Professor Williamson Wins 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 will be presented to Professor Williamson in June at the AIA National Convention
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, Germantown, TN
Image courtesy of Jeffrey Jacobs Photography
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.
(l-r) Jennifer Barker, Michael Hagge, Jeremy Dollar, Megan Hoover, Matt Sihvonen,