, unlike the typical museum type.


Japanese culture is heavily influenced by Shintoism, therefore strong connections with nature is prevalent throughout Japanese architecture. By shifting the building’s volumes, various views of the context become framed while providing and encouraging the use of exterior space on each floor. The shifting floor plates allows the building to connect to the context differently at each level and blurs the interior condition to the exterior.


Honorable Mention

Project: Social Voids

Architects: Will Mack, Auburn University


The main concept of the design is the use of the voids created by a series of common floor plan typologies (i.e. C plan, L plan, II plan) to form a series of covered courtyards arranged around a central void. These courtyards serve as a social hub for each floor. The central void creates a visual connection between the courtyards on each floor, thus connecting the residents from multiple floors together. Each of the ceilings covering the courtyards have a mural from a Mobile artist, Delvin Wilson. These murals create an individual identity for each of the floors but still resembling a set, tying the floors together with a splash of color reminiscent of old Mobile.


The ground floor is elevated to address the flooding issue that Mobile faces. After raising the ground floor, the curtain wall was pushed back creating a raised walkway, where the retail spaces can spill out into “the street” to better connect with the public.


Honorable Mention

Project: Ownership… Identity

Architects: Anna Marie Halepaska, Auburn University


As a City, Mobile, Alabama has an identity which needs to be reinforced. As Individuals, Users have identities which need to be supported.


Sited in downtown Mobile, this project allows individuals to mediate between those scales of identity by giving them agency at every level. It connects the individual to the city, giving them a sense of ownership of not only their unit but of Mobile itself.

Design Road Trip10-Mar-2018

AIA Alabama & Alabama Center For Architect.. Read More

Winners - Excellence in Design Awards10-Mar-2018

Alabama Council AIA Announces 2018 Excellence .. Read More

Excellence in Design - Awards Gala02-Feb-2018

The Florentine, Downtown Birmingham March 1st .. Read More

Student Design Awards29-Dec-2017

With the 2017 Student Design Awards as our fou.. Read More

HTC Program29-Nov-2017

.. Read More

Energy Code Training Seminar19-Sep-2017

Energy Code Training Friday, October 13, 2017 .. Read More

SAP Volunteers Needed06-Sep-2017

It is hurricane season and the gulf coast has alre.. Read More

AIA Medallions24-Jul-2017

We are very pleased to offer you an opportunit.. Read More

AIA Alabama Convention07-Jul-2017

Alabama Council Annual Meeting Royal Sonesta Hot.. Read More

Request for Proposal27-Jan-2017

January 27, 2017 From the Office of.. Read More

Design Awards 201715-Jan-2017

( Read More


October 7, 2016 From the Office of Juan de On.. Read More

Alabama Council AIA Medallion31-Aug-2016

We are very pleased to offer our leadership th.. Read More

Request for Qualifications- JT 15 Phase I Clinical Trials08-Dec-2015

December 8, 2015 From the Office of Juan de O.. Read More

JCHA Housing and Development Corp.RFQ 03-Dec-2015

The JCHA Housing and Development Corp. is seeking .. Read More

Architects’ Design and Health Research Consortium to Expand 20-Aug-2015

Architects’ Design and Health Research Conso.. Read More

Architectural Photography Workshop at Seaside06-Aug-2015

Click Here to View the Architectural Photography W.. Read More



Legislative Update31-May-2015

We are so appreciative of the architects who joine.. Read More