Modestly extraordinary

Chad Boetger
Thursday 08 Jul 2010

BarberMcMurry focuses on the small details for big picture results

Expanding their reach in East Tennessee, Pellissippi State Community College opened an East Knoxville satellite campus housed within an existing high school building in 2000. The high school, built in the 1950s, showcases the modernist style of the period. This area of East Knoxville, once a more affluent residential area, has experienced a period of downward economic growth and has evolved from its origins as an upscale suburban area 60 years ago, into a more urban environment.

BarberMcMurry architects was hired to provide a very simple facelift to the existing high school. The owner wanted replacement windows, canopies, and an ADA ramp connecting the front doors to the adjacent sidewalk. Through this very modest exterior renovation project, BarberMcMurry sought to maximise the architectural impact of a utilitarian kit of parts. BMa showed PSCC that even through those simple moves, their campus could be given an impactful new identity. By developing a window pattern that reflected the nature of the technical learning occurring within, and then carrying that idea of pattern to the canopies over the front doors and into the site lighting, BarberMcMurry was able to give this existing school building a new identity reflective of the community college housed inside.

The primary façade faces a major vehicular traffic artery, Magnolia Avenue, and is the school’s formal front door and face to the community. The design of the building entry canopies, the replacement windows, and campus lighting seek to reflect the nature of technology, learning, energy, and activity that will advertise the college’s presence and mission to the community. BarberMcMurry architects are proud that the project has been awarded for design excellence by the East Tennessee (2008) and Gulf States Region (2010) of the American Institute of Architects.

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