Author: ArchitectureWorks

Gulf State Park Interpretive Center and Trails Win at AIA Birmingham Design Awards

We are proud to announce that ArchitectureWorks received two awards at the 2023 AIA Birmingham Design Awards! The Gulf State Park Interpretive Center received an Honor Award, the highest level of recognition, and the Gulf State Park Hike and Bike Trails received a Citation Award.

The jury remarked on the Interpretive Center, “From siting, materials, programming and circulation, this project was thoughtful throughout. We loved the care for detail and emphasis on minimizing the building’s impact. The entire project felt like it had a level of care – for the surrounding environment, for the occupants, and for the details and the design.”

The jury stated regarding the Hike and Bike Trails, “The geographic macro scale was well managed with connectivity while the micro scale is simultaneously engaging at the individual visitor scale. We especially loved the Pause Places for their brilliant simplicity. They are built in a way that focuses on celebrating the surrounding beauty. In a continuously urbanizing world, this project stands out as a way to appropriately engage with nature and provide a positive impact to protected lands.”

Jessica H. Bennett and Roger Mainor elevated to Partners at ArchitectureWorks

ArchitectureWorks is pleased to announce that Jessica Hughes Bennett and Roger Alan Mainor have both been elevated to Partners in the firm.

Jessica joined ArchitectureWorks in 2016 and has more than 15 years of experience specializing in commercial developments, educational facilities, and historic restoration church projects. A native of Birmingham, Jessica earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Auburn University. She’s a member of the American Institute of Architects and holds the professional certifications LEED AP and NCARB. Jessica has served on the Railroad Park Foundation Junior Board and is a current member of the Board of Directors for the Birmingham Land Bank Authority.

Roger joined Architecture Works in 2017 and has extensive experience leading commercial and institutional projects. Roger’s prior design-build expertise has been instrumental in his ability to manage two of the firm’s complex historic renovation projects: The University of Alabama’s Oliver-Barnard Hall, and Tuomey Hall, both originally built in 1889. Roger earned Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Interior Architecture degrees from Auburn University, and a Master of Architecture from Cornell University. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects and holds the professional certification LEED AP.

For more than twenty-five years, our firm has created places of enduring quality with a commitment to community, service, and making the world a better place to live, work and play. We are excited for the road forward and for the continued commitment that Jessica and Roger provide our clients.

Gulf State Park Trails designed by ArchitectureWorks named best in country

We are pleased to announce that the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Alabama has been named the Best Recreational Trail in the country by the USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards! ArchitectureWorks worked with the State of Alabama and the Department of Natural Resources to design and implement more than 25 miles of trails across Gulf State Park, creating loop systems to encourage visitors’ education of the various ecosystems unique to the area. The vehicular-free system includes paved trails and elevated boardwalks connected to the beachfront trails by two pedestrian bridges. The trails create a universally accessible system for all ages and abilities to safely experience the entirety of the Park.

In addition to the trail system, our firm designed a variety of Pause Places along the trails to escape the heat of the summer and the cold winter winds. The respites are scattered throughout the Park, and each creates a unique experience at its location. The Pause Places also create informal meeting places where visitors are encouraged to meet one another and share experiences. A full trail system sign package was designed and implemented in collaboration with Robert Finkel. Interpretive signs designed by James Hersick are also scattered along the trail system, evoking historical and ecological narratives.

The trail was nominated by a panel of relevant experts, including editors from USA Today, editors from, and other contributors.

Interpretive Graphics Design: Hersick + Webster
Trail Signs Design: Robert Finkel

The Chestnut Residence Receives AIA Birmingham Honor Award

The renovation of this 1950’s brick rancher in Leeds, Alabama is designed to connect to the surrounding forest through large expanses of glass, a gracious screen porch, and welcoming entry terraces. The new spaces sit within the original footprint, reducing site disturbance and retaining the mature forest close to the house.

The existing exterior brick was retained and painted creating a datum line at the original bearing plate. A new screen porch sits within the footprint of the original carport and connects to the living room via nine foot tall bi-folding glass door panels. The interior palette was designed to bring warmth throughout the house with exposed cedar structure, rift-sawn white oak floors, and unlacquered brass fixtures. Modest bedrooms on the upper level feel larger thanks to a new mono-slope roof offering high ceilings and generous views.

A drastic elevation change at the front of the house was addressed through a gracious entry stair that rises through large weathering steel planters, connecting the upper yard and screened porch to a new butterfly-roof carport. A large steel fireplace anchors the living space and speaks to these steel retaining walls at the entry.

Photography: KP Studios Photography

Custom metal fabrication including brass range hood, fireplace surround and integrated mantle, and Corten planters by Blackshop.

Carlos Hernandez, AIA receives 2022 AIA Alabama Young Architect Honor Award

ArchitectureWorks is proud to announce that Carlos Hernandez, AIA received the 2022 AIA Alabama Young Architect Honor Award! This is the highest award bestowed upon a young AIA Member whose leadership, service, and contributions have directly benefited the profession and AIA Alabama.

Carlos is being honored for his dedication to AIA and Alabama Center for Architecture volunteer efforts. Most recently, Carlos worked alongside AW partner Bruce Lanier and the rest of the Compassion Project volunteer team to create a community and resource space for people experiencing homelessness in Birmingham. The Compassion Project was awarded a Merit Award at the AIA Alabama Design Awards this year.

Carlos also worked with Drs. Nyesha Black and Sarah Rutland to design an Alabama-specific companion to the traveling National Building Museum’s Evicted Exhibit, which he helped bring to Birmingham in 2021. He has also designed and installed several other AIA Birmingham exhibits.

In addition, Carlos designed the Highland Park Community Garden and serves on the garden’s operating committee. His representative works include the Alabama Pinhoti Trail Strategic Master Plan, the Red Rock Trail System Branding and Wayfinding, the Gulf Shores Center for Ecotourism and Sustainability, and the Gulf State Park Interpretive Center. Congratulations, Carlos!

The Son of a Butcher receives AIA Alabama People’s Choice Award

The People love The Son of a Butcher! ArchitectureWorks was honored to receive the People’s Choice Award at the 2022 AIA Alabama Excellence in Design Awards for The Son of a Butcher. This award is voted on by our peers attending the state conference on architecture, and we’re pretty sure they were as focused on the amazing selection of meats, seafood, and specialty food items on display as they were on this renovation of a nondescript 60’s era building in the Pepper Place District of Birmingham. Our design employs a simple palette of stainless-steel fixtures and utilitarian tile finishes in subtle contrast to custom white oak cabinetry and finish carpentry, providing a complimentary backdrop to the shop’s high-quality products. The simple presentation of this retail shop belies the complex mechanical, plumbing, and food handling requirements more typically found in much larger industrial facilities. Thank you AIA Alabama and congratulations to the other recipients!

See more on ArchitectureWork’s Instagram here

Photography: Cary Norton


Jones Valley Teaching Farm Center for Food Education receives a Birmingham Business Journal’s Building Birmingham Award

ArchitectureWorks was announced as one of the winners of the Birmingham Business Journal’s 2022 Building Birmingham Awards for our work at the Jones Valley Teaching Farm Center for Food Education! Thank you to Birmingham Business Journal for listing our project as one of the most transformative projects changing the face of the Magic City and congratulations to the other recipients.

Check out more on our Instagram here

Restored Flagg Mountain Tower marks start of the Pinhoti Trail

Flagg Mountain is the centerpiece of Weogufka State Park and the start of the Pinhoti Trail. Atop Flagg Mountain is a 40-foot tall Civilian Conservation Corp era stone Lookout Tower. After documenting the existing tower, the interior stairs were replaced, allowing visitors unparalleled views of Alabama’s great forests. ArchitectureWorks collaborated with many partners on this project including Alabama Forestry Commission, Alabama Trails Foundations, Alabama Historical Commission, and University of Alabama’s Department of Economic Development and College of Archaeology.

See more on ArchitectureWork’s Instagram here

M2 offers exceptional hub for Birmingham workspaces

M2 is a 70,000 sf modern workplace serving enterprises and entrepreneurs operating in light manufacturing, production design, and other creative industries. Gathering organizations, established companies, startups, and individuals that might not otherwise work together and give, M2 provides a place and process to get things done.

Anchored by the Ghost Train Brewing Company’s second location, M2 occupies an important moment as the Red Rock Trail network continues to connect downtown Birmingham with its immediate suburbs. What was once 2nd Avenue South now serves as a transition between the industrial areas of Lakeview to the more commercial and entertainment-focused Avondale.

See more on ArchitectureWork’s Instagram here

Photography: Cary Norton

Gulf State Park Learning Campus receives AIA Alabama Design Honor Award

A hub for park visitors, K-12 students, rotating researchers, and park staff, the Gulf State Park Learning Campus offers classrooms, laboratories, flexible meeting spaces, and lodging options. ArchitectureWorks received an AIA Alabama Design Honor Award for the Learning Campus’s eco-focused, open-air design.

Built on a previously developed area in an evergreen forest, this LEED Silver awarded project demonstrates sustainable building practices and cultivates stewardship through interactive environmental programming. The site design of the Campus encourages visitors to park the car and use a network of pedestrian trails, creating various experiences amid native longleaf pines and live oaks. The Student Lodge, equipped with 64 bunk beds and 2 private rooms, and a Community Restaurant are a short walk-in-the-woods away from a collection of Classrooms and a 200-seat Auditorium. Connected by boardwalks and characterized by screened porches nestled under the trees, the Classrooms and Auditorium provide a variety of learning opportunities. Together, they form Gulf State Park’s primary learning destination for exhibits and formal research.

Learn more here:

Photography: Cary Norton (exterior) and Valor Hospitality (interior)