F O R    I M M E D I A T E    R E L E A S E


A Decade of Progress Builds Toward an Elevated Future

for the American Institute of Architects, Mississippi Chapter


AIA MS celebrates a decade with Joe Blake and Kristen Anderson;

passes the Executive Director position to Amber Lombardo


Jackson, Mississippi (April 19, 2017) – – For ten years Joe Blake orchestrated the plans for building the highly-regarded and successful Mississippi Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.  He began with five sheets of grid paper, sparse notes handwritten in lovely penmanship characteristic of the architecture profession.  It was a crude map of the organization’s programs, peppered with a password or two.  His assistant, Kristen Anderson, is quick witted, organized and can rattle off AIA policy as if it’s simply conversational.  The two, together for the past nine years, have worked with numerous AIA Mississippi leaders, members and volunteers to nurture the organization into a nationwide role model, gaining accolades for the annual AIA MS Convention, Mississippi Celebrates Architecture (an annual awards gala and lecture series) and the organization’s  Year-in Review (a printed annual report and membership directory).  They developed a unique partnering model, MAPP (Mississippi Allied Partners Program), to build collaborative relationships between architects and vendors anxious to serve them.  Each year, the exposition hall is filled to capacity during convention, paving the way for dynamic new business relationships that, ultimately, solve many of the puzzles of the built environment.  Their service will be celebrated at the coming convention, “Civics: The Duty of Design,” on June 23-25 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans. (Registration information is available at aiamississippi.org.)


Blake is pensive as he passes the reins, looking to enjoy retirement. Anderson would like to have more time with family .  Both have worked hard to build the organization and are determined it will continue to thrive.  To assure that, shelves of binders are filled, overflowing with history to guide a new executive director through her first days of familiarity.  A shared coffee at Cups in Fondren launches the transfer of  institutional knowledge to its new leadership.


“Joe and Kristen have been instrumental in leading our organization to financial stability and cultural relevance, and have been a joy to work with during my five years on the Board,” commented John Anderson, AIA MS Chair, and principal at unabridged Architecture in Bay St Louis.  “Relative to AIA Chapters in neighboring states we are a small group, but we have demonstrated a major commitment to the advancement of our profession, a commitment to good design, and a passion for collaboration that is a part of everything we do.  In recent years we have had three of our members elevated to the level of Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.  This alone speaks highly of our service to the community and the profession.  This would not have happened without the leadership shown by Joe Blake and Kristen Anderson.  Amber has big shoes to fill.  She has great energy, excellent ideas and wonderful people skills, and we look forward to great things for AIA MS under her direction.”


The newly named Executive Director, Amber Lombardo, comes from a background rich in design.  As the former Director of Programs for the Mississippi Heritage Trust (MHT), she was hired to develop the Mississippi Historic Preservation Toolkit, a collection of financial incentives and best practices for people wishing to restore historic buildings.  Funded by the Mississippi Legislature in 2015, the Toolkit encountered its first roadblock when the Mississippi State Historic Tax Credit was tabled for a year with no notice for developers who were depending on it for their preservation financing.  Lombardo penned a column in the organization’s quarterly journal, Elevation, outlining the importance of the program and encouraging grassroots advocacy efforts on its behalf.  The program was renewed the following session following an array of additional effort by MHT and its supporters.  Shortly following, the Federal Historic Tax Credit was deemed endangered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  Lombardo then refocused on U.S. Senators and Congressmen, visiting the nation’s Capitol with Executive Director, Lolly Barnes.  In February, at MHT’s 25th Anniversary press conference, the announcement was made: all six of Mississippi’s U.S. Legislators had co-sponsored the Historic Tax Credit Improvement Act.  Mississippi remains the only state with unanimous support of the bill.  For Spring Break, Lombardo coordinated visits for scouting youth with 9 Mississippi and Tennessee U.S. legislators to thank them for their support and invite them to in-district meetings. The program, From District to DC, was very well received and acknowledged at the “Preservation’s Best” legislative reception hosted by Preservation Action, a national lobbying organization in Washington, D.C.  Lombardo plans to continue the program in her new post.


In October 2016, Lombardo sold her 17-year-old, Memphis-area advertising agency, art gallery, digital print shop and magazine in order to devote her time to more fully engage in building programs in Mississippi, her home state.  She graduated from Mississippi State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in Architecture, Engineering and Marketing.


“Architecture is so much more than enhancing the built environment,” said Lombardo.  “The professionals I’ve had the pleasure to meet are in the business of solving problems.  Sure, they craft stunning structures and help property owners with the quirks of construction but the bigger, more societal problems are what I’m referring to.  Affordable housing, community planning, composing plans for schools that a district can actually afford.  Architects are a smart, seasoned group of people with specialized training to engineer creative solutions.  They are thought leaders in Mississippi.  More people should know that.  I’m making awareness my mission.”


Her first major project as the new director is to partner with the Mississippi Heritage Trust on the upcoming issue of Elevation.  Blending a love for the historic with a fascination for the new, the Spring issue will serve as a resource to promote the work of architects all across the state, starting with a story about Warrior Bonfire.  The “Build the Lodge” campaign in Clinton, Mississippi, is an effort to construct a space for veterans to share in brotherhood activities, including a program to mentor young boys.  “AIA’s involvement in a program with that level of impact should be shouted from the rooftops,” said Lombardo.  “Elevation will spread the word all across the state and, hopefully, help generate the funds needed to complete the project. Architects care about Mississippi, its people and its natural resources. We celebrate that.”  The issue will also feature MS MOD Fondren, a program of the Mississippi Heritage Trust and sponsored by AIA MS, that will tour modernist architecture in the Fondren community on May 4 starting at 5:30pm as a part of the Fondren Renaissance Arts, Eats and Beats event.


Based in Jackson, AIA MS strives to advance communities and make the world a better place for all of us to live, work and play. They view thoughtful planning, ongoing discussion and sharing of ideas among members and key constituents as critical to their success.  AIA MS was established in 1929 and is located at 509 East Capitol Street in the Mississippi State University School of Architecture, Fifth Year building.  For more information, visit www.aiamississippi.org or call 601-360-0082.


Since 2002, Filmmaker Michael Miner has devoted his career entirely to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, documenting the master architect’s buildings in such films as “Sacred Spaces”, “A Child of the Sun”, and “Romanza”, which covers the California work of Mr. Wright.

His Hollywood career established after the screening of the short film “Glycerine Tears” at the 1991 Sundance film festival, Miner worked on mostly commercial projects for the next 10 years, detouring briefly with another Sundance screened film “Serial Killer”, in 1995. Burned out by the Hollywood factory system, Miner would ultimately embark on two major road trips, taking the opportunity to visit many out-of-the-way Frank Lloyd Wright public buildings spread throughout America. The first trip, which lasted from 1995 to 1998, planted the seed of an idea for documenting themes of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in individual films.

The second road trip, beginning in 2002, led directly to the first Wright film “Sacred Spaces”, which documented many of his houses of worship and was completed in 2005. This was followed by “A Child of the Sun”, the story of the West campus of Florida Southern college in Lakeland, for which Wright designed buildings from 1938 to 1958. The third film in the series, “Romanza,” looks at Wright’s relationship to California and explores some of the 25 projects that were built (out of the 80 he designed) in the state over his seven decade career.

Miner is currently on tour with his newest film “Masterpieces”, which includes segments on Wright’s finest buildings, including Fallingwater, The Johnson Wax Administration Building, and the Dana Thomas House, among several others.

Check out this article Adapting to Climate Sensitive Hazards through Architecture” recently published in the National Hazard Science Oxford Research Encyclopedia. The research article was written by AIA MS Chapter member Allison Anderson of unabridged Architecture www.unarch.com.

Please join us for a special Highlights of Terracotta Cladding Luncheon!
We would like to invite you to join us for lunch and an AIA CEU Presentation, providing 1.5 HSW AIA Credits, that explores the benefits and creative applications of terracotta cladding. This event is sponsored by Terreal North America

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
12:00 Noon to 1:00 PM
Location: Old Capitol Inn | 226 North State Street, Jackson, MS 39201

Click here for registration form: 2017.03.29 Terreal Jackson MS AIA Invite
Presented in a visual array of information gathered from around the world, this presentation delivers key educational components that focus on the natural beauty of terra cotta installed in a ventilated, pressure equalized rain screen technique that provides benefits of exterior wall performance, insulating values, contemporary aesthetics, and ease of long term maintenance. The presentation also offers information on terra cotta solar screen design and its benefits; as well as displays the opportunity to use natural terra cotta as an acoustic solution for interior environments. Participants will gain a tremendous  understanding of the opportunities available with terra cotta construction materials in a wide variety of applications.

Check out this article in the New York Times about Mississippi AIA Chapter member Duvall Decker Architects. Way to go!

Jackson, MS – January 25, 2017 – Duvall Decker Architects, P.A., a Jackson MS architectural
firm, has received a notable honor from the Architectural League of New York.

Click here for the full press release.

“The Architectural League’s annual Emerging Voices Award spotlights North American individuals and firms with distinct design “voices” that have the potential to influence the disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design. The jury reviews significant bodies of realized work and considers accomplishments within the design and academic communities. The work of each Emerging Voice represents the best of its kind, and addresses larger issues within architecture, landscape, and the built environment. This year’s jury was comprised of Sunil Bald, Mario Gooden, Lisa Gray, Paul Lewis, Jing Liu, Thomas Phifer, Bradley Samuels, Billie Tsien, and Ian Volner. Emerging Voices is organized by League Program Director Anne Rieselbach with the assistance of Matt Ragazzo.


Find out how AIA Mississippi and ABC Mississippi collaborated to create a place for brotherhood and camaraderie for veterans by checking out this feature article courtesy of our friends at Portico Jackson.

Click here for the pdf version.

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Thursday, February 16
5:00 pm until 7:00 pm

Hors d’oeuvres and spirits provided.

Cuningham Group Architecture, P.A.
2554 Beach Boulevard, Suite A
Biloxi, MS  39531

Tel: 228 271 6930

Click here for event details and to Register

Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Clyde Muse Center, Pearl, Mississippi

Seminar Title
Build with Strength: Concrete Value and Innovation

Seminar Cost
$100 CSI member   $125 non-member

8-11     Seminar
11-2     Product Show including lunch
2-5       Seminar

Register online at:

This program is registered with AIA and will provide participants 6 hours of HSW credit.

Click here for event calendar.

Click here to download pdf flyer.

Get to know these AIA Mississippi “Masters of Design” by checking out this feature article courtesy of our friends at Portico Jackson.

Click here for the pdf version.

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