Birmingham’s Dick Pigford elevated by the American Institute of Architects to College of Fellows

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Photo of the architects and staff at ArchitectureWorks in Birmingham. In the center, standing in the backline is founder Dick Pigford who was named to the AIA College of Fellows

Birmingham’s ArchitectureWorks founding partner Dick Pigford has been elevated to the prestigious  College of Fellows by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). He is the only Alabamian chosen this year for the honor.

Founded in 1857, representing over 94,000 members, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) developed the College of Fellows to recognize  architects who have achieved a standard of excellence in the profession and made a significant contribution to architecture and society on a national level.

The national recognition has been described as part “national all star team” and “Hall of Fame” for architects.

Pigford’s elevation to the College of Fellows recognizes both his leadership of award-winning projects, as well as his dedication to service within the Birmingham community. Only 3 percent of the AIA members have this distinction.

Community leader

Photo of the Jones Valley Teaching Farm building at Woodlawn High School

A renown Birmingham community leader,  Pigford established  SawWorks, a pro-bono gathering space for local non-profit groups that is co-located with the ArchitectureWorks office.

Many diverse groups have developed regional community projects out of SawWorks, among them: United Way of Central Alabama, Friends of Railroad Park Development, Cahaba River Society, the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, and Create Birmingham. SawWorks also serves as home-base for Impact America’s SpeakFirst debate program.

Additionally, Pigford co-founded the Tuesday Group, a non-profit organization of local architects, planners, and engineers to provide low and moderate income neighborhoods with quality design services. This group helped springboard revitalization efforts in Birmingham’s Ensley neighborhood through its partnership with the Bethel Ensley Action Taskforce (BEAT).

ArchitectureWorks office on Southside Birmingham. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

His successful architecture career includes a broad range of project types – residential, education, commercial, retail, institutional, and religious. Pigford’s expertise and passion for working with diverse community groups is evidenced by his long relationships with Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, BEAT, Kingston Coalition, and Jones Valley Teaching Farm, among many others, across more than four decades since he established his practice.

A generous spirit and legacy

ArchitectureWorks Founder and AIA College of Fellows honoree Dick Pigford

Civic leader Cameron Vowell noted that the AIA College of Fellows honor bestowed on Dick Pigford is more than an individual award, it recognizes his generous spirit and his family which continues his good works.

“For years, Dick Pigford has been an extraordinary and generous individual, giving of himself and knowledge.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with him on some projects. Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of working with his son Jay Pigford, who is a partner in the firm. He is of equally generous spirit and knowledge. So I think one of Dick Pigford’s greatest legacy is his son Jay,” said Vowell.


  • Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.