Professor Behzad Nakhjavan, AIA, Chair of the architecture program in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture, received the 2013 Award for design excellence from the Alabama chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) at their awards gala on Friday, February 22, 2013. His design for a private chapel and memory garden in Abbeville, Alabama was part of a competition that was judged by a four-member national jury of both practicing architects and academicians outside of Alabama and was chosen as one of the honorable awards from total of forty-nine entries.
Nakhjavan’s design for the chapel and memory garden has its origins in the desire of the family members to remember and celebrate life through light. The design approach begins with a bronze entry gate to a walled garden that is set in a deep archway that is both welcoming as you approach and protective as you pass through it. Within the garden compound, the open structure of the chapel is a shelter from harsh summer light and cold winter wind. The shelter design is in the form of a truncated tulip flower— symbolic of spring and new beginning. The steel structure of the chapel is skinned with thin overlapping Alabaster panels from Sylacauga, Alabama. The translucent panels allow dappled light pass thru and in between the panels creating a heavenly place of repose and worship, with durability in both memory and experience.