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Two professors in UT’s College of Architecture and Design earned a national design award for their collaborative work with students and community members to develop the Beardsley Farm Education Center, a project of the college’s nationally ranked design/build program.

Jennifer Akerman and Bob French received the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture’s Collaborative Practice Award for the center, which was designed and largely built by students in Akerman and French’s studios.

Jennifer Akerman

More than 50 students from the college collaborated with peers, professionals, and farm officials from conception to construction to create a public space that benefits the Knoxville community.

“Transformative experiences such as this prepare students to serve the community as innovative design professionals,” said Akerman.

Throughout the process, the students contributed coursework and service, designing and building a center to advance the farm’s mission to engage the community through education, service, and public outreach. The center was completed in early 2016. It provides a classroom, office spaces, and restrooms for local residents, volunteers, and farm staff.

Bob French

The Collaborative Practice Award honors the best practices in school-based community outreach programs that demonstrate how faculty, students and community clients work to realize common objectives.

Two other architecture professors at UT have been honored by the ACSA. In 2013, TK Davis received the award for transit-oriented development, and in 2009, Ted Shelton was recognized for his work with Tennessee State Parks.

Last fall, the center received the 2016 Honor Award, People’s Choice Award, and Member’s Choice Award from the American Institute of Architects East Tennessee. The project was also recognized when Study Architecture, a program of ACSA, named the college’s design/build program among the top seven in the country.

The project—a collaboration among the college, the City of Knoxville, the Public Building Authority, Elizabeth Eason Architects, and Merit Construction—was supported by General Shale, AIAETN, Paulk and Co., Stonepeak Tile, Keene Building Products, Columbia Forest Products, Baird and Wilson, and many others.

For more than 40 years, the design/build program in the College of Architecture and Design has offered experience-learning opportunities to prepare students for careers in design. Through exploration, collaboration, and mission-driven innovation, it applies design excellence, environmental performance, and social responsibility to many challenges in the built environment to positively impact society.


Amanda F. Johnson (865-974-6401,

Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,