On October 17, 2018 , AIA Virginia, the statewide organization of the American Institute of Architects, awarded Hays + Ewing Design Studio the Honor Award for Excellence in Architecture for the Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center in Charlottesville. The jury recognized only sixteen out of one hundred and ninety projects, and the Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center is the sole recipient for the highest honor in the Architecture category.  For this category, the broadest and most competitive, the jury considers “aesthetics, adherence to the client’s wishes, proven and projected building performance and concept development during its deliberations.”
Paul Schulhof, partner at Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, was the head of the jury. Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects is the firm designing the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago, Illinois.  The Jury wrote that they were “enamored by The Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center’s elegance of detail and deep respect for its context. The project achieves a striking balance with a strong form that remains deferential to its landscape, and should be commended for the difficulty inherent in achieving this.” Jury members were nationally and internationally known architects from architectural firms outside of Virginia.
Hays + Ewing Design Studio is a Charlottesville-based architectural firm. 
The Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center, in its architecture and programs, seeks to bring the landscape and river to the forefront and to highlight environmental sustainability and education.
This month, the Lewis & Clark Exploratory Center also received international recognition for its children’s program, “Rivanna River Diaries.” The Visionaria International Film Festival in Siena, Italy, announced in early October that they will be showing two films from the “Rivanna River Diaries” program.
For over five years, the Lewis and Clark Exploratory Center has been teaching children environmental awareness through underwater cameras that take both stills and video. Children are given underwater cameras to use from shore, photographing and filming the Rivanna River and Trevillian’s Creek, the stream that flows into the Rivanna beside the Exploratory Center. Participants are encouraged to document the environment underwater and above water. 
 Executive Director Alexandria Searls heads the program and makes her own short films to show the program’s participants as preparation for their own videos. The two films accepted into the Visionaria International Film Festival—“The School” and “Mountain Flows”—will be part of a children’s film presentation called “Food and Water: the New Generation.”  This presentation will take place on November 17, 2018.
“Food and Water: The New Generation” features short documentaries and fiction films on the theme of environmental sustainability. The films are meant to be easily understood by children, while also teaching them about natural resources. “The School” shows a school of fish darting in and out of the film frame.  “The School” was filmed near where Trevillian’s Creek enters the Rivanna River in Darden Towe Park. “Mountain Flows” documents one of the streams that lead into the Sugar Hollow Reservoir, revealing clearer water than what is downstream in the Moorman’s River. The Moorman’s River flows into the Rivanna River.  
“Children like to find things in the frame that aren’t obvious. In ‘The School’ sometimes you only see a fishtail swishing in the corner. The movements are fast and the children have to look carefully,” says Alexandria Searls. “Both the films examine water as a precious resource.”