HILLWORKS Recognized by Alabama ASLA

For David Hill, Program Chair and Associate Professor of APLA’s Landscape Architecture program, guiding a group of students on a hike through a native Alabama forest or grassland is as natural as leading a professional presentation for a client. David Hill is a registered architect, registered landscape architect, and the founder of Auburn, Alabama design studio HILLWORKS. Engaging the rich interaction between practice and academia, HILLWORKS grounds their work within the Southern ethos of craft, thrift, and resourcefulness. Consistent in David’s research is a rigorous study of plant performance as well as a focus on material harvesting and reuse strategies.

Earlier this year, HILLWORKS received multiple 2019 design awards from the Alabama Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).  HILLWORKS projects, “Georgia Tech’s Campus Center” and “Pratt Mill” both received Merit and Honor awards in the Analysis and Planning Categories. “Resting Pulse Brewery” and the “Dekalb County E-911 Facility” were recognized similarly with Merit and Honor Awards in Design.


The Georgia Institute of Technology invited three teams to participate in a three-month Ideas Competition to holistically renovate and substantially expand their Campus Center. The project included 110,000sf of adaptive reuse and 190,000sf of new construction, together with significant performance-based landscape development in the heart of the re-developing campus. One of the fundamental design agendas of the team was to make the Eco-Commons legible as vegetation and a functional hydrological system passing through the Campus Center.

HILLWORKS worked through an array of approaches of program dispersal that seek to create diverse environments and developed two predominant and distinct approaches from the process. Indoor and outdoor spaces were intentionally woven to create complex environments throughout the new campus center. Both approaches were fully developed to test a range of ideas for the new campus center site.

The Historic Pratt Gin complex stands as one of the South’s first industrial manufacturers, and a remarkable landmark in the heart of Prattville, Alabama. Daniel Pratt, the city’s namesake, began making cotton gins in 1833, and by the 1850s was one of the premier southern industrialists. During its lifetime, the Daniel Pratt Gin Company transitioned into the Continental Gin Company and later into the Continental Eagle. Throughout this legacy, larger and larger buildings were added to the complex, creating the current assemblage of industrial architectural typologies. After almost two centuries of fabrication, the Historic Pratt Gin complex closed its doors in 2013, making way for visions of reuse.

The historic factory complex will be carefully transformed into multifamily housing situated along the Autauga Creek, overlooking the historic dam that generated power for the original facility. The design proposal seeks to re-integrate the complex with downtown Prattville. Massive steel columns and beams are retained in the landscape, creating distinct outdoor rooms, while existing concrete slabs are carefully harvested and strategically re-introduced as paving, edging, and retaining walls.

The city of Opelika, Alabama owes its existence to the railroad. Located along one of the first rail lines between New Orleans and Atlanta, Opelika rapidly established itself as the hub of agricultural shipping, connecting the region’s farmers to lucrative distant markets. In the 1850s the downtown was bustling with cotton warehouses. After decades of economic shifts, vacancy, and crime, these cotton warehouses have begun to show signs of life again. The Cotton Warehouse District of Opelika has finally become an active hub for makers, artists, and creatives. Rather than imagining the Brewery and Garden as an introduced element to the Cotton Warehouse District, this project was conceptualized as an extension of the local stories and site histories of the place. The Brewery occupying the Historic Warehouse No. 7 has become a critical fixture in the district. 

Located among the southernmost extension of the Cumberland Plateau, the Dekalb County E-911 Facility offers critical emergency telecommunication infrastructure to the region. Surrounded by rural North Alabama agricultural fields and pine forests, the site strategy for the facility focuses on reclaiming what was once a monoculture of field crops and transforming it into an ecologically diverse meadow. Rather than a vast expanse of lawn, the richly textured meadow is a biological hotspot, serving as a haven for pollinators and birds. It joins forces with the patchwork of scrappy hedgerows and stream banks to increase the plant diversity within the region.

Related people:
David Hill, Kelly Homan