Fay Jones School Faculty, Alumni Honored in 2021 AIA Arkansas Virtual Awards Program

The Thaden School Bike Barn in Bentonville received a 2021 Honor Award from AIA Arkansas, the Arkansas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
Timothy Hursley

The Thaden School Bike Barn in Bentonville received a 2021 Honor Award from AIA Arkansas, the Arkansas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Faculty and alumni of the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the University of Arkansas were recently recognized with awards handed out by the Arkansas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Design awards and other honors were announced on Oct. 21 during the 2021 AIA Arkansas Virtual Design Awards ceremony. Projects by Fay Jones School faculty and alumni won three Honor Awards and four Merit Awards in the Design Awards program — plus the People's Choice and the Members' Choice Awards. This year, 40 design entries were submitted by member firms, and the jury selected the winners from eight finalists.

In addition, Peter MacKeith, dean of the Fay Jones School, received the Award of Merit; Amanda Sturgell (B.Arch. '09), AIA, senior associate and licensed architect at Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects in Little Rock, was named the 2021 Emerging Professional; and Brandon Bibby (B.Arch. '14), AIA, NOMA, NCARB, WELL AP, architect with MASS Design Group, received the Diversity Award.

The design Honor Awards were given for the Thaden School Bike Barn in Bentonville, designed by Marlon Blackwell Architects; the Red Barn in Bentonville, designed by Modus Studio; and The Meteor in Bentonville, designed by Hufft.

Tapping into an expanding cycling culture in the region, the Bike Barn is integrated into a network of pedestrian pathways that connect the Thaden School to a larger system of trails that extend throughout Northwest Arkansas. Starting with the profile of a gambrel barn, the Bike Barn reconfigures that profile to create maximum flexibility for a variety of sports, including volleyball, basketball and cycling, while also providing bike storage and support facilities.

The Bike Barn project team included Marlon Blackwell, Meryati Johari Blackwell and Josh Matthews (B.Arch. '11). Blackwell, FAIA, is a Distinguished Professor and the E. Fay Jones Chair in Architecture in the Fay Jones School.

The Red Barn is a carefully crafted "agrihood" with a blend of townhomes and flats that are designed with ample outdoor spaces to enrich experiencing the agriculture that is produced on site, creating a strong live, work and play community. This project celebrates the agricultural DNA of Northwest Arkansas by following a few key sustainable ideals of conservation planning principles, preserving state-significant soils while retaining and enhancing heritage fields, leveraging agriculture as a community-building amenity, continuing the city's dedication to trail connectivity and living the "Arkansas lifestyle."

The Red Barn project team included Chris Baribeau (B.Arch. '03), Cory Amos (B.Arch. '09), Jody Verser (B.Arch. '10), Daniel Aros, Graham Patterson (B.Arch. '11) and Philip Rusk (B.Arch. '14).

Designed with cycling and coffee lovers in mind, The Meteor's space is honest and raw. The design process began with a simple existing metal shed, which was carved into with new windows, opening the building up to the community. A custom perforated metal screen notates the front entry and also connects the exterior of the café and bike shop. Custom-designed café tables and chairs speak to the same design elements that make the space — raw material, brand colors and geometric shapes to bring a funky edge.

The Meteor project team included Brad Kinsley and Erica Blansit (B.Arch. '12).

The design Merit Awards were given to Hobbs State Park Trail Structures in Rogers, designed by Hufft; the Sue Walk Burnett Journalism and Student Media Center in Fayetteville, designed by MAHG Architecture; Tanglewood Cabin in Rogers, designed by Marlon Blackwell Architects; the ASC ARTS x3 in Pine Bluff, designed by AMR Architects; and the Willis Residence in Fayetteville, designed by DEMX Architecture.

The prominent site of the Sue Walk Burnett Journalism and Student Media Center on the U of A campus places the student run UATV on display. An angled glass aperture breaks the broadcast's "fourth wall," allowing visitors to observe activities within, while framing camera views of the historic campus beyond. The addition's form is intentionally spare, contrasting with its surrounding historic neighbors, but with a nod to their slate roof shingles.

The project team included Galen Hunter (B.Arch. '83), Travis Bartlett (B.Arch. '95), the late Michael Lejong (B.Arch. '96), Nathaniel Deason, Andrew Wells, Jason Hainline and Joey Hamm (B.Arch. '14).

Tanglewood Cabin is a stoic mass in the landscape, with a restrained material palette and strategically composed openings, mainly directed toward Beaver Lake. The cabin draws inspiration from the dogtrot typology, arraying the interior family functions around a central porch, forming a "U" shape. The sides and rear of the cabin are clad in locally sourced cypress with a charred finish, providing a durable, low-maintenance exterior for the remote cabin. The roof and remaining face that overlooks the lake are clad in metal panels that recall the sheen and quality of light from the water below.

The project team included Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, Meryati Johari Blackwell, Justin Hershberger and Spencer Curtis (B.Arch. '14).

When the Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas (ASC) first considered expanding, they looked at it through an ambitious lens of how to honor the past legacy of downtown Pine Bluff, the history of the building, and the origin story of their own organization. The ARTSpace on Main, ART Works on Main, and the ARTS Yard rise to these challenges and together make up the ASC ARTS x3. The ART Works building is connected both internally and externally to the ARTSpace and the ARTS Yard to allow all three elements to work together and reconfigure as needed, allowing the downtown to have a 24/7 space for community engagement.

The project team included Jonathan Opitz (B.Arch. '02), Heather Davis, James Sullivan (B.Arch. '07), David Cowan (B.Arch. '73), Kyle Heflin (B.Arch. '15), Kate East and Caroline Smith.

The single-family Willis Residence, sited outside the eastern limits of Fayetteville, sits perpendicular to a gentle slope between two converging swales and overlooks a small pond on the south end of the property. The home presents a reserved face to the street composed of clerestory windows and select screening elements that dissolve the austere elevation near the edges. All the primary spaces spill onto an exterior balcony of some form, giving the owner and guests direct access to the surrounding landscape, views and natural light.

The project team included Tim Maddox (B.Arch. '02) and Seth Spradlin (B.Arch. '15). 

The People's Choice Award, which is voted on by members of the public, was given to The Grumpy Rabbit American Eatery in Lonoke, designed by Ryan Biles Architect. The project team included Ryan Biles (B.Arch. '03), Natalie Biles (B.I.D. '04), Stacey Breezel, Brantley Snipes, Will Staley and Sarah Melby.

The Members' Choice Award, which is selected by the AIA Arkansas membership, went to Little Rock Southwest High School, designed by Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects. The project team included Wesley Walls (B.Arch. '92), David Porter (B.Arch. '82), Sarah Bennings (B.Arch. '04), Mandy Breckenridge (B.Arch. '04), Cindy Pruitt (B.Arch. '95), Toni Wyre, Mollie Alvarez (B.I.D. '17) and David Rogers (B.Arch. '91).

Peter MacKeith was honored with the Award of Merit by AIA Arkansas. The award recognizes an individual, public official, member of any allied profession, public agency or company that, through interest, activity and concern with the profession of architecture, has advanced the cause of good planning and design and/or contributed to the dignity and value of the architectural profession.

MacKeith is a nationally recognized design educator and administrator. During his leadership since 2014, the Fay Jones School has grown significantly in student enrollment, retention and graduation outcomes, faculty appointments and accomplishments, curricular programs, diversity initiatives, community engagements and outreach centers, external funded research, new facilities and financial resources. Previously, MacKeith served as associate dean, professor of architecture and associate curator for architecture and design at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis from 1999-2014. He also was director of the Master of Architecture — International Program at the Helsinki University of Technology Finland from 1995-1999, and he held previous academic and administrative appointments at the University of Virginia and Yale University. A 2020 Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council, MacKeith has been recognized twice by Design Intelligence as a "design educator of the year" (2017 and 2019) and twice by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture with national awards for "creative achievement in design education," for his design studio teaching and curatorial work. MacKeith serves as chair of the advisory committee for the Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program, a regional initiative of the Walton Family Foundation, and is a member of the editorial board of Places Journal for architecture, landscape architecture and urbanism. He is currently overseeing the completion of a $75 million capital campaign for the Fay Jones School, and guiding the design and construction of the Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation, a regional center for research and development of new wood products and new approaches in sustainable construction materials.

Amanda Sturgell was honored as the Emerging Professional for AIA Arkansas. The award is intended to recognize a new professional, practicing for 10 years or less, who has expanded the role of the architect through civic participation and professional mentorship.

Sturgell is a senior associate and licensed architect in Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects' Little Rock office. She was born and raised in Benton, Arkansas, and is a graduate of Bryant High School. She credits Bryant's engineering program and her grandfather, Robert Gregory, a carpenter, with fostering her early interest in design. She is a graduate of the Fay Jones School, and is a member of the AIA, currently serving on the AIA Arkansas Emerging Professionals Committee and serving as a chair of the AIA Arkansas Education Outreach Committee. She is a board member of the Arkansas STEM Coalition and Benton's Downtown Arts and Beautification Group, and she participates as a mentor in the AIA Merge Mentorship Program. Sturgell is passionate about design education and has participated in speaking programs with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Girls in Stem Event, Girls' State, the 2017 Alex Foundation Girls' Summer Camp, Bryant High School's engineering program, and multiple career orientation classes and career fairs. The Alex Foundation, led by executive director Angela Courtney, won the 2019 AIA Arkansas Diversity Award.

Brandon Bibby received the 2021 AIA Arkansas Diversity Award. This award recognizes an individual, public agency, organization or company for exemplary commitment and contributions to inclusiveness of the architectural profession and education in Arkansas.

Bibby is a 2021-22 Space and Society Fellow and architect with MASS Design Group. He is an artist and architect motivated by movement, culture and familiarity in contemporary southern space who is questioning representation and access to equitable and quality design in the built environment. He continuously strives to merge his passion for choreography with architecture by utilizing visualization and narrating through movement and expression. He is a graduate of the Fay Jones School and the ninth African American architect to hold an active license to practice architecture in Arkansas. An award-winning professional for his leadership and community engagement, Bibby is a recipient of the Alpha Rho Chi Bronze Medal and was named to Arkansas Business' 20 in their 20s New Influential 2019 Class. He has lectured and moderated panels with the American Institute of Architects, Architecture and Design Network and AARP, and he currently serves as a Health Equity Advisor with the International Well Building Institute. His diverse portfolio includes design, programming and project management on more than 100 arts, educational, commercial and healthcare projects. His current work focuses on public memory and memorials at MASS Design Group, an architectural non-profit with the mission to research, build and advocate for architecture that promotes justice and human dignity.


Shawnya Lee Meyers, digital media specialist
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design
479-575-4744, slmeyers@uark.edu

Michelle Parks, director of communications
Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design
479-575-4704, mparks17@uark.edu


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