November 6, 2015 Red Bird Kiosk, Davis and Shell Honored by AIA


A design/build project and two distinguished educators from the College of Architecture and Design were honored at the 2015 American Institute of Architects East Tennessee design awards in October.  The design/build project earned a Design Award of Merit, and Professor Marleen Davis was presented with the 2015 Gold Medalist Award.  Additionally, ret. Professor Bill Shell received the organization’s Award of Merit.

The design/build project consisted of a water distribution structure that provides clean drinking water for 9,000 families in the Red Bird community of Clay County, Kentucky.  It was led by Professor John McRae, FAIA, and carried out by faculty and students from the College of Architecture and Design’s schools of Architecture, Interior Design and Landscape Architecture, as well as students from the UT colleges of Nursing and Engineering and the UT Law Enforcement Innovation Center.  Project manager was Michelle Bakewell.

The water kiosk was prefabricated over a three-month period in the College of Architecture and Design’s Fab Lab and constructed on site in Kentucky during a one-week period in spring 2015.  Merit Construction served as general contractor, and other firms supporting the effort include DJ Construction, Cannon+Cannon, Harrison Concrete, Paulk + Company, McAbee Hayes Consulting, Pop Fizz, Master Welder Rick Comer and Steve Loy providing safety and staging.

The structure, which was funded by a grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief and private donations, contains two water dispensers, a covered area for a farmer’s market and a cistern for rainwater collection for use in the adjacent greenhouse.

Comments from the awards jury about the Red Bird water kiosk include, “Laudable and impressive effort of students of varied disciplines collaborating to design and build, in a very short time, a place of real utility.  This is where design education shows how valuable it can be to solving community issues.  Very encouraging to see the [university’s] support for design/build projects.”

The AIA ET Gold Medal Award presented to Marleen Davis, FAIA, recognizes individuals of strong professional and moral character from the field of architecture.  Davis served as dean of the College of Architecture and Design from 1994-2003 and has served as a faculty member in the college for more than 20 years.  She has worked tirelessly to strengthen the profile and quality of architectural education while serving on the boards of many national professional organizations.  Locally, Davis has influenced campus master plans for UT and the Webb School of Knoxville and the civic vision for downtown Knoxville.  Click here for an AIA video featuring Davis, and for more information, visit


Bill Shell, recipient of the AIA ET Merit Award, retired from the College of Architecture and Design in 2010 after a distinguished instructional career spanning 41 years.  He dedicated his career to helping students understand the clarity and craft of architecture as a professional discipline.

In all, seven professionals or organizations were recognized at the annual AIA ET Design Awards Program, and demonstrating the impact of the UT College of Architecture and Design, all of this year’s award recipients are students, faculty or alumnae of the college.


In addition to the Red Bird water kiosk project, other juried design award recipients include

  • Category: Unbuilt: St. John’s Anglican Church in Franklin, Tenn.
  • Category: Renovation/Restoration:  Office and golf cart garage, Knoxville, Tenn.; and Seymour Tanner House, Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Category: Architectural Interiors: Kendrick Place Rowhouse, Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Category: New Construction:  Residential Pavilion, Knoxville, Tenn.; Norris Lake House, Sharps Chapel, Tenn.
  • People’s Choice Award: Contemporary Women’s Health medical office, Knoxville, Tenn.

The AIA ET Design Awards Program salutes excellence in architecture and seeks to honor built and unbuilt works of distinction designed by AIA members in East Tennessee. For details about the AIA ET, visit