A perfectionist, Dryden was known for having his red grease pencil on hand which he used on plans and walls alike. He was not beyond making an X on the wall of a construction site, so that an error must be remedied by tearing down and beginning again.
Upon his passing in 1970, the Board of Directors of Kingsport Federal Savings and Loan Company (on which Dryden served) stated: “Numerous monuments of beautiful, artistic and functional homes, churches, schools and other outstanding buildings are true examples of [Dryden’s] devoted life. He truly was a master architect.”
Dryden’s son, Allen N. Dryden, Jr. starting working for his father in 1950 as a “studio rat”. He was put to work at an early age and naturally stepped into his father’s path. Allen graduated from high school in 1955 and attended Georgia Tech Architecture School, graduating in 1960. After working for a couple of architecture firms in Atlanta, GA, he returned to Kingsport to slowly take over the reins of a growing practice his father had built. Allen N. Dryden, Jr. was inspired by a more modern hand but with a similar affinity of craft as his father. As a young architect during the JFK era, he brought to the firm an affinity for modernism. During his time in Atlanta he was influenced by the early work of John Portman, but had the foundation of classical architecture from his father’s early work.
The work Allen focused on over the next couple of decades included Mason-Dixon Lines, Inc. and Crown Enterprises. He also continued civic work with the City of Kingsport, as well as with schools, churches, universities and healthcare facilities. Dryden, Jr. also continued his father’s passion of designing private residences throughout the region, along with progressive residential communities like Crown Colony, a community inspired by Charles Moore’s Sea Ranch in California.
I was born along with my twin brother, Allen, on May 26, 1972 (the day my grandfather, Allen N. Dryden Sr. was born). At an early age, I could be found following my dad to his office after school and on the weekends. It was not uncommon to find me on a jobsite with my dad, wanting to learn everything I possibly could about building and design.
I entered Architecture School at The University of Tennessee (UT) in 1990, and incorporated everything I had learned from growing up in a small town deeply steeped in Urban Planning and fine-grain Architecture and design. I studied in Eastern Europe for a semester and after graduating, worked as an assistant for UT’s School of Architecture in developing an urban design studio based in Kingsport, created to teach the groundwork that Nolen had started for the Model City, as well as the work that my grandfather and father created through their practice. Needless to say, I was profoundly inspired.
Though my work post graduation, I was exposed to Nashville, Tennessee, and could see the city was on the verge of reinvention. In 1996, I moved to Nashville to begin my own career. I worked for EOA Architects for 5 years and was given many exciting opportunities, including churches, schools, civic projects, urban planning and residences. It was an invaluable experience. In 2002, I started my own practice, as it was hard to not see myself doing the same work that my father and grandfather had done before me. Their influence was profound for me and continues to be a source of both practical and intellectual inspiration.
In 2017, Dryden Architecture and Design (DAAD) celebrated its 15 year anniversary. DAAD is an award-winning architecture and interior design studio based in Nashville, Tennessee, established in 2001. We are dedicated to making meaningful human places that mindfully engage local resources and operate simultaneously as habitat and create a lasting memory. In many ways, our firm has continued the same work started by my grandfather in 1922.
DAAD has completed a diversity of project types, ranging from neighborhood master- plans, mixed-use developments, adaptive reuse projects, private residences, boutique retail, restaurants and corporate offices. We have focused on projects that have significantly impacted neighborhoods and we help to contribute to a healthy flora of the communities we work within, at all levels.
Architecture requires an incredible sense of dedication and creativity. My father just celebrated his 80th birthday and continues to do the work he loves. My son Emmett and my daughter Julia are already showing a familiar interest in ‘making’.
95 years is a long time, and I hope that I can continue the same bridge that my father built for me to connect to my grandfather’s foundation and extend that to my own children, far into the future.