Published on November 16, 2021 by Ashley Smith  
Protective Panel Members

Samford's Department of Architecture & Interior Design hosted members of the design team of Birmingham's new Protective Stadium on Nov. 11 in Brock Recital Hall.  The panel discussion included: Shelia Montgomery-Mills, Project Manager BJCC (Owner); Nolanda Hatcher, President, Studio 2H Design (Consulting Architect); Virnetta Woodbury, Project Manager, Brasfield and Gorrie (General Contractor); Liz Hyde, President, Hyde Engineering (Electrical Engineer); Lea Ann Macknally, President, Macknally Land Design (Landscape Architect).  Jim Griffo moderated the panel.  Griffo is an architect and interior designer who has taught at Samford for six years.

The all-female panel represented a much larger team that included many women owned businesses and project leaders involved in the project. The event was inspired by the March ’21 “Birmingham Business Journal” article that highlighted the numerous women involved in this project at leadership levels. “It’s empowering to look around and see so many women in every aspect of this project,” said Virnetta Woodbury, a board member and past president of the National Association of Women in Construction in metro Birmingham. “Having that kind of representation throughout so many skill sets is rare, but we’re seeing that more and more.”

The panel stressed the importance of a “team approach” and collaboration for project development to the many students present. In addition, they offered insights into coordination tools and techniques of the project along with the Covid-related hurdles the team encountered. They all expressed their pride at being part of this “community asset” and shared their personal career paths leading up to working on the stadium.

Protective Stadium is a 45,000-capacity multi-use, open-air stadium within the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex in downtown Birmingham and is the new home of UAB Blazer Football and will host 2022 World Game Events.

Samford’s Department of Architecture & Interior Design works closely with the Birmingham Design Community.  From field trips to local design firms and industry partners, to juries by area design professionals, students gain extensive insight into the professional community as well as acquire valuable internships and positions post-graduation. The panel encouraged the students to take advantage of these networking opportunities.

“Samford plans to develop additional programs that will not only benefit students but also allow the Birmingham community to learn more about industry leaders and trends,” said Griffo.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.