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KNOXVILLE — During the past 10 years, UT Knoxville architecture Associate Professor David Fox has led several groups in a housing project aimed at bringing long-term economic sustainability to neighborhoods in need of revitalization.

In the process, Fox has taught architecture students about sustainable design, work ethic and racial reconciliation. And his work has not gone unnoticed.

Fox has been named one of only two winners of the 2010-2011 Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) Diversity Achievement Award, which honors efforts to achieve greater diversity in curricula, school personnel, and student bodies.

Working at the crossroads of economic empowerment, environmental activism and architecture, Fox concentrates on making design and building processes as environmentally friendly as possible but is equally passionate about helping the disadvantaged.

“When you take people of limited means and put them in a nice home, you can change their lives and the community,” Fox said. “Homeowner equity is a great bootstrap for getting people out of poverty. If you combine this with building green, you change the community and ultimately the state.”

As a component of his work, Fox developed UPSIDE, the Urban Program in Sustainable Design Education. Starting a number of years ago in Chattanooga, Fox developed a strategy housing development that involved architecture students, local high school students and community foundations in designing and constructing homes with local families taking ownership in the neighborhood.

“David has accomplished much on behalf of underrepresented groups through his work in housing, education and community development,” said John McRae, dean of the College of Architecture and Design. “He is totally dedicated to strengthening the role and engagement of the African-American community in the economic and social spheres of society, and his passion and creative energy have imbued others with this same level of desire to support underrepresented groups.”

Through the UPSIDE program, Fox has joined UT architecture students and students at Austin East High School. The collaboration matches the art of sustainable architecture and design with the social, economic and political hopes of the community’s youth for a better future.

“UPSIDE is technological transfer and community engagement at their best, not only rebuilding blighted neighborhoods but igniting ambitions and expanding horizons,” said Rita Geier, an associate to the UT Knoxville chancellor who helps implement goals of the university’s diversity plan. “Dr. Fox demonstrates in an outstanding and creative manner the mutual benefits of service, research and teaching in developing capacity of diverse students to tackle major community needs.”

Fox also has served as the faculty mentor of the college’s National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS) chapter. Fox also received the UT Knoxville 2010 Hardy Liston Jr. Symbol of Hope for his work with the UPSIDE program. The award honors those who demonstrate commitment to diversity, multiculturalism and appreciating the differences of people and cultures on campus.

Fox will be presented with the award during ACSA’s annual meeting in early March in Montreal, Quebec. For more information about ACSA, visit

C O N T A C T :

Kristi Hintz (865-974-3993,