Clark Nexsen Wins Five 2021 AIA South Atlantic Region Design Awards

The American Institute of Architects, South Atlantic Region (AIA SAR) presented Clark Nexsen with five design awards for design excellence at an awards ceremony held digitally during the Aspire Online Conference in September. Andrea Leers, FAIA, from Leers Weinzapfel Associates chaired a jury that chose the winning work from more than 270 entries submitted by firms in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.


Honor Award – Watauga Community Recreation Center

The project’s completion marks the culmination of decades of effort by Watauga County to upgrade its recreational facilities. The recreation center in western North Carolina offers four gymnasiums, suspended running track, competition pool, leisure pool, multipurpose rooms, and fitness facilities. Irregular peaks and valleys of the center’s roof echo the undulating ridgelines of the surrounding mountains. Stone cladding references an Appalachian vernacular while generous use of curtain wall provides interior daylighting and views in, to the pools, and out, to the adjacent athletic fields and mountains beyond. The jury was impressed with the sophisticated use of materials and the abundant daylighting and airy feel of spaces in the facility.

Merit Award – Bioprocess Innovation Center

The Bioprocess Innovation Center for FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies re-conceptualizes the role of a research laboratory building to foster interaction between scientists while weaving the building and landscape together on a heavily wooded site. A central public path runs from the terraced parking through the two story entrance and lobby space that encourages collaboration through shared multilevel meeting spaces. The building’s plan is composed of two principle bars: a laboratory bar and an administration bar that extend the length of the site. The principal collaboration spaces are located at the ends of each bar framing views to the forest.

Merit Award – WTCC Multipurpose Athletics & Culinary Arts Building

The Multipurpose Athletics and Culinary Arts Building (Building K) is a versatile new facility that embodies Wake Tech’s vision to provide world-class programs and training to the community it serves. Reflective of the college’s focus on skilled trades programs, this dynamic, light-filled facility blends state-of-the-art commercial kitchens for the baking and pastry arts program with athletic space for NCAA sports and fitness science education spaces. Through a curriculum-centered design that emphasizes the learning experience, the teaching spaces support students’ ability to make immediate, meaningful contributions in their future careers.

Merit Award, Interior Architecture – NCSU Fitts-Woolard Hall

Transparency is used throughout the new engineering classroom and research facility at NC State University to create a light-filled, vibrant education environment. The engaging use of materials and light unifies the main “engineering on display” theme and internal circulation path. The jury noted the creativity and energy of the engineering classroom and research lab facility’s interiors – pointing out the structurally expressive monumental stairs featuring an exposed pony truss housed in a solid blackened wrapper and the irregularly faceted acoustic wood wall.

Merit Award – Duke Edens Quad Renovation

Described as “fortress-like” by students, Edens Quad was the least desirable place to live on campus. A series of strategies were developed for reviving the quad, creating a vibrant residential community connected to and engaged with the greater campus. Study and gaming amenities surround the new gateway, providing unique campus amenities. Existing commons areas are transformed into lanterns that provide needed transparency, connecting interior and exterior spaces. The jury commented, “This is a carefully calibrated intervention that produces a big impact by creating a clear sense of arrival, strengthening the connection to the ground plane – and the campus beyond. The architects designed a new insertion with a keen editorial eye that thoughtfully respects the successes and responds to the challenges of the original building.”

About AIA South Atlantic Region
The American Institute of Architects South Atlantic Region is made up of the chapters in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina and is home to more than 5,500 members. The AIA is the voice of the architectural profession and a resource for its members in service to society. The organization is dedicated to driving positive change in communities through the power of design.

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Above: All project photos taken by Mark Herboth Photography.