Three Parkhill Projects Honored by AIA Abilene Chapter

Category: Architecture

Written By: Travis Cram

Date: August 17, 2016

Three Parkhill Projects Honored by AIA Abilene Chapter cover image

ABILENE, Texas — The Abilene Chapter of the American Institute of Architects handed out its First Annual Design Awards on Tuesday night at its chapter meeting as Parkhill/Tittle Luther took home three honors. 

Parkhill/Tittle Luther’s renovation of the Bennett Gym into the new Bennett Physics and Engineering Building at Abilene Christian University was given the Honor Award – the highest award given by the chapter. The Honor Award recognizes the project the jurors unanimously felt stood out among all entries submitted. 

Parkhill/Tittle Luther also earned both Merit Awards for its Taylor County Expo Master Plan as well as the addition and renovation to Olney Junior High School. The Merit Award recognizes projects that demonstrated excellence in design and execution. 

“The AIA Abilene Chapter Awards is not a competition, but rather a recognition of excellence in architecture among chapter members, design students, and registered Texas architects who have designed projects within the chapter’s jurisdiction,” said AIA Abilene Chapter President Kevin Halliburton of Parkhill/Tittle Luther. 

Entries were assessed at the Texas Society of Architects headquarters in Austin by a highly qualified independent jury on the merits of the projects alone; Jurors did not have access to firm or design team information. Jurors were free to confer as many awards as they deemed appropriate for submissions received. 

Bennett Gymnasium is one of seven original structures on the Abilene Christian University’s campus, which was in founded in 1929. Designed by noted Abilene architect, David Castle, it became underutilized and in need of repairs. The need arose for facilities to accommodate the schools’ new engineering and physics departments. This led to the renovation and adaptive reuse of the historic structure. The building has been re-purposed to include flexible research labs, classrooms, and faculty offices. 

The addition and renovation to Olney Junior High included two small administration and technology classroom additions that helped modernize the original structure. Arched canopies and red accents unify the building with other campus structures including the district’s historic barrel-vaulted gym. Natural light and a vibrant interior color pallet further enliven the somber tones of the original interior economically adding years of life to a structure that was otherwise slated for demolition. 

The Taylor County Expo Center is home to a multitude of events. From concerts and trade shows to equestrian and livestock shows and competitions held in the large assortment of pavilions and arenas. The Expo Board and Taylor County Commissioners selected Parkhill to create a comprehensive Master Plan to modernize, expand facilities and create a state-of-the-art, pedestrian-oriented entertainment venue. 

Carlos Meija, a summer intern and student at Abilene Christian, was also honored on Tuesday with the Unbuilt Award for his design of a micro house. The Unbuilt Award recognizes unbuilt projects that are a conceptual design and demonstrate excellence in design and presentation of the ideals of the profession of architecture. 

The “Micro House Project” is an experiment to create a habitual space within a small footprint. It is characterized by ample amounts of natural light and functional amenities to accommodate a single resident. 

More about the Bennett Gym 




Bennett Physics & Engineering Building, Abilene Christian University 

Parkhill/Tittle Luther 

Juror’s comments: “Raw historic feel married well with new design.” 



Taylor County Expo Center Master Plan 

Parkhill/Tittle Luther 

Juror’s comments: “Project was ambitious and energetically presented.” 


Olney Junior High School, Olney, Texas 

Parkhill/Tittle Luther 

Juror’s comments: “Speaks well to sustainability, I would much rather attend this school than a brand new one.” 



Rehabilitation of Old Main, McMurry University 

Weatherl & Associates 

Juror’s comments: “Sensitive to original detailing.” 



Micro House 

Carlos Meija, Parkhill/Tittle Luther Summer Intern and ACU student 

Juror’s comments: “Strong as both a study and an unbuilt form.” 


About Parkhill/Tittle Luther 

Formed in 2012 in response to the growing demand for integrated design services in the Abilene region, Parkhill merged with The Tittle Luther Partnership, LLP (TLP). The merger expanded services to include civil, structural, electrical, and mechanical engineering, as well as landscape architecture, sustainability, and ADA accessibility specialists. The firm has built community in Abilene and the region since 1957, providing the full range of architectural services. 


Olney Junior High School


In top photo, the historic Bennett Gymnasium building has been re-purposed to include flexible research labs, classrooms and faculty offices. In the photo below, the Taylor County Expo Center is home to a multitude of events - from concerts and trade shows to equestrian and livestock shows and competitions.