APLA Alumnus Tilman “Trey” Wheeler III Elevated to AIA College of Fellows

Auburn’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture (APLA) is pleased to congratulate alumnus Tilman “Trey” Wheeler III ’93 in his elevation to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Trey Wheeler
Trey Wheeler

Founded in 1857, the AIA consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods and communities. The Institute’s College of Fellows seeks to stimulate a sharing of interests among Fellows, promote the purposes of AIA, advance the profession of architecture, mentor young architects and be of ever-increasing service to society.

Wheeler, a partner at Tinker Ma in Chattanooga, Tennessee, has completed two terms as AIA Tennessee president and has also served as president of AIA Chattanooga. He has been the Institute’s Tennessee Government Advocacy Committee chair for 11 consecutive years. Over the same period, he has also represented the state on the AIA National’s State Government Network.

Beginning in 2015, Wheeler has led AIA Tennessee’s long-term efforts to shape the Historic Preservation Grant pilot program and advocate for a Historic Preservation Tax Credit. As a result, more than $25 million in grant funds has successfully leveraged over $32 million in private funds for preservation of some of the state’s most celebrated structures. Thanks in part to his work, nearly 60 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places have been preserved and now contribute to Tennessee’s tourist and business economy.

In addition, Wheeler has also collaborated with AIA National staff to develop the Institute’s P3 Legislative Resource Guide, which has been circulated both nationally and internationally and referenced in both The New York Times and Architect magazine.

“Trey has fostered a sense of ownership and enthusiasm among members to advocate for the profession and the built environment,” said Ashley Cates, Executive Vice President of AIA Tennessee of Wheeler’s honor. “His contributions to AIA are a testament to the transformative power of effective leadership.”

In addition to his work with the AIA, Wheeler is a graduate of Leadership Chattanooga, a leadership development program that pinpoints promising local professionals in their early to mid-careers. He is also an ambassador within the community, leading historical preservation efforts as a member of the Board of Directors for Cornerstones, Chattanooga’s non-profit Historic Preservation Organization.

At Tinker Ma, Wheeler excels in technically sensitive projects for a variety of clients, including state and local governments and institutions of higher learning. He has received an AIA Tennessee Award of Merit.

Wheeler has also remained active with Auburn and APLA. Since 1993, AIA Chattanooga has hosted an annual golf tournament to raise funds for emerging architecture professionals. Having studied at Auburn under the late Samuel Mockbee, FAIA, Wheeler played an instrumental role in allocating a large portion of the tournament proceeds to establish a new endowment fund for the Rural Studio. Since 1996, that fund has supported 27 students through the AIA Chattanooga Rural Studio Endowment Scholarship.

Trey Wheeler and Dan Bennett
Wheeler and CADC Dean Emeritus Dan Bennett celebrate the establishment of the AIA Chattanooga Rural Studio Endowment Scholarship.

Wheeler, a second-generation graduate whose father Tilman E. Wheeler Jr. graduated from the Alabama Polytechnic Institute (Auburn) School of Architecture in 1959, also serves as a student mentor through APLA’s ARCH 4500 Professional Practice class.

“It is an incredible honor to be elevated to the College of Fellows,” said Wheeler of his induction, which was held June 7, 2024, at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. “I could not have achieved it without an extraordinary network of support. Each advocacy effort required tremendous collaboration with my peers at AIA and my coworkers throughout my career. My greatest hope is that my efforts have benefitted the profession of architecture in the region.”

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Daniel Bennett