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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Proposals for revitalizing Gay Street and downtown Knoxville will be presented Wednesday by University of Tennessee-Knoxville architecture students. Marleen Davis, UT’s dean of architecture and planning, said the design model will be shown to city officials, developers and others at 5 p.m. in the old Schriver’s department store building at 500 S. Gay St.

Davis said the model was built in UT’s Knoxville Urban Design Studio by students completing the UT-Knoxville architecture program.

UT-Knoxville student groups also are presenting ideas this week for the Kingsport, Tenn., downtown area to officials there, Davis said.

Since 1982, UT-Knoxville’s School of Architecture has held an urban design center in Chattanooga and proposed ideas for the city’s waterfront, downtown streets and plazas, she said.

“In Chattanooga, the work directed by (UT-Knoxville) architecture professor Stroud Watson has gotten the community excited and enthusiastic about the city. Ultimately, the excitement helps in the implementation of design ideas,” Davis said.

“The UT projects on exhibit in Knoxville include plans to reinforce basic public spaces and to diversify the uses of urban property on Gay Street.”

City officials this semester helped students identify important issues and concerns facing Knoxville.

Presenting ideas in a public forum promotes discussion and debate, Davis said.

Mark Schimmenti, UT-Knoxville associate professor of architecture who is teaching the course, said the Urban Design Studio at UT-Knoxville conducts community outreach projects and presents them in a public forum for feedback, comment and information.

“We’re hoping to be able to present a larger focus — the type of study that an academic setting inspires, and the type of study that can provide ideas, information and insight for the Knoxville community,” Schimmenti said.

Schimmenti is an urban design advisor with the Mayor’s Institute on City Design, a National Endowment for the Arts program.

“We believe very strongly that the center city is the heart of the region, and if your heart is not healthy, then you’re not healthy,” said Richard Cate, executive director of The Downtown Organization in Knoxville.

“Bringing new, fresh ideas from the students and others at the University of Tennessee has to have a positive effect.”

The presentation is sponsored by The Downtown Organization and the H.T. Hackney Co. It is free and open to the public.


Contact: Dr. Marleen Davis or Mark Schimmenti (423-974-5267)