October 16, 2019 School of Architecture Receives National AIA Innovation Award

Exploded view of aquatic center
Work by students, Rachel Albee, Aubrey Bader, Kari Essary and Maggie Redding, in Maged Guerguis’s ARCH363 studio

The American Institute of Architects has awarded a coveted AIA Innovation Award to an academic institution, the School of Architecture at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Architecture and Design. Most often awarded to architecture firms, the Innovation Award recognizes technologies and practices of architects and designers related to buildings or research in practice or academia.

The award recognizes the overhaul of the school’s curriculum that leads to a Bachelor of Architecture degree. This new educational paradigm could serve as a model for schools across the country as it integrates the content of stand-alone courses focused on technology into the design studio experience. This innovative, interrelated curriculum leverages and expands the college’s digital agenda and leads to a broader and more applicable design education.

“Our faculty created a new model for integrating building technology with design studio in ways that both anticipate the realities of integrated practice and meet design students where they are,” said Jason Young, director of the UT School of Architecture. “The new model uses team-taught, project-based modules to enliven and sustain content that has long lacked meaningful reinforcement in the studio. We’ve changed how and therefore why we teach building technology for the benefit of our students.”

Group of smiling students

The former model of stand-alone, lecture-based courses for topics such as structures, materials and methods, and environmental systems was abandoned in favor of a series of project-based modules that are taught with sequential and varying levels of overlap with the studio curriculum in the second, third and fourth years of the Bachelor of Architecture curriculum. The overhauled curriculum leads students to be able to reflect technology in their studio designs, which means a more comprehensive understanding of the complexities of design.

More than a dozen faculty members collaborated on the year-long project that eliminates silos, reinforces the college’s creative culture, recognizes diversity in faculty expertise, invents new teaching platforms, elevates experimentation in the design studios and increases collaboration across the school and college.

Congratulations to these faculty:

  • Katherine Ambroziak
  • Marleen Davis
  • Mark Dekay
  • Hansjoerg Goeritz
  • Maged Guerguis
  • Tracy Moir-McClean
  • William Miller
  • Marshall Prado
  • James Rose
  • Ted Shelton
  • Kevin Stevens
  • Tricia Stuth
  • Jason Young

“This is a complete overhaul of a university curriculum that achieved buy in from the entire faculty, created partnerships between classes and offered multiple perspectives in classes,” stated an award jury member.

The jury for the 2019 AIA Innovation Award consisted of professionals representing software, higher education, engineering, management, design and construction.

In all, six entities were recognized with the 2019 Innovation Award. The School of Architecture is the only educational institution to receive the award in the past four years.

Learn more about the School of Architecture at  Learn more about the UT College of Architecture and Design at

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Aquatic center suspension
Work by students, Arden Gillchrest, Brian Nachtrab, Haley Dennis and Kaela Roberts, in Maged Guerguis’s ARCH363 studio