Louis R. Pounders, a native of Memphis, Tennessee, received a BA from Rhodes College in 1968 and attended the Harvard Graduate School of Design where he received the Master of Architecture degree.
He worked for I. M. Pei & Partners in New York City and Boston, working on such projects as the Choate School Fine Arts Center in Connecticut and the Christian Science Church Headquarters in Boston, both of which received a National American Institute of Architects (AIA) Honor Award for Architecture. While working in New York, he co-authored a design entry for the Centre Pompidou Arts Center competition in Paris, France. Of the 699 entries worldwide, his scheme was one of 20 selected for Second Place recognition.
In 1972, he returned to Memphis to join the architectural firm of Gassner Nathan & Browne where he became a Partner in 1980. In 1993, he joined an old friend to create Williamson Pounders Architects (WPA) specializing in institutional, educational and religious projects. His work has received 43 national, regional, state and local design awards and many of the buildings were published. His projects include the Tunica RiverPark in Mississippi, which won a National AISC Design Award, Lichterman Nature Center, which received an AIA TN Award, the Alex Haley Interpretive Center, which received a AIA Gulf States Award and the Metropolitan Interfaith Association Headquarters (MIFA) in Memphis, which was a finalist for a 2003 National AIA Honor Award for Architecture.
A long-time member of the AIA Committee on Design (COD), Pounders headed the Twenty-five Year Award task group presenting the winning project each year at the AIA National Convention. He served on the Advisory Group of the COD and in 2009, Pounders became the National Chair of the AIA Committee on Design, the only architect from Tennessee to hold this position.
Pounders has served on numerous academic and professional juries including the National AIA Gold Medal/Firm Award Advisory Jury, the National AIA Small Projects Awards Jury, the National AIA Healthcare Design Awards Jury, as well as juries for AIA Western Mountain Region, Northwest & Pacific Region, AIA Alaska, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Indiana, South Carolina, New Orleans, the National Centria Awards Jury and AIA Memphis and Memphis Heritage. In 2008, he Chaired the AIA Awards Task Group and in 2010, he served on the National AIA Honor Awards for Architecture Jury.
Twice he has served as Chairman of the AIA Tennessee Design Awards program and in 1986, he was recognized by AIA Tennessee with its Distinguished Service Award. He is a member of the AIA College of Fellows and serves on the National Board of Peer Reviewers under the GSA Design Excellence Program. In 2014, he was recognized by AIA Tennessee with the William Strickland Lifetime Achievement Award, he is the first architect from Memphis to be honored. In 2016, he was the recipient of the Gassner Award, the highest award for an individual presented by AIA Memphis.
Pounders was a member of the Harvard Graduate School of Design Alumni Council, the Rhodes College Red & Black Society and the Board of Trustees of the Memphis College of Art. He is Professional Advisor for the Ruffin Chair of Classical Art & Architecture at Rhodes College and in 2005, he was named a Distinguished Alumni of the college. In 2012, Pounders was a Visiting Artist in Architecture at the American Academy in Rome.
In 2010 and 2012, Pounders co-authored two books on Mid-Century Modern Architecture in Memphis: A Survey of Modern Public Buildings in Memphis, TN from 1940-1980 and A Survey of Modern Houses in Memphis, TN from 1940-1980. In 2015, Pounders authored Frank, An Architect’s Dog, a children’s board book on architecture.
In 2006, WPA joined forces with ANF Architects in Memphis where Pounders has designed a new Library for Southwest Tennessee Community College, a new Fine Arts Building for the University of Tennessee at Martin and the West Tennessee Solar Farm Information Center near Brownsville, TN.s.