Springdale Church, Area of Little Rock Earn American Institute Of Architecture Awards

Springdale Church, Area of Little Rock Earn American Institute Of Architecture Awards
Marlon Blackwell, of Marlon Blackwell Architect in Fayetteville. (Michael Baxley)

Faculty and staff of the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas designed a pair of buildings that have been recognized by the American Institute of Architects.

The St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Springdale, designed by Fayetteville-based Marlon Blackwell Architect, won an Honor Award for Architecture, one of 11 awarded. Blackwell, Distinguished Professor and head of the architecture department at the UA, won his second AIA Honor Award.

An Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design was awarded to “Rock Street Pocket Housing,” a design by the University of Arkansas Community Design Center, an outreach program of the Fay Jones School. It was one of eight awarded. Fifth-year architecture students collaborated with staff on this project. This is the center’s 10th national AIA Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design.

AIA awards are recognized as the highest professional honors for architecture, urban design and interior design. The St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church and the Rock Street project were among 28 AIA awards granted this year. They were chosen from more than 700 submissions.

The St. Nicholas project, visible from Interstate 540, began as a metal shop building and was transformed into a sanctuary and fellowship hall. It’s features include a sky-lit tower that “pours red light down into the transition between the narthex and the sanctuary, giving worshippers a moment of pause before entering.” Also featured is a cross suspended on the western side of the tower which is backlit by the sun and the exterior of the building is made from box rib metal panels, common in local industrial buildings, while the interior finishes are kept simple.

Video: Click below to watch a video about the architecture of the church.

“This transformation of a humble former welding shop into an elegant work of religious architecture is an inspiring example for our profession and especially for small practitioners,” the jury noted. “The project makes the most with the least, displaying deep resource efficiency as an integral part of its design ethos – something more architects should be thinking about and practicing.”

Other honors received by the church include being named the World’s Best Civic and Community Building by the World Architecture Festival in 2011 and receiving a 2011 American Architecture Award and a 2012 AIA Small Project Award.

AIA jury members also had high praise for the Little Rock housing design project, which was prepared for the Downtown Little Rock Community Development Corp. and funded with grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the city of Little Rock. Jurors noted the individual house designs “admirably handled the double duty of negotiating fronts to the street and the communal space,” adding, “It is thorough, achievable, and detailed with a fresh design approach that is also supportive of the context.”

There are nine houses in the pocket neighborhood which are built around a shared space that includes a community lawn and playground, community gardens, a shared street and a low-impact development storm water management system. Each home costs approximately $100,000.

In addition to the AIA award, the houses were recognized with a Grand Award in the “On the Boards” category in the 2012 Residential Architect design awards program.

Other designers affiliated with the Fay Jones School recognized by AIA include: Olson Kundig Architects won an Honor Award for Architecture for Art Stable in Seattle and an Honor Award for Interior Architecture for the Charles Smith Wines Tasting Room and World Headquarters in Walla Walla, Wash. Kundig, principal and owner at Olson Kundig Architects in Seattle, was the 2010 John G. Williams Distinguished Visiting Professor for the school.

VJAA won two Honor Awards for Interior Architecture – for the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and Abbey Church Pavilion in Collegeville, Minn., and for Chicago Apartment. Vincent James and Jennifer Yoos, both principals at VJAA in Minneapolis, were the 2012 John G. Williams Distinguished Visiting Professors for the school.

Winning projects will be featured in an exhibition in Denver at the AIA convention in June. They’ll also be featured in Architect magazine.