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Francis Gassner Award

Sherry Bryan and Michael Hagge Honored with Francis Gassner Award

For release: June 2, 2011
For press information, contact Simone Notter Wilson (901) 678-41640

In April, Professors Sherry Bryan and Michael Hagge received the 2011 Francis Gassner Award, the most prestigious honor given by the Memphis chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Memphis) each year. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to Memphis' built environment and achievements in architectural practice, design, education, government, industry, historical preservation, literature, public services, research, urban design and service to the profession. It was established in 1977 to commemorate architect Francis P. Gassner, FAIA, who practiced in Memphis from the early 1950s until his death in 1977.  Past recipients include Joseph P. Hagan, AIA; Jim Lutz, AIA; Joseph ÒPittÓ Hyde, III; Henry Frank Ricks, Jr., AIA; Lee Askew, FAIA; Jack R. Tucker, Jr., FAIA; Henry M. Turley, Jr.; and Francis Mah, AIA.

 Bryan, director of the architecture program and interim director of the interior design program, and Hagge, chair of the Department of Architecture, received the award for their professional accomplishments and their leadership of the University's Department of Architecture. The department, which was established in the College of Communication and Fine Arts in 2008, offers graduate and undergraduate degrees in architecture and an undergraduate degree in interior design.

In architecture, students may pursue a pre-professional BFA degree with a major in Architecture and the Master of Architecture degree.  Together, these degrees make up the professional "4+2" curriculum. The M.Arch degree is scheduled to receive its accreditation visit from the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) in 2012. Students who graduated in 2010 and 2011 will benefit from the accreditation retroactively. In Interior Design, the department offers a professional BFA degree with a major in Interior Design, accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA).

"Before the Department of Architecture was established and we started the accreditation process with NAAB, Memphis was the largest city in the country without an accredited architecture program," says Richard Ranta, dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts. "Now, the program has approximately 120 undergraduate students and more than twenty graduate students, whose projects make an impact in this community."

In addition to growing the program into the Department of Architecture, Hagge and Bryan have established a tradition of community engagement and a reputation for sustainable design practices. The department's students solve real world problems that are crucial to understanding how cities grow and develop. Among the department's recent community partners are:  BRIDGES, USA; Door of Hope, Inc.; Victorian Village, Inc; Memphis Arts Park; Town of Henning, TN; City of Millington, TN; Center City Commission; City of Memphis and Memphis Fire Department; and the University of Memphis FedEx Institute of Technology.

"We have established a culture of engagement in the department in which each design studio from second year through sixth year has at least one project per semester with a community partner," Hagge says. "Architecture is a profession and professionals have an obligation to give back to society. Working on hands-on projects that impact the community is one way in which we can give back."

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