As one of the most prominent architects to ever practice in Memphis, A.L. Aydelott’s influence is not only seen around the city but also around the globe. Known as the father of Modernism in Memphis, he designed such notable buildings as Memphis City Hall, the Shelby County building, the Odell Horton Federal Building, Immaculate Conception High School, and the Sears at Poplar and Perkins, among many other commercial, institutional, and residential projects. He also created the seal for the City of Memphis that still is used today. Aydelott designed the first major hospital in Lima, Peru, as well as the U.S. Embassy in Manila. And while his design legacy is renowned, he also is credited for recruiting young, talented architects—most notable among them Francis Mah and Francis Gassner—to Memphis to work in his practice.
In the early 1990s, after architect Reb Haizlip returned home to Memphis to practice, he became fascinated with the modern structures he saw around the city and traced their origins to Aydelott and his firm. When Haizlip was elected president of the Memphis chapter of American Institute of Architecture in 2000, he sought out Aydelott and the two struck up a friendship. Before Aydelott passed away in 2008, they often discussed Aydelott’s legacy and what he wanted to do with his estate.
“’I’ve got this idea about traveling fellowships for architecture students,’” Haizlip recalls Aydelott saying, “and I thought it was a great idea. After another friend suggested he house the fund at a community foundation, we turned to the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis.”
The Alfred Lewis Aydelott and Hope Galloway Aydelott Memorial Fund is the largest architectural traveling fellowship for students in the United States; Haizlip is the trustee for the fund. Developed to encourage students to become proficient in architectural analysis, the fellowship is open to architecture students at the School of Architecture of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; the College of Architecture, Design and Construction of Auburn University; the College of Architecture and Design of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville; and the College of Architecture, Art and Design at Mississippi State University. One student from each of the four universities will receive a $20,000 Travel Award. With the award funds, each of those students will then complete an independent study of an architectural site abroad. A panel will judge each of the four students’ work and will bestow an additional $5,000 on the creator of the winning project.
“This type of travel and independent study, as well as the required presentation, is meant to prepare students for a career as an architect, where they will continually have to provide analyses of their work to boards, publications, clients, etc.,” Haizlip says. “And it’s a fitting legacy to a man who built his career in Memphis to use the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis as steward of this fund.”