June 27, 2018 [Another] Award for Design/Build: Education Center Receives Regional Award

The multi-awarded Beardsley Farm Education Center, one of our design/build projects, has earned a regional design award.

In June, the project was recognized with an Award of Merit from the American Institute of Architects Gulf States Region during the National AIA Convention in New York City. The awards program identifies built works of distinction by architects from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

In all, 136 projects were entered in the awards competition, and 14 received recognition. The Beardsley Farm Education Center was the only winning project representing AIA East Tennessee and the only student-led design/build project receiving an award.

Led by professors Jennifer Akerman and Bob French, students and faculty designed and largely built the 1,200-square-foot education center at CAC Beardsley Community Farm, an urban farm that serves those in need in Knoxville.  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.

Jennifer Akerman Profile Picture

“This is wonderful recognition for our students, school, college and the farm,” said Akerman.  “It also celebrates the successful collaborative relationships we have, providing an experience that helps prepare students for their professional careers,” she said.

More than 50 students from all schools in the college collaborated with peers, professionals and farm officials from conception to construction. Throughout the process, they contributed coursework and service, designing and building a center to advance the farm’s mission to promote food security and sustainable agriculture through education and community outreach.

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.  The center was completed in 2016.

In recognizing the education center, the AIA Gulf States awards jury commented, “An opportunity for collaboration between students/public/client yielded exceptional results for the community.”

The project—a collaboration among the college, the City of Knoxville, the Public Building Authority, Elizabeth Eason Architects and Merit Construction—was supported by General Shale, AIAETN, Paulk and Co., Stonepeak Tile, Keene Building Products, Columbia Forest Products, Baird and Wilson, and many others.

Previously, the Education Center has also earned the 2017 Brick in Architecture Gold Award from the Brick Industry Association; the 2017 Tennessee AIA Design Award of Excellence; the 2016 Honor Award from the AIA East Tennessee and the organization’s 2016 People’s Choice Award and Member’s Choice award, decided by popular vote.  Also, Akerman and French received the 2016 ACSA Collaborative Practice Award for their role in the Beardsley Farm Education Center.

For more than 40 years, the design/build program has offered experience-learning opportunities to prepare students for careers in design. Through exploration, collaboration and mission-driven innovation, it applies design excellence, environmental performance and social responsibility to many challenges in the built environment to positively impact society.

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