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Two Professors Awarded Strengthening Communities Grants

Two of the three Strengthening Communities Capacity Building Grants awarded in May were to faculty members in the Department of Architecture. 

Professor Michael Chisamore, Director of Interior Design and Director of the Center for Sustainable Design, received the $18,000 grant in partnership with the Normal Station Neighborhood Association.  Michael and students in the Department will work with the neighborhood association to envision the restoration of the Madison-Eckles Family Cemetery and a meditative greenspace for the property located in the neighborhood.  The team will also work with faculty in the Department of Earth Sciences to involve archaeology students to assist in identifying and mapping unmarked gravesites using remote sensing techniques. This project is also linked to research Michael is conducting in architectural representation, among other areas. 

Professor Jenna Thompson, Department of Architecture Sustainability Coordinator, received the $18,000 grant with community partner United Housing, Inc. (UHI).  Jennifer and students in the Department will work with UHI to design and construct a NeighborScape Demonstration Garden.  UHI is a non-profit organization that focuses on access to homeownership for low and moderate income homebuyers.  One of its main programs is Homebuyer Education.  This project builds on this educational component by providing participants the opportunity to take an optional module on lawn maintenance and vegetable gardening.  The project is closely linked to research Jenna is conducting on sustainability and sustainable design.

Strengthening Communities is an initiative of the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy and the Institute for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at the University of Memphis, the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, United Way of the Mid-South, and the Learning by Giving Foundation.  The grants support community-based projects that address economic development, education, health, housing, transportation, and safety issues. 

Professor Williamson Receives National AIA Award for Religious Architecture

Professor James F. Williamson, FAIA, has been selected as the 2014 recipient of the American Institute of Architects Edward S. Frey Award for career "contributions to religious architecture and support of the allied arts. "This national honor is given by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) / Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art, and Architecture (IFRAA) to an architect who has demonstrated " a passion for and dedication to quality worship and sacred spaces," including "fostering spiritual values and for promoting a cross-denominational community focused on religious arts and architecture."

The Edward S. Frey Memorial Award was established in 1981 by IFRAA, Inc. which later became a part of the AIA. Rev. Dr. Frey dedicated his life to his work as the Executive Director of the Commission on Church Architecture for the Lutheran Church of America. In that role he inspired architects to foster spiritual values in design. There have been only nine other recipients since 1981 (including Robert Durham, FAIA, Edward Larrabee Barnes, FAIA and Michael Crosbie, FAIA).

The award was presented to Professor Williamson in June at the AIA National Convention in Chicago.

His professional practice, which focuses on the design of religious architecture, has included both new and restored churches across the country. During some 30 years of practice as a principal in his own firm in Memphis, he received over 30 architectural design awards at the local, regional, and national levels. His work has been published internationally. In addition, his professional activities have included leadership in the Interfaith Forum on Religious Art and Architecture and the American Institute of Architects, as well as articles, lectures, films, and presentations on religious architecture for professional and community groups.

At the University of Memphis, Professor Williamson teaches design studio, history, theory, and professional practice at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. He regularly incorporates the study of religious architecture into his teaching through the assignment of religious buildings to the students in his design studios.

Professor Williamson holds two Master of Architecture degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a student of Louis Kahn. He was later an Associate with Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates in Philadelphia. In 2005 he was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in recognition of his notable contributions in architectural design and education.

Notable religious projects include the following:
Cathedral of The Immaculate Conception Renovation and Additions, Memphis, TN
Grace-St. Luke's Episcopal Church Restoration, Memphis, TN
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Memphis, TN
St. John's Episcopal Church Parish Activities Building, Memphis, TN
St. George's Episcopal Church, Germantown, TN
Interfaith Chapel, Eielson Air Force Base, Fairbanks, AK
Sacred Heart Cathedral Restoration and Additions, Rochester, NY
St. John's Episcopal Church, Johnson City, TN
St. Thomas More Catholic Church, Paducah, KY

St. George's Episcopal Church

St. George's Episcopal Church,  Germantown, TN
Image courtesy of Jeffrey Jacobs Photography



 Charter Members of Tau Sigma Delta Initiated 

The three charter members of the new Kappa Alpha Chapter of the Tau Sigma Delta Honor Society were initiated at the Halfway Soiree on Friday, 31 January. Faculty advisor Michael Hagge, with co-advisor Jennifer Barker and Dr. Richard R Ranta, Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts, presented the certificate of membership to Matt Sihvonen, Megan Hoover, and Jeremy Dollar.

Matt is a second year Master of Architecture student who also earned the BFA in Architecture at the University of Memphis. Megan is a first year M.Arch student and earned the BFA in Architecture and BFA in Interior Design degrees from the University of Memphis. Jeremy is a fourth year student in the BFA in Architecture degree program and plans to enter the M.Arch program in the fall.

Tau Sigma Delta (TSD) is the only national honor society for architecture and the allied arts in the USA. It was organized in 1913 at the University of Michigan by the faculty in Architecture and Landscape Design who selected the first group of fourth year honor students to be the founding members.

After expanding to other universities, Tau Sigma Delta developed from an honor society in Architecture and Landscape Architecture to become inclusive of upper level undergraduate and graduate students in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Architectural Engineering, City Planning, Interior Design, and Industrial Design. TSD is active in over 80 universities with an accredited program in Architecture.

The Kappa Alpha Chapter of Tau Sigma Delta was formed at the University of Memphis in 2013. Former President Shirley Raines, shortly before leaving office, submitted the formal petition for establishment of a chapter and soon thereafter, we were notified the petition had been approved.

Membership in Tau Sigma Delta is based on scholarly achievement. To be eligible a student must have completed five semesters in the appropriate professional degree or professional degree sequence (4+2), have an overall GPA of 3.5, and be in the top 20 percent of his/her class.

Members of the second class of TSD will be initiated at the Department of Architecture Awards Reception in May. These new members include fourth year BFA in Architecture student Katherine Nelson and fourth year BFA in Interior Design students Leigh Barker and SooMin Kim.  The spring initiation will also include newly-eligible third year BFA and M.Arch students.

 TSD Initiation Janaury 2014

(l-r) Jennifer Barker, Michael Hagge, Jeremy Dollar, Megan Hoover, Matt Sihvonen, Richard Ranta



"A Vision for a Twenty-First Century University:  Rethinking the Entry to the Administration Building" Design Competition Results

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