After a four-week contest that drew more than 800,000 votes from the public, the Florida Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Florida) announced the Smokey Hollow Commemoration at Cascades Park in Tallahassee as the winner of the People’s Choice Award architecture competition. Six other areas of the state had entries that finished in the Top Ten.
The Smokey Hollow site was announced as the top vote-getter at AIA Florida’s Annual Convention in Miami on Saturday. The distinctive structure in Tallahassee received the most online support among 58 nominated public buildings. Each of AIA Florida’s 13 chapters nominated structures, and others came from submissions for a prestigious AIA Florida Design Award. The month-long competition helped shine a light on exceptional community structures that have a unique architectural design and significant impact on their local area.
“We are delighted that this competition showcased outstanding architectural achievement in even commonplace structures like a Walgreens or athletic facilities, which you may not expect to see in an architecture competition,” said Nathan Butler, AIA, president of AIA Florida. “Each of the nominated buildings has had and continues to have a positive impact on its community and the people it serves.”
The Smokey Hollow Commemoration at Cascades Park commemorates Tallahassee’s Smokey Hollow community, which was lost in the name of “Deep South” urban renewal in the 1960s. The challenge lay in how to design a commemoration that embodies the neighborhood that once existed in the footprint of a new park area. The Smokey Hollow neighborhood consisted of rows of shotgun houses facing a communal dirt path, surrounded by groves of trees, with a ditch that meandered through the community.
“We are honored to be recognized by AIA Florida for our role in this impactful community project. Our firm strives to create architecture that resonates both with the client and with the community,” said M. Hays Layerd, Creative Director for Architects | Lewis + Whitlock, the architecture firm that created the winning project. “This award has been deeply moving and especially meaningful for us because all of you helped to make it happen.”
The primary elements of the Smokey Hollow neighborhood commemoration incorporate three sculptural steel-framed Spirit Houses, a bubbling water fountain feature, a fountain plaza, a tree grove, community planting boxes and the location of a future pavilion. The “spirit houses,” inspired by Robert Venturi’s Benjamin Franklin Ghost Houses, rise from the earth providing a faint memory of what once stood.
“We are thrilled that so many Floridians were engaged with this competition,” said Bill Hercules, AIA, President of the Board of Trustees of the Florida Foundation for Architecture. “It’s easy for people to overlook the economic and social impacts architecture can play in their local environments, and our goal was to educate the public about these impacts through the People’s Choice Award architecture competition.”
Other buildings included in the Top Ten were:
2. Normandy Isles Walgreens in Miami Beach
3. Florida State University Softball Indoor Batting Facility in Tallahassee
4. Archbold Biological Station Learning Center and Lodge in Venus
5. William R. Hough Hall at University of Florida in Gainesville
6. 3333 Building in Naples
7. Exploration Tower in Cape Canaveral
8. Alton Road Walgreens in Miami Beach
9. Young At Art (YAA) Museum Broward County Library in Davie
10. William Johnston Building at Florida State University in Tallahassee
“The contest included the simple to the sublime in design, and to see the community come together in support of this humble yet powerful project has been fantastic,” said Vicki Long, CAE, AIA Florida’s Executive Vice President.