Not a garden-variety architect

By Diane Lyddon

Alex Block is one of two very busy architects at the award-winning engineering firm Crawford, Murphy and Tilly (CMT). He’s been with the firm for a little over a year and a half, lured here by the intrigue of the wide variety of projects. For all his hard work and dedication to his profession, Block was awarded the 2015 John Wellborn Root Honor Award which is given by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The annual award recognizes exemplary, noteworthy service and/or design talent of an AIA architect who has been licensed for 10 years or less.

Block is the current president of the AIA Central Chapter and was chosen by a jury of architects and community members for his “community work that makes him stand out among his peers – bringing architecture out into the world at large and engaging others in creating a better world.” Asked about his architectural influences, Block replied, “I have always appreciated Tadao Ando’s works. I love the apparent simple designs, use of light and form of his designs.”

Block received the award at the PechaKucha event which was held at the Hoogland Center for the Arts on August 27, just one of the many volunteer projects in which Block himself is personally involved. He is the city organizer for the event, which was started by an architectural firm in Japan (the name translates to “chit-chat”). This fast-paced, entertaining slide show has the participants telling a story with 20 slides and just 20 seconds to describe each one.

After receiving his masters degree from the University of Detroit Mercy, Block came back to his roots in Springfield where he was born and raised. He married a high school classmate, Missy, although they didn’t start dating until college. Alex says that along with helping his volunteer activities, Missy “provides advice and moral support for all my endeavors.”

He stays connected to the community through various volunteer activities. One close to his heart is Boy Scout troop 1. Since 2001 he has served as an assistant scoutmaster and treasurer. Block, himself a former Eagle Scout, has supervised camp-outs, merit badge activities and meetings. He enjoys helping kids so much that he also volunteers with Springfield School District 186’s Camp Compass Program for homeless and at-risk students during STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) week.

Block helps promote the workability and livability of downtown Springfield by serving on the Image and Design Council as the Chairman for the annual Upper Story tour. He is also part of Downtown Springfield Inc.’s promotion and event committee to help develop new community events and to organize current annual events.

Volunteering to help animal organizations is another one of his many interests. Using his architectural talents, Block helped the Forever Home Feline Ranch’s Rochester “farm” location by designing the inside of one of the buildings to divide it into four cat-friendly rooms. He also helped the organization with exploring the functionality of all the other existing buildings on the property.

He enjoys combining his architectural skills with engineering to take a design from start to finish. He’s very proud of working on a project helping small churches to become ADA accessible, getting them up to code with ramps up to sanctuary levels. He enjoys working directly with clients to help them achieve their goals.

“Taking a concept and making it reality” is how he sums up his driving force.

Diane Lyddon is a freelance graphic designer. She can be reached at [email protected].

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