MHM competed against 42 other architectural firms to win the commission to design the Art & Architecture Building at the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus.
The design features two long, four-story structures connected by a full-length clerestoried central court or “street.” The building’s overall form reinforces existing pedestrian circulation patterns and creates a barrier between student areas and vehicular traffic. The unifying feature of the design – the central “street” – serves as an extension of the outdoors and provides a focus for internal activities. One end features a sidewalk cafe, a natural gathering place for students and faculty; the other end is reserved for the construction and display of experimental structures.
Most of the interior space is devoted to lab and studio areas in large flexible lofts. Support spaces include exhibition areas, a library, lecture rooms, faculty offices and administration areas.
The building skin was designed to reduce energy consumption and enhance the quality of the interior environment. Operable windows and an open plan allow for natural ventilation during mild seasons. Clerestory windows line the central “street,” providing daylight to the building’s interior spaces, while overhangs and exterior Venetian blinds shield the clear double-glazed window walls from the midday sun. Deep horizontal sills and exterior and interior Venetian blinds allow daylight to be reflected onto the interior ceilings of the loft spaces.