Communities across Alabama are thriving thanks to the ongoing efforts of DesignAlabama. Incorporated in 1987, the Montgomery-based nonprofit organization unites design professionals and citizens to create master plans for community development and downtown revitalization, along with supporting other organizations with similar goals. Programs include: Alabama Mayor’s Design Summit that brings together mayors to address their community design issues; DesignPlace in which professionals visit selected communities to offer assistance with design, planning and community identity; and Connectivity that provides itineraries for discovering Alabama’s people and places. Gina Clifford serves as executive director.

Photo credit: DesignAlabama

Cheryl Morgan

“I remain in my own designs a minimalist and believe in trying to do the most with the least-simple, and one hopes, elegant design.”

Cheryl Morgan, FAIA, Architect and Professor, Auburn University

Philip Morris

“We want good design in Alabama to be like breathing, a natural part of living and doing things”

Philip Morris, Writer, Editor and Design Enthusiast

Huntsville: Feather Wild

Huntsville: Feather Wild

Sarah Conklin, founder of Feather Wild in Huntsville, starts the process of making her textiles with free-hand drawings inspired by river rocks and other patterns found in nature or in books. She then transfers these original drawings to small quantities of natural and upcycled (creatively reused) fabrics. Some fabrics are hand-dyed, by hand-printing them with water-based ink at Green Pea Press where she teaches printing and is a founding member. Conklin cuts and sews the fabric into items that are beautiful and made to last, such as pouches, pin cushions and scarves, along with one-of-kind wall hangings.

Photo credit: Feather Wild

Gee’s Bend: Gee’s Bend Quilters

Gee’s Bend: Gee’s Bend Quilters

Gee’s Bend’s “eye-poppingly gorgeous” quilts, wrote New York Times art critic Michael Kimmelman, “turn out to be some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced.” The quilts of Gee’s Bend are sewn by a group of women in this small town southwest of Selma, and they make some of the most important African-American contributions to art in the United States. Their style is described as bold and sophisticated, based on traditional American and African-American quilts, with a geometric simplicity reminiscent of Amish quilts and modern art. Without a doubt, Gee’s Bend quilters have made their mark, stitch by stitch, in the upper echelons of quilt-making.

Photo credit:

Fort Payne: Orbix Hot GlassFort Payne: Orbix Hot Glass

Fort Payne: Orbix Hot Glass

On 26 acres along Little River Canyon National Preserve in Fort Payne is Orbix Hot Glass, where owner Cal Breed leads a team of glassblowers who hand-craft each piece with attention to form, balance and richly saturated, jewel-like colors. Founded in 2002 by Cal and his wife Christy, the glass art studio and gallery business has made a name for itself with its refined handmade glassware that includes wall art, pitchers, wine carafes, tree ornaments and other items such as those in Auburn University orange and blue. Visitors are welcome to watch the glassmaking process.

Photo credit: Orbix Hot Glass

Birmingham: Sloss Metal Arts

Birmingham: Sloss Metal Arts

No better place for the metal arts than Birmingham’s Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark, the site of pig iron production for nearly 100 years. Sloss Metal Arts at Sloss Furnaces promotes iron-casting and related arts. The program also offers open studios and casting services, workshops; houses resident artists and apprentices; and provides demonstrations at schools, museums and festivals. Sloss Metal Arts also accepts commissions for public art installations. Or try your hand at iron pouring on Bowl-O-Rama night and create your own iron bowl.

Photo credit: Lewis Kennedy

Arley: Wood Studio

Arley: Wood Studio

On Smith Lake at the southern end of the Bankhead National Forest in Arley is Wood Studio, a family owned custom woodworking design and fabrication business specializing in small and medium scale residential and commercial projects. In their spacious yurt-style studio they craft wood furniture and other objects that are aesthetically pleasing and made to last generations. Randy Cochran operates the sales office in Fort Payne and his sons Keith and Dylan run the shop in Arley. Traditional and modern techniques are used to create functional works of art using hand-selected, sustainably harvested materials.

Photo credit: Brian Francis Photography

Robert Trent Jones Golf TrailRobert Trent Jones Golf TrailRobert Trent Jones Golf Trail

Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is the largest golf course construction project ever attempted and the brainchild of David Bronner, CEO of the Retirement Systems of Alabama, who in the 1980s came up with the idea as a way to diversify the assets of the state’s pension fund and boost state tourism. Robert Trent Jones, Sr. was hired to design the courses because of his history designing top courses worldwide. Today, there are 26 golf courses on the trail on 11 sites across Alabama. The enormous trail project has been compared in complexity to the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Photo credit: Alabama Tourism Department

Mobile: Bellingrath GardensMobile: Bellingrath Gardens

Mobile: Bellingrath Gardens

Something is always blooming at Bellingrath Gardens in Mobile – 400 varieties of camellias in the winter, azaleas in the spring, roses, hydrangeas and tropical plants in the summer and the renowned “cascading chrysanthemums” in the fall. Bellingrath was established in the early days of the Great Depression, when Walter Bellingrath and his wife Bessie opened their gardens to the public. Along with year-round explosions of colorful blooms, the 65-acre Bellingrath Gardens and Home offers tours of the Bellingrath estate that is now a museum. Visitors can also walk along the bayou boardwalk while enjoying the great variety of flowering plants that change every season.

Photo credit: Tad Denson


Montgomery and Tuscaloosa: Riverfront Parks

Tuscaloosa and Montgomery are two cities that have taken full advantage of having a river and both have found ways to maximize this natural resource. On the Alabama River is the Montgomery Riverfront Park whose attractions include an amphitheatre, riverboat and the historic Union Station Train Shed. The Riverwalk in Tuscaloosa offers a paved well-lighted trail along the southern bank of the Black Warrior River near downtown. Dog-friendly park areas line the trail, as well as benches, gazebos, picnic areas and shade trees. The trail also provides a playground near the public library and a splash pad for children.

Photo credit: Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce

Birmingham: Vulcan Park and Grounds

Birmingham: Vulcan Park and Grounds

A fine example of Birmingham’s long and rich legacy of well-designed landscape architecture is Vulcan Park, built in the 1930s under the WPA. Kiwanis Centennial Park opened at Vulcan Park and Museum last year, making the Vulcan, which overlooks Birmingham from atop Red Mountain, more accessible to visitors. The north side of Vulcan Park now features a new plaza, fountain and steps leading up to the Vulcan that connects the iconic statue to downtown Birmingham. The park also includes the Kiwanis Vulcan Trail, a two-mile walking and biking trail. Nimrod Long & Associates also made improvements to the terrace, and added lighting and new landscaping.

Photo credit: Billy Brown Photography

Birmingham: Kelly Ingram ParkBirmingham: Kelly Ingram ParkBirmingham: Kelly Ingram Park

Birmingham: Kelly Ingram Park

The hallmark of Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park is its many sculptures related to the 1960s Civil Rights movement. Statues of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and other civil rights heroes, along with three installations that flank a circular “Freedom Walk.” Another sculpture depicts three local civil rights advocates and ministers in prayer. A sculpture called “Four Spirits” was unveiled at the park in 2013 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the nearby 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. In 1992, the four-acre park was renovated and rededicated to coincide with the opening of the nearby Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Large demonstrations took place at Kelly Ingram during the struggle for civil rights.

Photo credit: Chris Granger

Birmingham: Avondale Park

Birmingham: Avondale Park

No surprise that Avondale Park is one of Birmingham’s most beloved city parks. It’s also one of the oldest. The 36.5-acre site has been a park since 1887 and was home to the city’s first zoo. Renovated in 2011, the idyllic grounds consist of ball fields, an amphitheater, a duck pond surrounded with walking trails that meet ADA standards, a playground, picnic pavilion and plenty of benches throughout. Avondale Library and the restored Avondale Villa, an event facility, are also on the property. The steep slopes of the hill above the park contain woodlands and ruins from the zoo.

Photo credit: KPS Group

Owen Foster

Owen Foster

Owen Foster, a 2005 graduate of Auburn’s Master of Industrial Design Program, has spent much of his career bringing design to students. He is co-founder and co-director of SHIFT Design Camp, where high school and university students worldwide meet every summer near Tuscumbia to engage in design. The Alabama native is also director at Aether Global Learning, a think tank for transformational learning and leadership, and is co-owner and designer of Fulcrum Collaborative, a multi-disciplinary design studio. The Industrial Designers Society of America named Owen Foster its 2015 IDSA Educator of Year while he was department chair of industrial design at Savannah College of Art and Design.

Photo credit: Owen Foster

Mary Catherine (Clem) Folmar

Mary Catherine (Clem) Folmar

The designs created by Mary Catherine Folmar for her hand-illustrated textiles and wall coverings reflect her Alabama upbringing, along with her travels through Europe, Asia and America’s east and west coasts. Her style is inspired by the “classic and timeless design of southern living while pushing the limits with contemporary patterns, colors and textures.” The Auburn University industrial design graduate founded Birmingham-based Cotton & Quill in 2012 and has been featured in a number of publications including Southern Living.

Photo credit: Mary Catherine (Clem) Folmar

Ken Musgrave

Ken Musgrave

Auburn University industrial design graduate Ken Musgrave is vice president and head of Global Customer Experience and Global Experience Design for Hewlett-Packard, where he leads new product, brand and user experience design and development. Before HP, Musgrave was executive director of experience design at Dell Inc., directing the design of every category of Dell products and leading the global design capability for Dell’s commercial products. Prior to Dell, he served in various product development leadership roles for Becton Dickinson, a medical technology company. He was previously at Ratio Design Labs, an emerging design & technology development firm in Atlanta.

Photo credit: Ken Musgrave

Anjuli Bedekar Clavert

Anjuli Bedekar Clavert

As Senior Innovation Strategist at Humana in Louisville, Kentucky, Anjuli Bedekar Clavert champions human-centered design and innovation discipline to develop solutions that reduce the occurrence of disease and slow its progression. Clavert graduated cum laude from Auburn University in 2008 with a degree in industrial design and has spent the past 10 years designing products and experiences for a wide variety of consumers, brands and technologies. She was named one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30” in Manufacturing & Industry in 2015.

Photo credit: Anjuli Bedekar Clavert

Community Identity through Graphic Design

Community Identity through Graphic Design

Known as a historic railroad town, the City of Opelika was recently treated to a new logo and brand identity that continues to honor this tradition. With its bold yet simple graphics, the new logo is now seen on social media, signage, graphics, buildings and the city website. A community’s qualities and distinctiveness told through graphic design is an effective way to boost economic development, tourism, local pride and connectivity. Communities throughout Alabama and across America are discovering that graphic design can communicate memorable visual narratives that make people take notice.

Photo credit: City of Opelika & Copperwing

Year of “Posters” – Luckie and Company

Year of “Posters” – Luckie and Company

Promoting all that Alabama has to offer was the aim of a poster marketing campaign by Alabama Tourism. Each year showcased something different through the use of posters designed by Luckie and Company in Birmingham. The first year in 2004 was the “Year of Alabama Gardens” and subsequent years included music, art, outdoors, small town and downtowns. Food was so popular it was promoted twice and a documentary was created on the Year of Barbecue. The Year in Food also became an exhibit in New York City and several Alabama chefs were brought along. Brad White of Luckie and Company, the lead designer on the project, says the campaign brought attention to what is less known about Alabama and “put Alabama’s food on the map.” About 12 posters were made.

Photo credit: Alabama Tourism Department

Cohrane-Africatown BridgeCohrane-Africatown Bridge

Cohrane-Africatown Bridge

Alabama’s only cable-stayed bridge is the Cochrane–Africatown USA Bridge carrying US 90/US 98 Truck across the Mobile River from the mainland to Blakeley Island in Mobile. Opened in 1991, the bridge was named after the 60-year-old vertical-lift Cochrane Bridge it replaced and nearby historic community of Africatown. The bridge design by Volkert and Associates, Inc. earned the firm two awards in 1992 – the Outstanding Engineering Achievement in the U.S.A. Award from the National Society of Professional Engineers and the Award of Excellence in Highway Design from the Federal Highway Administration.

Photo credit: Lewis Kennedy

Huntsville: Saturn RocketHuntsville: Saturn RocketHuntsville: Saturn RocketHuntsville: Saturn Rocket

Huntsville: Saturn Rocket

Fun fact: A rocket built in Alabama burned more fuel in one second than Lindbergh used to cross the Atlantic. It was the powerful Saturn V, a multistage liquid-fuel expendable rocket used by NASA’s Apollo program in the 1960s and 1970s. The largest production model of the Saturn family of rockets, the Saturn V was designed under the direction of Wernher von Braun at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. The Saturn V had 13 missions, the first 12 for the Apollo program and the 13th launching a Skylab space station into orbit. Two Saturn V rockets are on display at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville.

Photo credit: Chris Granger

Horton Mill Covered Bridge

Blount County: Horton Mill Covered Bridge

Pennsylvania is the state with the most covered bridges with about 200, yet Alabama boasts the nation’s highest covered bridge over a body of water. It’s the Horton Mill Bridge that stands 70 feet above the Black Warrior River in Oneonta. Built in 1935, Horton Mill is one of three covered bridges in Blount County, making Blount County the Covered Bridge Capital of Alabama. The original bridge was built in 1864 near its present location. The one-lane Horton Mill Bridge is 208 feet long and is open to slow-moving traffic.

Photo credit: Tom Starkey

Tuskegee University Chapel InteriorTuskegee University Chapel Interior

Tuskegee: Tuskegee University Chapel Interior

Concerning architecture, Tuskegee University is best known for its Booker T. Washington-era buildings built by students. But the National Historic Site is also home to an internationally renowned work of modern architecture: the Tuskegee University Chapel. Built in 1969 to replace the original 1898 chapel, the monumental brick edifice was designed by famed architect Paul Rudolph and the African-American firm of John A. Welch and Louis Fry, who taught at the Tuskegee Institute. Listed by Southern Living as one of “The South’s Most Beautiful Chapels,” the structure is known for its expansive, light-filled sanctuary – a balance between the “opposite movements of space and light,” as Rudolph described it.

Photo credit: Lewis Kennedy

University of Alabama Smith Hall Interior

Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Smith Hall Interior

With its Classical-Revival façade, the Alabama Museum of Natural History is aesthetically pleasing but it is the interior that is most breathtaking. Located in Smith Hall on the University of Alabama campus, it is Alabama’s oldest museum, founded in 1831. Designed by Alabama architect Frank Lockwood, who also designed the Montgomery Federal Building, the ground level Atrium Gallery is dominated by a staircase made of Alabama marble and Alabama-manufactured iron. The staircase leads to the second floor Grand Gallery, which is surrounded by a colonnade of Corinthian columns that support a full entablature with a highly enriched cornice. A large glass roof floods the interior with natural light.

Photo credit: Lewis Kennedy

Talladega College’s Savery Library

Talladega: Talladega College’s Savery Library

Fifty-three illegally purchased West Africans were transported from Cuba in 1839 aboard the Spanish-built schooner Amistad. The slaves were able to stage a successful mutiny. One-hundred years later in 1939, Savery Library was dedicated at Talladega College, Alabama’s oldest private historically black liberal arts college. Savery Library contains murals depicting the Amistad painted by prominent black artist Hale Woodruff. The Amistad incident is depicted in three panels in the library lobby: The Mutiny, The Court Scene and The Return to Africa. Also in the lobby is a replica of the Amistad ship embedded in the terrazzo floor.

Photo credit: Lewis Kennedy

Sylacauga: Pursell Farms

Sylacauga: Pursell Farms

Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Sylacauga is Pursell Farms, a sprawling 3,200-acre resort that offers sweeping views of several counties. The bucolic, family-run Pursell Farms includes FarmLinks Golf Club, known as a “golfer’s golf course.” Alabama has first-rate golf courses, so when one stands out, that’s saying something. Among the resort’s many other amenities are the Orvis® Shooting Grounds, Hamilton Place wedding venue and The Inn, a recent addition designed by Birmingham-based ArchitectureWorks that includes 40 rooms, a restaurant, bar, meeting space and fitness center.

Photo credit: MackNally Land Design

Sturdivant HallSturdivant HallSturdivant Hall

Selma: Sturdivant Hall

If Hollywood location scouts ever need to find a superb Greek-Revival antebellum mansion for a movie, they need look no further than Sturdivant Hall in Selma. Built between 1852 and 1856, the two-story stuccoed brick structure has a façade with a monumentally scaled portico and 30-foot-tall Corinthian columns. The portico is accessed from the second floor by a cantilevered balcony with an intricate cast-iron railing. The opulent interior features elaborate plasterwork and millwork and a cantilevered staircase. Now a museum, legend has it that Sturdivant Hall is haunted by John Parkman, the mansion’s second owner.

Photo credit: Art Meripol

Montgomery: Capitol Dome Interior/Staircases

Montgomery: Capitol Dome Interior/Staircases

Step into the main foyer of the Alabama State Capitol and what dominates the space are elegant twin stairways that reach in a double spiral to the third floor. The seemingly unsupported stairs are thought to be built by Horace King, a former slave and prominent bridge builder who applied his expert carpentry skills to design and construction. The Capitol was finished in 1851 and during the late 1920s the rotunda was redecorated by artist Roderick Mackenzie of Mobile. Gold and plum are the main colors used to complement a series of eight large murals that Mackenzie painted to depict episodes from Alabama’s past.

Photo credit: Lewis Kennedy

Montgomery: National Memorial for Peace and JusticeMontgomery: National Memorial for Peace and Justice

Montgomery: National Memorial for Peace and Justice

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice opened April 2018 as the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people. It was built to remember people terrorized by lynching and African-Americans victimized by racial segregation and Jim Crow, as well as people of color today burdened by presumptions of guilt and police violence. The six-acre memorial in Montgomery was designed by Boston-based MASS Design Group. The structure contains the names of more than 4,000 lynching victims engraved on columns representing each county in the United States where each lynching took place.

Photo credit: Equal Justice Initiative

Mobile: Government St. Presbyterian Church

Mobile: Government St. Presbyterian Church

Mobile’s Government St. Presbyterian Church is considered among the finest examples of Greek-Revival architecture in the United States and one of the oldest and least altered. Construction began in 1836 and in 1837 one of its architects, Charles Dakin, was married in the sanctuary. Designed by James Gallier and Charles Dakin, the exterior is brick with a stucco finish. The National Historic Landmark is one story over a raised basement with granite foundations and steps. The interior is credited to the Dakin brothers and has had few alterations. The sanctuary has two aisles and retains the original pews.

Photo credit: Lewis Kennedy

Barber Motorsports Park

Barber Motorsports Park

Leeds: Barber Motorsports Park

Barber Motorsports Park is the brainchild of George Barber Jr., whose love of motorsports and collection of vintage motorcycles defines the park. KPS Group provided the park’s overall conceptual design and designed the first phase of the 145,000-square-foot museum. The result is a building that allows visitors to see all the various levels and exhibit areas as they enter and circulate between them without the use of stairs or elevators. The large atrium and sweeping helical ramp make the six levels of museum space an ever-unfolding experience. The geometry of the 740-acre site dictates the form of the museum building, with its volume increasing as it follows its sloping site.

Photo credit: Art Meripol

Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa

Hoover: Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa

Hard to imagine that the Ross Bridge Renaissance Resort and Spa is just 20 minutes away from downtown Birmingham when it looks like it would be more at home in Switzerland or the Scottish countryside. Tucked into in the woodland and lakes of Hoover, the 240,000 square-foot resort features castle-like turrets, stone archways, a slate roof and a course on the Robert Trent Jones Gulf Trail. The award-winning project was designed by Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood and completed in 2005.

Photo credit: Goodwyn Mills and Cawood

Old Southern Progress BuildingOld Southern Progress BuildingOld Southern Progress Building

Homewood: Old Southern Progress Building

Nestled into a heavily wooded 27-acre site, the old Southern Progress building constructed in 1990 leans into its natural landscape and bridges a 35-foot-deep ravine, creating a lobby which appears to be hovering over the tree tops. The reflective glass form is anchored to the hillside with Alabama fieldstone. Administrative offices, conference rooms, a 100-seat auditorium, photo studios and labs, a library and 13 test kitchens occupied the 150,000-square-foot building. Designed by KPS Group and Jova/Daniels/Busby of Atlanta, the project received design awards across the southeast.

Photo credit: Lewis Kennedy

Gulf Shores: Fort MorganGulf Shores: Fort MorganGulf Shores: Fort Morgan

Gulf Shores: Fort Morgan

Condos and beachfront hotels aren’t all that face Alabama’s Gulf Coast. There’s Fort Morgan at the mouth of Mobile Bay in Gulf Shores. The fort was constructed from 1819 to 1934 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, mostly through the use of African-American slaves. Brick and mortar were the only local building materials, so other materials including finished granite, sandstone, iron work and cement had to be shipped by water from New York. The state acquired the fort in 1946 and today the Fort Morgan State Historic Site is open to the public and includes a museum focusing on the Civil War.

Photo credit: Lewis Kennedy


Florence: Wilson Lock and Dam

Neoclassical architecture is associated with many buildings such as the U.S. Capitol and antebellum homes – though with dams, rarely if ever. Wilson Dam on the Tennessee River in Florence is the only neoclassical-style dam in the TVA system, incorporating elements of ancient Roman and Greek architecture into its modern design. Constructed during 1918-1924, the hydroelectric dam is 137 feet high and stretches 4,541 feet across the Tennessee River. With its maximum lift of 100 feet, Wilson’s main lock is the highest single lift lock east of the Rockies. TVA acquired Wilson Dam in 1933. On the site are nature trails and a visitor’s center.

Photo credit: Alabama Historical Commission

Florence: Rosenbaum HouseFlorence: Rosenbaum House

Florence: UNA Campus Core

What do New York City’s Central Park and the master plan for the University of North Alabama in Florence have in common? Both were designed by the Olmsted Brothers, the renowned landscape design firm who developed the plan in 1929 for UNA. The Olmsted Brothers created a pleasing, pedestrian campus of shaded walkways, manicured gardens, fountains, sculptures and an amphitheatre. The campus core of the state’s oldest public university, founded in 1830, forms a dramatic, northern terminus to historic downtown Florence. The UNA campus is also noted for its many historic buildings.

Photo credit: Jason Fondren/KPS Group

Decatur: Albany Historic DistrictDecatur: Albany Historic District

Decatur: Albany Historic District

Wandering the streets of the Albany Historic District in Decatur is to discover just about every architectural style of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Romanesque Revival, Victorian, Queen Ann, Renaissance Revival and Craftsman, along with a few examples of Art Deco and Streamline Moderne, all represented in this leafy, highly walkable neighborhood. Secondary properties within the National Register district include the Princess Theatre and the circa 1980 Cotaco Opera House, the first opera house constructed in Alabama.

Photo credit: Alabama Historical Commission

Ave Maria Grotto Ave Maria Grotto

Cullman: Ave Maria Grotto

Prayer and spiritual devotion come in many forms. For Brother Joseph Zoettl, a Benedictine monk at St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, it came in the form of devoting a half-century (1932-1961) to creating the Ave Maria Grotto – a collection of more than 125 miniature reproductions of notable churches, shrines and other religious structures. Brother Joseph constructed the miniatures with discarded items such as tiles, pipes, marbles, costume jewelry and even toilet bowl floats and cold cream jars. On the National Register and a state landmark, the grotto is built on an old quarry within a landscaped four-acre park.

Photo credit: Lewis Kennedy

Columbiana: 4-H Environmental Education Center

Columbiana: 4-H Environmental Education Center

The Alabama 4-H Center in Columbiana has a strong identity with its lakeside environmental education center. Davis Architects met the functional requirements needed for the 14,000 school children who visit yearly and achieved LEED® Gold Certification, a distinction only one other building in Alabama and no other 4-H facility in the nation at the time had achieved. The building combines natural stone and wood with steel and recycled materials. Environmental laboratories and display areas on the lower level support the 4-H Environmental Field School, while the upper level includes seminar rooms, multi-function space and a kitchen. Students can study nature from an observation deck at treetop level.

Photo credit: Davis Architects

empire-buildingEmpire Building

Birmingham: Empire Building

When it was constructed in 1909, the 16-story Empire Building was the tallest building in Alabama. Designed by Carpenter & Blair Architects in New York and Renneker, Tichansky & Associates in Birmingham, the neoclassical high-rise features a molded terra-cotta façade and a terra-cotta cornice that wraps around the entire top of the building. The First Avenue entrance is flanked with monumental granite Doric columns. Iron pendant chandeliers adorn the ground floor lobby and an elaborate wrought iron awning overhangs the entrance. The Empire Building now serves as a luxury hotel.

Photo credit: Lewis Kennedy

uab-heritage-hallBirmingham: UAB Heritage Hall/Quad

Birmingham: UAB Heritage Hall/Quad

On a busy corner of UAB’s campus is Heritage Hall, a five-story, 91,750-square-foot building housing the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Completed in 2008, the hall was designed by KPS Group in association with Goody Clancy Architects in Boston and contains lecture and seminar rooms, laboratory spaces and 118 faculty offices, as well as a computer lab and a digital video editing suite. The monumental glazed corner element and cascading steps provide a clear entry while a two-story glazed atrium floods the interior with natural light.

Photo credit: Thomas Watkins


Birmingham: Stewart Perry Corporation

Reuse and reverence for the land are evident throughout the 16-acre site of Stewart Perry Corporation’s LEED® certified headquarters in Birmingham. Once toxic due to its proximity to coal mines, the lake on the site is now clean. Water silos capture 40,000 gallons of rain annually and a year-round vegetable garden is maintained on the property. Designed by the former HKW Associates in Birmingham, all of the buildings on the site incorporate sustainable materials and practices, such as ceilings and doors fashioned from salvaged red bald cypress trees, and oak flooring repurposed from a tobacco warehouse.

Photo credit: Stewart Perry


Birmingham: 16th Street Baptist Church

In 1963, a Ku Klux Klan bomb exploded in the 16th Street Baptist Church killing four young girls. Though this National Historic Landmark is forever associated with this racially motivated crime, the building is much more than that, having long served the local black community and providing a meeting place for civil rights leaders. The present Romanesque-style building was constructed in 1911 and was designed by Wallace Rayfield, the second formally educated African-American architect in the United States. After the bombing, a stained glass window depicting a black Jesus was donated by the people of Wales and was installed in the front window.

Photo credit: Lewis Kennedy


Birmingham: YMCA Youth Center

Bold lines, geometric shapes and primary colors energize YMCA Youth Center in Birmingham. The former Phillips High School gym was renovated for after-school and summer care of children in the city center. Designed by CCR Architecture & Interiors in Birmingham, the project includes classrooms, exercise areas, locker rooms, a climbing totem, an exterior pool, playing fields and a garden. The YMCA Youth Center won the Honor Award from the Birmingham Chapter of the AIA, the Merit Award from the Alabama Council of the AIA, the Citation of Honor from the Gulf States Chapter of the AIA, and the Outstanding Project of the Year from the Construction Specifications Institute in 2007.

Photo credit: CCR Architecture & Interiors


Birmingham: Regions Field

Ballparks are for watching baseball, but at Regions Field in downtown Birmingham there’s plenty more to do. Participate in family fun games, picnic or enjoy the food and drink venues and take pleasure in the park’s other amenities. Home of the Birmingham Barons, Regions Field replaced the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium when it was decided to build a stadium downtown and bring baseball back to Birmingham. The park opened in 2013 and its sleek, modern stadium was a joint venture of HKS Inc. in Dallas, and Hoskins Architecture and GA Studio, both in Birmingham. The ballpark borrows elements from Birmingham’s Sloss Furnaces and Rickwood Field.

Photo credit: MackNally Land Design

Birmingham: Jones Valley Teaching Farm

Birmingham: Jones Valley Teaching Farm

Urban farms are springing up across America and one is thriving in downtown Birmingham on five acres of once vacant property. Jones Valley Urban Farm is a non-profit organization whose mission is to grow organic produce and flowers, educate the community about healthy food, and oversee two community gardens. Produce is sold at local farmers markets, restaurants, farm stands, grocery stores and a Food Box subscription. Among the many programs offered are an accredited high school agri-science program, K-8 nutrition field trips, teacher workshops, preschool gardening, student internships, hunger prevention, sustainable farming and preventing childhood obesity.

Photo credit: Goodwyn Mills & Cawood


Auburn: Jule Collins Smith Museum

Step into the lobby and take in the magnificent multicolored, three-tier chandelier created by glass sculptor Dale Chihuly, just one of thousands of works of art in store for visitors at Auburn University’s acclaimed Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art. The travertine-clad museum contains six exhibition galleries, a 127-seat auditorium, and a café and gift shop. A large lake, walking paths and outdoor sculpture are also part of the 10-acre site. Recent renovations include expanding educational and public spaces, along with additional storage for collections, and improvements to lighting, acoustics and temperature control.

Photo credit: Jule Collins Smith Museum

Anniston: St. Michael's and All Angels Episcopal Church Anniston: St. Michael's and All Angels Episcopal Church Anniston: St. Michael's and All Angels Episcopal Church

stmichaels anniston

Anniston: St. Michael’s and All Angels Episcopal Church

St. Michael’s and All Angels Church in Anniston would not look out of place in an English village. Its many features express the Norman influence of Cornwall, home of the church’s founder. Built in 1890, the sandstone church was designed by architect William Halsey Wood, a finalist in the competition to design the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. Stonemasons from England constructed the Anniston church of local materials. Bavarian craftsmen carved the crosses and symbols. Those British stonemasons could comfortably worship here since the Episcopal Church spun off the Church of England.

– Photo credit: Donna C. Hole