LEAP Collaborative


LEAP Collaborative


David Berry &
Sierra Jensen
University of Tennessee-Knoxville


William E. Martella &
Kevin Stevens
University of Tennessee-Knoxville



This project rises to the top for its clarity of addressing all ten measures. The communication of the solutions is graphically well represented, and the delivery of ideas is convincing and compelling. The project addresses design questions at a range of scales evenly. The response to urban site conditions is attractive, and the climate analysis and PV integration is solid.


1. The LEAP Collaborative is imagined as a collection of landscape architects, engineers, architects, and planners who contract projects with an emphasis on sustainable design. Therefore, for their headquarters, we wanted to express that commitment to sustainable design and display some of those practices clearly to the pedestrian and passer-by. One of the main goals was the clarity of programatic pieces. The retail approaches the street edge to invite shoppers. The laboratory, highly visible, pushes forward towards the street edge but is less accessible to the public by being raised up on pilotis. The multiple terraces are connected through the use of plantings that even move vertically along walls to connect plaza to upper roof terraces. The use of planting was important to bringing habitats and greenery back to an asphalt parking lot site in the middle of the city.

2. The LEAP Collaborative Office on W. Church Ave is in the heart of downtown Knoxville. The location has easy access to restaurants on Market Square and Gay Street, Civic Buildings including the library and post office, and parks. The city bus station is less than a half-mile away providing public transportation options to much of the metropolitan area and long distance transportation options via Megabus.

3. [a] virginia creeper (green wall) light: excels in shade and sun moisture: does well in seasonally moist climates [b] wild hydrangea (courtyard plantings) light: excels in shade moisture: does well in mesic and seasonally moist climates soil: non-acidic soil preferred [c] wild azalea (courtyard) light: does well in sun and shade moisture: does well in mesic and seasonally moist climates soil: does well in basic or acidic soil

4. Knoxville is characterized by a humid, modified continental climate. This includes cool winters with moist, warm summers. The nearby Cumberland and Smokey Mountain ranges have a pronounced effect upon prevailing wind. Daytime winds typically have a southwesterly prevailing direction, while nighttime winds usually come from the northeast. Wind speeds are greater than 5 mph year round, offering good natural cooling potential in summer. Our project implements a variety of plazas with different solar orientations that can be used during different seasons. The southern plaza would be preferrable in winter months with more solar access. The northern plaza would be preferrable in summer months with more shading and protection. The largest areas of glazing are positioned on the Northern facade which would have the least solar gain. Clerestories with overhangs are used on the Southern facade. Operable windows allow user control for comfort and natural ventilation. Green walls help shade the laboratory space on the 2nd and 3rd floors.

5.The LEAP Collaborative Office is seeking to be an example of a building that uses its surroundings to its benefit. Multiple daylighting techniques are employed including clerestories, lightwells, and large expanses of glass on the northern facade. The high amount of daylighting can limit electric lighting needs in most of the office space, but task lighting is to be included at each workstation for flexibility. Operable clerestory windows in the private offices as well as an operable curtain wall with push-out windows helps provide natural ventilation in the less extreme weather seasons.

6.Our design pays close attention to the usage of water and how storm water moves through the site. Landscape design includes green roofs with low-maintenance grasses and crawling vines on the vertical green walls. Vegetation in the plaza also uses stormwater that is irrigated to the planting beds. The plaza also features semi-permeable pavers to allow easy access of water into the soil and less runoff to the storm drains. Water is a valuable resource in promoting the reintroduction of flora to a underutilized parking lot in the downtown area.

7. The implementation of operable windows and considerations to daylighting are two steps taken to reduce energy usage in the building. The HVAC system chosen was multi-zone variable air volume to allow maximum flexibility. If for instance, the offices were not occupied on the weekend, but the cafe on the plaza wished to be open, heating/cooling would only be supplied to those spaces, not the entire building. The outdoor spaces are an important asset to the project, since meetings and demo work could be done outdoors in agreeable weather. The user is encouraged to spend time outdoors with the variety of spaces. The building materials are long-lasting and low-maintenance to prevent heavy, energy-costly renovation work over time.

8.Our design focused on using a durable material that is long-lasting and can double as an interior and exterior finish. Concrete served as the main structural material as well as a typical finish for heavily-trafficked floors and some interior walls. Concrete is made from simple materials: sand, water, and gravel, thus it requires less energy than many metal structures. The mass of concrete can help with thermal issues and noise transfer between walls. Wood and cork, easily renewable resources, are used as accent materials to warm the concrete. Cork is implemented in many of the spaces as a flooring to lower the noise level. Double-paned low-e glazing is used to reduce thermal transfer through the fenestration. Plant material is also a key material to softening the grays of the concrete and giving the building a “living” atmosphere.

9.The material choice of concrete reflects a desire for longevity of the building. Concrete will last for hundreds of years with minimal maintenance requirements. The structural system, two-way post-tensioned flat slab, allows for flexibility of tenant. New HVAC or lighting systems can be easily changed. Often the systems are left exposed to celebrate the many parts that make up a building. Different parts of the building can take different roles, as partition walls will be easily removed or added.

10. This project was our first educational opportunity to understand the complex implications of choosing certain materials or systems. We learned how certain goals can contradict other goals and tried to find happy compromises. Important research was done to look at the Downtown Design Guidelines for Knoxville, TN. A presentation of this design to the Knoxville community would be beneficial in understanding if the community would be receptive to this product of forward-thinking design in their downtown. Through post-occupancy evaluation, we would like to investigate how water moves through the site and if the various plantings would remove as much run-off as we presupposed.