Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Little Build Up

When Heather Baugus Koury began working with the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the organization was interested in constructing community.

"There was a growing need for us to develop new community outreach programs," says Koury, the executive director of AIA Memphis. "Our mission is to assist in the creation of a better built environment, and there was change at the national level to include more community involvement."

The idea for Architecture Month was born five years ago when Koury got together with Memphis Heritage executive director June West.

"We started with the idea of architecture week, but June and I don't know how to do anything small," Koury says.

This year, Architecture Month includes America's Favorite Architecture, a touring exhibit that will be at the Central Library September 9th through October 13th, a lecture by National Trust for Historic Preservation COO David J. Brown at the Brooks, and the Downtown Chalk Art Festival.

Last year, about 17 groups competed in the chalk art festival and Koury expects about the same number this year. The festival, currently held at the Main Street farmers market, is looking both to expand in 2009 and to include more artist participation.

"We've maxed out our space," she says. "We get more inquiries than we can actually accomodate."

Each year, a certain architecture firm has taken home Best in Show. Though there is already a "youth" category for younger participants, AIA thought it would be more fair to include a category for professional architects.

"That way they're competing against each other and not the family at the market who just walks up and decides to compete," Koury says.

Other highlights of Architecture Month include a tour of the Central Library, a tour of LeMoyne-Owen's Sweeney Hall (currently undergoing restoration), and a tour of SkyCottage, a 2,500-square-foot residence on Harbor Town.

West and Koury will be on WKNO's Checking on the Arts this afternoon. For more information on architecture month, visit AIA Memphis' website.

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