News

Montgomery Interpretive Center Wins AIA Alabama Award

May 22, 2018

Visitors will soon have an additional place to learn more about an important event in Alabama’s history. The Montgomery Interpretive Center – which commemorates the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March – is set to open in early 2019.

Located next to the Alabama State University football stadium, the center is the third of three interpretive centers that connect Selma to Montgomery. Construction finished in April 2017 and the interior exhibit space is being overseen by the National Park Service.

Project manager Mike Shows of Chambless King Architects in Montgomery says it was challenging to come up with a design to reflect such a significant period in Alabama’s history, but one the firm was excited to solve. The project won the 2018 Excellence in Design Honor Award from AIA Alabama.

“Symbolism played a huge role and we were fortunate enough to work with a local fabricator on prototypes of the etching for the stone façade, as we knew it was the cornerstone on which the rest of the project rested,” Shows explains.

Site and material selection also played a major role in the design of the project.

“We were presented with a sloping site pinned between a major roadway and an existing football stadium,” he continues. “Light and form play large roles in every project we design, but the entry sequence and staging of a museum increased the complexity substantially. “

A large covered porch creates exterior gathering space and an entry. The site’s steep topography was navigated by setting the larger exhibit volume into the ground and terracing the ground plane along the main façade to the entry.

The primary facade captures the spirit of the march with an 18-foot-tall limestone façade featuring a sandblasted relief pattern that replicates the march. The cedar wood soffit and louvered wall express the subtle voids, or subtractive space, and entry sequence of the building. Dark zinc provides contrast to the wood and stone and emphasizes the line of the roof.

Micro-perforated zinc panels paired with wood louvers at the main entry porch create a sense of enclosure while appearing transparent. The exposed structure, angular white walls and linear lighting express an understated interior that can be adapted for the exhibition design.

Image 1-  Micro-perforated zinc panels paired with wood louvers at the main entry porch create a sense of enclosure while appearing transparent.

Image 2-  The Montgomery Interpretive Center – which commemorates the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March – will open early 2019. Site and material selection played a significant role in the design.

Image 3- The primary facade captures the spirit of the event with an 18- foot-tall limestone façade featuring a sandblasted relief pattern that replicates the famous march from Montgomery to Selma. The project won the 2018 Excellence in Design Honor Award from AIA Alabama.

Image 4-  The cedar wood soffit and louvered wall express the subtle voids, or subtractive space, and entry sequence of the building. Located near the Alabama State University football stadium, the center is the third of three interpretive centers that extend from Selma to Montgomery.

*Article Written By Jessica Armstrong and Images Courtesy of Chambless King Architects