The challenges of constructing a new building on the University of Tennessee-Knoxville's urban campus are even more daunting when that facility is going to be located on a high-profile corner of the legendary university landmark, “The Hill.”
However, John Endsley and Ken Moffett with Bullock Smith & Partners and Glen Lindsay with Lindsay and Maples Architects are excited about the unique creative opportunities that the state-of-the-art electrical and computer engineering building offers.
The two firms have had previous experience with UT projects. Lindsay and Maples, in a joint venture with Barber & McMurray Architects, designed the Science and Engineering Research Facility (SERF), and Bullock Smith & Partners, also in a joint venture with Barber & McMurray, designed and supervised construction of the Plant Biotechnology Building on the UT agricultural campus.
The new ECE facility will be sited on the corner of Estabrook Drive, which runs behind Dougherty Hall and Cumberland Avenue, directly across from the 11th Street Parking Garage. The building will overlook a City of Knoxville-owned greenway, which is scheduled to receive an extensive landscaping upgrade.
“We are about to go into the comparable facility survey mode,” Endsley said. “We've toured several buildings, including the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga computer science facility and the North Carolina State computer engineering building.”
The architectural team also made a field trip to Olathe, Kansas, to visit Dr. Min Kao, donor of the $12.5 million gift that helped to fast-track the approval of an additional $25 million in funding from the State of Tennessee for the building. “We wanted to get Dr. Kao's input on the building prior to finalizing the program requirements and the plan,” Lindsay added.
Evaluation of the site is almost completed, with the exception of the sub-surface investigation, which will determine elements beneath the soil, such as utilities. Current plans are for the building to have a gross square footage of about 150,000 square feet. “Once we finalize the program and have the exact requirements for the building set, we can work on determining the total square footage,” Lindsay commented.
Planning the interior space layout is only one element of the job. As a designer, Moffett is also faced with the complex task of creating a contemporary building that still fits in with the traditional architecture on The Hill. “We are planning a brick exterior,” Moffett said. “It's a interesting charge—to design a cutting edge facility that still relates compatibly with the Collegiate Gothic style of the existing buildings. Since the location is so prominent, we want to see this building serve as a gateway to the UT campus.”
Endsley visualizes the facility as a focal point. “It should be an icon of the university to the city,” he commented. “Whether the building attracts visitors from the Convention Center or downtown, we want to make it inviting.”
The building will also feature an upper deck that will face east and will have a stunning view of downtown Knoxville, Moffett added. The college is hoping to break ground on the project within the next two years, and the projected completion date is late 2009.