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University of Tennessee-Knoxville

April 11, 2014

Through the Smart Communities Initiative, UT will partner faculty and students with cities, counties, special districts, and other municipal groups to engage in real-world problem solving aimed at improving the region’s economy, environmental sustainability, and social integrity. 

The goals of the SCI are to help students gain real-world experience and make valuable contacts in the community. It will be a component of UT’s new Quality Enhancement Plan, which in turn is an important part of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions on Colleges reaccreditation process.

The city of Cleveland, Tennessee, has been chosen as the first partner city for UT’s new service-learning program, the Smart Communities Initiative. The partnership begins this fall.

The University of Tennessee is investing in downtown Knoxville by renovating and furnishing a historic North Gay Street property for a new fabrication lab, studio, and gallery.

UT is leasing the 20,000-square-foot building known as the Jewel at 525 North Gay Street for several College of Architecture and Design programs. The building’s glass storefront will house a new studio and gallery, and two floors of industrial space will be designated for a fabrication laboratory known as the UT Fab Lab.

The first year will involve $680,000 in renovations and the installation of equipment and furnishings.

“Our new space on North Gay will allow us to continue to have a presence in downtown Knoxville during this exciting moment in the city’s revitalization,” said Scott Poole, dean. “We hope that our college can partner with the city and together envision a more beautiful, more ecologically balanced, and more livable urban environment.”

The building is just two miles from the campus and is accessible to students by public transportation. The project will serve as a living example of architectural preservation and sustainable urbanization.

“The skylighted space beyond the storefront is ideal for our new state-of-the-art fabrication facility that will feature 3D printers, laser cutters, and robotics in addition to standard metal and woodworking equipment,” said Poole. “The new technologies, in particular, will allow our students to work with 21st century tools, discovering both their limitations and the hidden potential of this equipment.”

This initiative is part of a comprehensive effort to improve the college’s learning and teaching environments.

Numerous college faculty have been involved in regional forums and development plans, including those for the Plan East Tennessee (PlanET) Consortium, an initiative supported by a grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In Clay County, Kentucky, flooding or ice frequently blocks access to emergency services. If a tornado hit the area, shelter would also be hard to find. A group of UT faculty members and students is trying to change this situation.

The effort known as Appalachia UTK is made possible through a $1.5 million grant over three years from the US Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

Over three years, the group aims to have a comprehensive assessment of the community’s health status, living conditions, and disaster readiness and vulnerability; an enhancement of overall wellness, including structural safety of homes and buildings; and the development of a community that has sufficient disaster preparedness training and resources. The project members will write grants to pay for costly updates and work with UT students and volunteers to implement solutions.

Clay County is an isolated area ranked 119th out of 120 Kentucky counties on major health indicators. Much of the population is ill-equipped to deal with a disaster because of poor housing, few shelters, inadequate sanitation, limited public resources, poverty, and lack of disaster education and essential reserves of food and water.

Participants from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Architecture and Design are John McRae and J. David Matthews.  



Tricia Stuth
, who was instrumental in the design of a nationally recognized energy sustainable project, the New Norris House, has received the James R. Cox Professorship.


The three-year award provides Tricia Stuth a stipend to be used at her discretion. Stuth is an associate professor in the College of Architecture and Design. She is a licensed architect.

The award is named for Knoxville native James R. Cox, whose gifts to the university through his sister and nephew, Charlotte and Jim Musgraves, helped establish the professorships in 2002 for faculty in the arts, theater, biological and physical sciences, architecture, and forestry studies. Recipients are chosen by a committee for their excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service.

Stuth led the design, construction, and evaluation of the New Norris House, which is now one of the most energy-efficient homes in Tennessee. It recently was named one of the nation’s top ten examples of sustainable architecture and green design by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and its Committee on the Environment (COTE).

The New Norris House is also one of the first in Tennessee to earn the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Homes platinum certification from the US Green Building Council. The house was developed by UT students in conjunction with Stuth and other UT faculty members.

Stuth and her husband, Ted Shelton, an associate professor of architecture, also have designed and built two homes in North Knoxville and preserved a third.

The project, Ghost Houses, drew the attention of international architecture and design publication Dwell. The homes were featured in the magazine last year. The project also received an American Institute of Architects National Small Projects Award.

Stuth is director of her college’s Design/Build/Evaluate Initiative (DBEI), a multi-disciplinary learning program. She spearheaded successful efforts last year for the initiative to be co-funded by the UT Office of Research.

Over the last three years, Stuth and her collaborators have received national awards including the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture’s National Design/Build Award and an honorable mention for the main award given by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. She also received the New Faculty Teaching Award given jointly by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and the American Institute of Architecture Students.


Thomas K. Davis
, an associate professor of architecture, has received a national award for his exemplary engagement and outreach scholarship. This was one of eight granted in the nation.

Thomas K. Davis’s program, which focuses on outreach partnerships in greater Nashville, was selected by a panel of university engagement administrators through the C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Award and the Engagement Scholarship/W.K. Kellogg Foundation Engagement Award program. The awards program seeks colleges and universities that have redesigned their learning, discovery, and engagement functions to become more involved with their communities.

Davis received a plaque at the National Outreach Scholarship Conference and was recognized during the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities’ annual meeting.

This is the third consecutive year UT has received an exemplary proposal award.

The first initiative of the partnership was producing “The Plan of Nashville,” a two-and-a-half-year project that developed a community-based vision and design principles for metropolitan Nashville’s urban core. The plan has been extended through Davis’ urban design courses, which, to date, have enrolled more than 200 students in addressing civic design issues in Middle Tennessee. The work was centered through the UT College of Architecture and Design’s partnership with the Nashville Civic Design Center.


First Endowed Professorship Named in UT College of Architecture and Design History

The at the College of Architecture and Design at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has named Lawrence Scarpa, an internationally celebrated architect, as its BarberMcMurry Professor, the first endowed professorship in the college's history.

Scarpa, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), will teach a design studio and seminar during the 2014 spring semester. 

Following the 2014 studio, Scarpa will give a UT student an internship or full-time position at his Los Angeles-based firm, Brooks + Scarpa.

Scarpa will also deliver a lecture and exhibit his work during the UT Church Memorial Lecture Series. A publication documenting the seminar will be produced.

As the design principal in charge, Scarpa leads an architectural practice that has received more than 50 major design awards. They include the National Firm Award from the AIA in 2010, and five AIA Committee on the Environment-Top Ten Green Building Project Awards. Scarpa also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Interior Design Magazine in 2009.

The BarberMcMurry Professorship was established to promote design excellence through teaching by a visiting professor, an internationally or nationally recognized practicing architect. It is the result of two gifts—a bequest from Charles I. Barber, one of Knoxville's most respected architects, and another from his firm, BarberMcMurry architects. In 2011, the firm's leaders, Kelly Headden and Charles Griffin, UT architecture alumni, matched the Barber gift to produce the $1 million endowment.

The position is also part of Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek's vision to create more endowed chairs and professorships across the UT campus.

In the last two decades, Scarpa has taught at several universities. He currently is a professor of architecture at the University of Southern California, where he was named the John Jerde Distinguished Professor in 2011. In 2012, he was a visiting professor at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.




The state of Tennessee is selling one of the greenest homes in the state - the New Norris House. 

The American Institute of Architects and its Committee on the Environment (AIA COTE) named the New Norris House one of the nation’s top ten examples of sustainable architecture and green design in 2013. It also is one of the first buildings in Tennessee to earn the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Homes Platinum certification, the highest standard for sustainability.

The New Norris House has received other recognitions, including a 2013 Design Build Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, a 2012 Residential Architect Merit Award for Single-Family Housing, and the 2011 Prize for Creative Integration of Practice and Education from the National Council of Architectural Registration Board. It also won the 2009 Environmental Protection Agency’s People, Prosperity and the Planet Sustainable Design Competition

The house is a technologically advanced reinterpretation of the historic homes first built by the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1933 as part of the Norris Dam project. It has become a nationally recognized model for efficient and sustainable living.

The UT College of Architecture and Design led the project, which was executed in cooperation with the community to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Norris community. Four other UT departments and a variety of corporate and industry partners supported the project. The project was launched with support from a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s People, Prosperity and the Planet Student Design Competition for Sustainability.


Julie Beckman
, the award-winning designer of the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial and the Space Shuttle Columbia Memorial, has been appointed director of student services for UT’s College of Architecture and Design.

In her new role, Beckman will provide leadership for essential student academic services that align with national best practices. She will be charged with developing partnerships with various industries to facilitate opportunities for students to gain practical experience. Beckman also will teach lower-division courses as needed.

She is a founding partner of KBAS with husband, Keith Kaseman. The firm’s awards include the Project of the Year from McGraw Hill Construction Magazine, a National Honor Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies and the Philament Award from the Illumination Engineering Society of North America, all in 2008. The firm also received a Design-Build Excellence Award from the Design-Build Institute of America in 2011 and a National Medal of Service from the American Institute of Architects in 2012.

She comes to UT from the University of Pennsylvania, where she was a lecturer in the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. Beckman earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Bryn Mawr College and Master of Architecture from Columbia University. 




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