AIA Tennessee Recognizes Contributions of Members with Awards

AIA Tennessee recently honored 11 individuals in three categories recognizing contributions of members whose efforts and achievements have significantly improved the presence of AIA Tennessee, the profession of architecture and/or the built environment in Tennessee.

The complete list of awards is as follows:

Ron V. Gobbell, FAIA, was the recipient of the 2021 William Strickland Lifetime Achievement Award for the Profession of Architecture. This award, one of AIA TN’s highest honors, recognizes achievements of those architects who, by their skill, professionalism, dedication, ability, and commitment, have consistently fostered quality in the built environment, creating a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture.

Gobbell pioneered the role of architecture and environmental issues in the built environment. He recognized that an architects’ ability to see the big picture but also to be able to scale down to the granular equipped them to bring architectural and environmental expertise to forensic issues in buildings. Gobbell became a leading national expert—co-authoring the book Indoor Air Quality Solutions and Strategies, instructed in Europe, and testified before the U.S. Senate and state legislatures.

While his career has been geographically far-reaching, his greatest impact and focus has remained in Nashville, where he has been devoted to the preservation and rebirth of downtown. His commitment to his hometown led to the rehabilitation of 108 renovation/construction projects in Nashville alone, including award winning landmark and legacy projects such as The Hermitage Hotel, Union Station Hotel, and First Horizon Park, among others. In the ’90s, he was actively involved in the economic and community revitalization of three contiguous historic districts in downtown Nashville; Broadway, 2nd Avenue/Riverfront, and Printers Alley. In the 2000s, he helped spearhead the renovation of Nashville’s 5th Avenue into the ‘Fifth Avenue of the Arts’, a center for art and culture.

Gobbell currently provides project management for The Fairgrounds Nashville and Major League Soccer Stadium. And one of the first calls Nashville Mayor John Cooper made, following the horrific 2020 Christmas Day Bombing of Second Avenue, was to Ron Gobbell asking him to spearhead the task force for the impacted area’s future and recovery. In 2021, Mayor Cooper appointed Gobbell as Project Manager of the rebuild of Second Avenue crediting Gobbell’s architectural expertise, in-depth knowledge of historic architecture and environmental issues within old buildings, and commitment to the community.

Mike Fitts, FAIA, was the recipient of the 2021 Samuel Morgan Lifetime Service Award for Contribution to Architecture in the Public Realm. This award, one of AIA TN’s highest honors, recognizes the achievements of architects employed in the United States public sector, State of Tennessee, or governmental agencies who have consistently fostered quality in the public built environment.

Fitts served as the Tennessee’s State Architect from 1971 to 2010, being only the second person to serve in this position since its establishment in 1955. During his nearly 40 years as State Architect, he served under seven Tennessee Governors and oversaw the design and construction of more than 700 state facilities.

A native of Jackson, Tenn., Fitts graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. He was commissioned as an officer in the US Navy, serving four years with the Underwater Demolition Team (now known as the Navy SEALS). He began his career as an engineer. His passion for buildings drew him to get a M. Arch degree from UT in 1971. And while serving as Tennessee’s State Architect, recognizing the degree to which public buildings deal with contract language and legalities, he acquired an education and degree in law so he would excel in all aspects of the role.

Having once said, “The Capitol represents the foresight and pride that our forefathers had, as well as a quality of workmanship unparalleled in Tennessee at the time,” Fitts oversaw significant changes to the state capitol and the surrounding areas including the restoration of the state capitol, the ambitious Legislative Plaza project in the 1970s and the commissioning and adoption of a new master plan for the area surrounding the State Capitol in the 1980s.

Under his leadership a master plan and comprehensive program for the State Capitol area and the new Bicentennial Mall was commissioned and approved in 1993 with both projects being completed for dedication on “Statehood Day”, June 1, 1996.

Following the completion of the Bicentennial Mall, Mike Fitts advocated for a masterplan for the 40 acres of state property surrounding the new 19-acre urban park. This masterplan stipulated the location of two then forthcoming state facilities: the new Tennessee State Museum and the New Tennessee State Library and Archives.

Being mindful of the need to ensure continuity and consistency on the grounds of the Capitol Hill and Bicentennial Mall, Fitts commissioned the development of guidelines that included strict directives for locations of future memorial locations, materials, access, and durability.

2021 Presidential Award of Excellence

Recipients have contributed time and energy over and above that which is normally expected to enhance and improve the Profession of Architecture—whose efforts and achievements have significantly improved the position and presence of AIA Tennessee—whose initiative to lead and voluntary commitment to serve have been an example and asset for not only the Society but the entire profession. View recipient photos.

  • Valentina Puppione Cochran, AIA | ArchiInc (Memphis) was honored for her leadership serving as the 2021 Conference on Architecture and her efforts ensuring members received the highest quality education during a challenging year while providing an innovative, engaging virtual conference.
  • Valarie Franklin, AIA | Moody Nolan (Nashville) was recognized for being a leader champion furthering justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in the profession and AIA Tennessee as well as her leadership of NOMAnash, and her passion to engage K-12 students through several education iniatives.
  • Matthew (Matt) Lyle, AIA | frankin|architects (Chattanooga) was honored for his service and commitment to AIA Tennessee’s advocacy program, SpeakUp 2021, which was the first completely virtual advocacy program focused on advocacy initiatives, engaging membership, and educating state legislators.
  • Linda Marzialo, AIA (Nashville) was recognized for her dedicated time and leadership as the chair of AIA Tennessee’s Justice Equity Diversity Inclusion (JE+DI) committee formed in 2020 to make the profession more equitable, inclusive, and diverse through acknowledging, listening, learning, and acting.
  • P. Jeanne Myers, AIA | HBG Design (Memphis) was recognized for her thoughtful and strategic leadership serving as Treasurer for AIA Tennessee and her contributions year after year as newly licensed architect coordinator and the volunteer leader during AIA TN’s Conference on Architecture.
  • Tilman (Trey) Wheeler, AIA |TinkerMa (Chattanooga) was recognized for his significant, ongoing impact on the profession as the chair of AIA Tennessee’s government relations committee, and his dedication to advance and promote the built environment in Tennessee.
  • Michael Winter, AIA | Fleming Architects (Memphis) was honored for his contributions and positive impact on the profession and AIA Tennessee serving on the Board of Directors, EP committee and leading efforts to update AIA Tennessee’s website.
  • Christopher (Tre’) Yancy, Associate AIA | Fleming Architects (Memphis) was recognized for his outstanding contribution in fostering workplace diversity and inclusion through his volunteer efforts on AIA Tennessee’s JE+DI Committee as well as his commitment and dedication to serving as the Gulf States Regional Associate Director
  • AIA Tennessee Staff | Nashville, TN was recognized for their service, leadership, and innovative thinking through years of great challenges and opportunities for AIA Tennessee and its members.

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