2019 Young Architects Award Recipient
Emerging talent deserves recognition. The AIA Young Architects Award honors individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the architecture profession early in their careers.
Through his civic contributions and design rigor, Craig Clements, AIA, has distinguished himself as a steward of history and a role model for the future of the profession. With work that unites multiple fields—including preservation, urbanism, and art—he has made his mark on nearly every urban design project undertaken in the City of Savannah, Georgia, over the past 15 years.
Clements is a senior associate at Savannah’s Sottile & Sottile, an urban design firm that works extensively in nationally registered historic districts. He has been a tireless champion of the renowned plan for the city implemented by James Oglethorpe when he founded the Georgia colony in 1733. Working in the nation’s largest National Historic Landmark District has allowed Clements to learn from its priceless urban resources while defending the city’s urban patterns and form. The knowledge he has gleaned from his in-depth studies and interventions in Savannah have informed the design solutions he has implemented in historic districts nationwide.
Clements was instrumental in crafting a number of revisions to Savannah’s civic laws, most notably the National Historic Landmark District large-scale development ordinance. The first major rewrite of a landmark district ordinance in more than 20 years, it anticipates the integration of large-scale development while preserving the human scale that defines the city’s core. Clements’ contributions to the city also include the restoration and extension of its public spaces; he led an intensive research effort and public charrette to give new life to one of the city’s original public squares. He has developed numerous master plans to repair and extend the city’s original plan, and his Civic Master Plan for East Riverfront Extension received an AIA Honor Award for Regional and Urban Design in 2010.
The SCAD Museum of Art, for which Clements transformed the ruins of the nation’s sole surviving antebellum railroad complex, best demonstrates his architectural sensibilities. Urbanism and creative preservation are the central elements of the design for the museum, which houses the renowned Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art. Clements’ work there prompts a dialogue around art, architecture, preservation, and urbanism, inviting museum visitors and passersby to join a three-centuries-old conversation.
As a professor in the School of Building Arts at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Clements shapes the minds of his undergraduate and graduate students much as he shapes the city around them. Through his teaching he fosters a culture of collaboration among students and between departments, and in 2013 was instrumental in helping the architecture program receive an eight-year reaccreditation term from the National Architectural Accrediting Board. Working with faculty members and students across 12 of the school’s programs, he was the lead designer for SCADpad, a micro-housing concept on the fourth floor of an Atlanta parking structure that explored reactivating underused spaces in communities with plug-and-play architecture.
Clements possesses the unique ability to both understand the logic of a historic city and harness it in a progressive manner that leads to transformative development. His work is a clear representation of the ways in which existing buildings and thoughtful planning can lead to a more sustainable future.