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KNOXVILLE — University of Tennessee architecture students are rolling up their sleeves to design and build two more houses in Chattanooga, where they’ve helped build seven and assisted in the design of 18 houses in the past eight years.

The Urban Program in Sustainable Design Education (UPSIDE) provides hands-on learning experience for UT students while helping the Chattanooga community by creating affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families. Architecture students from Howard High School in Chattanooga will work with UT students to design and build the houses, continuing a partnership that started in 2001.

“For both the college students and the high school students, the program illustrates that education about sustainability is important. The students learn about energy-efficient architecture, design a house and then help build the house. The experience teaches work ethics, responsibility, community, racial reconciliation and teamwork, all while working on innovative housing,” said David Fox, associate professor in UT’s School of Architecture.

Twenty-five to 40 Howard High School 10th- to 12th-graders — some currently involved in the UPSIDE program and who will be involved in future projects — will visit UT the morning of April 27 to tour the campus and sit in on some architecture classes.

Construction is scheduled to begin in June on Carr Street in Chattanooga.

UPSIDE is a partnership between UT’s College of Architecture and Design, Howard High School, Chattanooga Community Housing Development Organization (CCHDO), Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise (CNE), Southeast Development Group (SEDEV), local architectural firms and local contractors.

Grant money, along with money contributed by the civic groups, is used to purchase the land and pay a building contractor, who then hires the students to help with the construction.

The finished houses are sold and the money goes back into the program.

The Howard-UT connection began about six year ago, and then UT-student Miriam Wohlfarth was put in charge of overseeing the high school students involved. After graduating from UT, Wohlfarth began teaching architecture at Howard.

“This program is fantastic on so many different levels. My high school students gain hands-on job experience, integrate academics into real-world projects, make a physical difference in the built environment around them, and are exposed to the world of college from the UT mentoring students. It is amazing to see what the effects of skills, success and relationships can do for any youth,” Wohlfarth said.

UT is looking at the possibility of starting a similar collaboration with high schools in Knoxville and Clarksville.


David Fox, (865) 974-3389,
Amy Blakely, (865) 974-5034,