The College of Architecture and Design is improving its facilities over the next year through renovations and upgrades to the Art and Architecture Building and its newly acquired facility in downtown Knoxville.
A total of $2.5 million is being dedicated to mechanical upgrades, design lab equipment, and state-of-the-art digital fabrication tools to create new collaborative environments throughout the Art and Architecture Building. It will feature study areas for students, lighting upgrades, updated restrooms, a redesigned Student Services Center, upgraded student breakout labs, and state-of-the-art digital panel displays for group projects, as well as two new kitchenettes designed by students.
Advanced design laboratories, or studios, will feature 400 new student work stations to replace decades-old equipment. Each student will have a work space with a new desk, chair, storage system, lighting, and computer monitors for design projects.
“Through our exceptional faculty and their nationally recognized work, our college is emerging as a leader in the areas of sustainability and urbanization,” said Scott Poole, dean of the college. “Our goal is to create the best teaching and learning environments for our students and faculty through new spaces and equipment on par with contemporary design practice. We want our students to be excited, inspired, and proud of our facilities.”
The College of Architecture and Design is home to three disciplines—architecture, interior design, and landscape architecture. This fall, the college will welcome its most diverse incoming class in recent years with students hailing from twelve states and five countries.
As part of the renovations, $250,000 of the total sum will go toward a new design laboratory for the incoming Governor’s Chair—a research team led by Phil Enquist from internationally recognized architecture, engineering, and design firm, Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill LLP. Over five years, the team will investigate regenerative energy strategies and urban density through a joint appointment between UT and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The Governor’s Chair work will occur in the college’s recently acquired 20,000 square-foot fabrication facility and design studio at 525 N. Gay Street, referred to as the Fab Lab. The facility will have more than $600,000 in new equipment, including computer-aided design and manufacturing machinery such as computer numerically controlled mills, laser cutters, 3D printers, and robotics. High-performance metal fabrication materials including digital lathes and mills will complement the college’s existing wood shop equipment in the Art and Architecture Building.
“Our new facilities provide us with the capacity to realize projects that were beyond our reach in the past,” Poole said. “I am excited by the possibilities. We are convinced that our new facilities will enable our faculty and students to achieve new levels of excellence.”
The improvements are part of the changes that have occurred under the college’s new administration, which has been reshaped since 2011. Over the last three years, they have created an office for student services and advising, acquired new furniture and workspaces for students, improved staff work areas, created new spaces for the growing leadership and faculty, removed graffiti in the building, and refurbished the building’s primary auditorium.
The college also has helped bring about a research partnership with furnisher Herman-Miller to create an advanced design studio lab for students and established a new gallery with storefront exhibits at the college’s 500 S. Gay Street Downtown Studio.
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