The Francis Gassner Award

The Francis Gassner Award was established in 1977 to commemorate an extraordinary architect, Francis P. Gassner, FAIA, who practiced in Memphis from 1950′s until his death in 1977. To continue his legacy of design excellence, of service to the profession, and of leadership to our community, AIA Memphis honors each year an architect or member of a related profession for outstanding contributions to the quality of the built environment in Memphis.

“Architecture is a reflection of the attitude of the community – a physical manifestation of what we think is the good life. It can be a vehicle to enhance man’s dignity. If it doesn’t do that, it is a failure.” - Francis P. Gassner, FAIA

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Jimmie E. Tucker, AIA
Self+Tucker Architects

Jimmie E. Tucker, AIA will be formally presented with the Francis Gassner Award at the AIA Memphis 65th Anniversary Gala Saturday April 14.

The Francis Gassner Award was established in 1977 to commemorate an extraordinary architect, Francis P. Gassner, who practiced in Memphis from the Fifties until his death in 1977. To continue his legacy of practice and service, AIA Memphis honors each year an architect for outstanding contributions to the built environment, the profession, and the community in Memphis. 

"Designing A Better Memphis"

AIA Memphis is proud to honor Jimmie E. Tucker, a native Memphian and founding principal of Self + Tucker Architects, with the 2018 Francis Gassner Award. Self + Tucker Architects has embraced the philosophy of "Designing A Better Memphis" since its founding in 1995. Jimmie’s dedication to improving communities across Memphis through practice and service, his unwavering commitment to fostering equity and the future of practice by encouraging youth to see design-thinking and the built environment as a means for building better communities for all, and his leadership in organizations such as The American Institute of Architects and the National Organization of Minority Architects is a testament to Francis Gassner’s legacy.

More About Jimmie
Since returning to Memphis from architectural practice in St. Louis and New York, Jimmie has made significant contributions to the architectural profession and practice in the Memphis community through dedicated professional service, community leadership in architecture and planning, placemaking, downtown redevelopment and neighborhood revitalization.

In a career that has spanned over 35 years, Jimmie has championed best practices in architecture, urban design, neighborhood planning and sustainability. Further, Jimmie has dedicated himself to making impactful, positive contributions to the Memphis community, particularly underserved and distressed urban neighborhoods. As part of the Memphis 3.0 district planning, Jimmie has focused on planning through community engaged design. Jimmie believes that better design can lead to better communities for all Memphis residents.

Jimmie has contributed to the fabric of Memphis’ forward looking vision to redevelop its riverfront through such planning efforts as the Memphis Riverfront Masterplan and Main Street to Main Street Multi-Modal Connector Corridor. Additionally, Jimmie has been engaged in initiatives including Master Plans for Memphis 3.0, Cleaborn Homes, Memphis Choice Neighborhoods, Robert R. Church Park, Uptown West, Memphis BioWorks and Memphis Heritage Trail. These plans speak to Jimmie’s passion for Memphis and the role of architects as leaders in community shaping. He has led community planning and neighborhood revitalization initiatives for South Memphis/Soulsville USA and Orange Mound.

The firm has been a leader, not only in placemaking, but also in “placesaving” through historic preservation and adaptive re-use. Jimmie led the redevelopment of the historic Universal Life Insurance Building in Memphis, successfully having it listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Other preservation projects include the revitalization of Lauderdale Courts, the stabilization of Clayborn Temple and Clayborn Temple Reborn. Focusing on South Memphis, Self + Tucker initiated the process of having LeMoyne-College listed on the National Register as an historic district and worked to preserve the presidents home, Sweeney Hall, the original structure, Steele Hall which also received a preservation award from Memphis Heritage, Brownlee Hall and Hollis Price Library. Following his belief that better design can lead to better communities, Jimmie has a passion for the development of quality, affordable housing. Notable projects include the previously mentioned Lauderdale Courts, LeMoyne Gardens Hope VI redevelopment, and each phase of Heritage Landing (formerly Cleaborn Homes).

As an adjunct professor of architecture at the University of Memphis, Jimmie has helped students gain insights into the profession and practice of architecture, not simply from theory, but has inspired passion for design, sustainability, community engagement and social responsibility. “We have a duty to give back to our community,” is Jimmie’s core belief. Through office tours, site tours and one-on-one mentoring, Jimmie has help expose the youth of the Memphis community to the field of architecture. He also served as advisor to Masters Degree candidates on their respective theses.

In service to the profession of architecture, Jimmie has served as President of the Memphis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), a founder and first President of the Memphis Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), and has served on the Downtown Memphis Design Review Board, Urban Land Institute, United Housing and the U. S. Green Building Council.

Self + Tucker Architects has garnered over 30 national, regional and local design awards for their work on such diverse commissions as Memphis Heritage Trail, FedEx Forum, Ground Transportation Facility at Memphis International Airport, Big River Crossing, National Civil Rights Museum and Teach for America tenant buildout. Other cultural projects include the STAX Museum of American Soul Music campus projects and the Interpretive Center at T. O. Fuller State Park.

Today communities around the globe are faced with unprecedented challenges. Architects, like Jimmie, are working with others to advance the quality of life and protect the public’s health, safety and welfare - for all. 

Previous Gassner Award Recipients

2017 - James F. Williamson, FAIA
2016 - Louis R. Pounders, FAIA
2015 - Heather B. Koury, Hon. AIA
2014 – Todd Walker, FAIA
2013 – Keith Kays, AIA
2012 - Shirley C. Raines
2011 - Michael Hagge & Sherry Bryan
2010 - Joseph P. Hagan, AIA
2009 - Martin Gorman Jr, AIA
2008 - Jim Lutz, AIA
2007 - Joseph “Pitt” Hyde, III
2006 – Henry Frank Ricks, Jr., FAIA
2003 – Robert Browne
2002 – Eugene E. Burr, AIA
2001 – Jack A. Belz
2000 – Robert J. Fleming, AIA
1999 – Kirk Bobo, FAIA
1998 – J. Granville Taylor, AIA
1997 – Mertie Buckman
1996 – Lee Askew, III, FAIA
1994 – Antonio Bologna, FAIA
1993 – Jack R. Tucker, Jr., FAIA
1992 – William Roberts Eissler
1991 – Gregory O. Hnedak, FAIA
1990 – William H. Gaskill, AIA
1988 – Dr. J. Richard Gruber
1987 – Morrie Moss
1986 – Henry M. Turley, Jr.
1985 – Francis Mah, AIA
1984 – Eleanor Hughes
1982 – Roy P. Harrover, FAIA
1981 – Thomas Nathan, FAIA
1980 – Edward (Ted) Rust
1979 – Clayton Dekle, FAIA
1978 – Zeno Yeates, FAIA
1977 – William P. Cox, FAIA