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Red Bird projectA water kiosk project and two educators from the College of Architecture and Design were recently honored by the East Tennessee Chapter of the American Institute of Architects at its annual design awards program.

The water kiosk, a design/build project located in the Red Bird community of Clay County, Kentucky, earned a Design Award of Merit. Marleen Davis, Distinguished Professor of Architecture, was honored with the 2015 Gold Medalist Award, and retired UT architecture professor Bill Shell received the organization’s Award of Merit.

The water kiosk project involved designing and building a water distribution structure that provides clean drinking water for 9,000 families. It was led by John McRae, professor of architecture, and carried out by faculty and students from the college’s Schools of Architecture, Interior Design, and Landscape Architecture, as well as students from UT’s Colleges of Nursing and Engineering and UT’s Law Enforcement Innovation Center.

The water kiosk was fabricated over a three-month period in the college’s Fab Lab and constructed on site in Kentucky during a one-week period last spring.

The structure, which was funded by a grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and private donations, contains two water dispensers, a covered area for a farmer’s market and a cistern to collect rainwater for use in the adjacent greenhouse.

DavisThe East Tennessee AIA Gold Medal Award presented to Marleen Davis recognizes individuals of strong professional and moral character from the field of architecture. Davis served as dean of the college from 1994 to 2003 and has been on the UT faculty for more than twenty years. During her career, Davis has worked to strengthen the profile and quality of architectural education while serving on the boards of many national professional organizations. A popular educator, Davis’ students recently created a T-shirt depicting her likeness and mantra, “Design excellence—doing the maximum with whatever challenge you’re facing.”

Locally, Davis has influenced campus master plans for UT and the Webb School of Knoxville as well as the civic vision for downtown Knoxville.

ShellBill Shell, recipient of the East Tennessee AIA Merit Award, retired from the College of Architecture and Design in 2010 after a distinguished instructional career spanning forty-one years. He dedicated his career to helping students understand the clarity and craft of architecture as a professional discipline.

In all, seven professionals or organizations were recognized at the annual East Tennessee AIA design awards program. Demonstrating the impact of UT’s College of Architecture and Design, all of this year’s award recipients were students, faculty, or alumni of the college.

The East Tennessee AIA Design Awards Program salutes excellence in architecture and seeks to honor built and unbuilt works of distinction designed by AIA members in East Tennessee.

View the award video featuring Davis. 

Find more information about the College of Architecture and Design.  


Amanda F. Johnson (865-974-6401,