The American Institute of Architects has named David M. Powell, FAIA, the winner of the 2023 AIA Award for Excellence in Public Architecture. Originally created in 1992 as the Thomas Jefferson Award, the honor acknowledges "the importance of public officials or individuals who by their role and advocacy have furthered the public’s awareness and appreciation of design excellence in public architecture," according to AIA.
Powell is being celebrated for his many contributions to Nashville, Tenn., where he has practiced since 1991. A former musician, the HASTINGS Architecture co-owner and principal brings an artful perspective to his projects, relying on "a design process akin to songwriting," according to an AIA press release announcing Powell's win. “He clearly articulates his vision and uncovers ‘the hook,’ ultimately developing an overarching structure that tells a complete story,” the release continues. “This process has been integral in Nashville, where unprecedented growth and development have advanced the importance of public architecture and community spaces rooted in culture.”
One shining example? The LEED Gold-certified Bellevue Library, designed as “new front porch for [the] community,” per the AIA release, while the city was recovering from a historic flood that destroyed homes and public buildings and claimed 18 lives. Among other features, the building boasts a sun-blocking steel screen, complete with a perforation pattern that mimics the path of Bellevue's Harpeth River.
Powell has also been involved in community programs such as Socially Conscious Design 101, aimed at informing the public about “the broader impacts of design,” the release states.
The Institute Honors for Collaborative and Professional Achievement Jury determines the winner of the AIA Award for Excellence in Public Architecture. This year's jurors included chair Gianna Pigford, AIA, Stantec, Plano, Texas; Mitchell Ramseur, AIA, M Ramseur & Associates, Raleigh, N.C.; Ricardo J. Maga Rojas, Assoc. AIA, STG Design, Austin, Texas; Mona Hodge, AIA, Smith Gee Studio, Nashville, Tenn.; and Jacqueline Gomez, Hispanic American Construction Industry, Chicago.