University of Tennesee New Greenhouse Complex

Project Details

Knoxville, Tennessee


University of Tennessee


Higher Education


Architecture, Interior Design

Team Members



2009 American Institute of Architects East TN Merit Award

The new Greenhouse Complex on the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture campus utilizes a strategic and precious area of land. The mini master plan identified a fluid strategy and program for complementary and competing agricultural program needs. Fluid in that it had to accommodate the indeterminate flow / schedule of funding, maintain ongoing operations and experimental integrity while achieving the most “function under glass” possible from available funding. Planning of the “agricultural teaching village” required close coordination of academic and public users. Salient elements of the new complex plan were two new greenhouses.

The new facility features a spacious laboratory-style classroom, an auxiliary classroom for small groups, and ten state-of-the-art glasshouse bays, fulfilling the teaching component of the master plan. Primary programmatic elements are organized along two perpendicular corridors. Large windows flood this space with daylight and provide a visual connection between the classrooms and the glasshouses; linking the concepts studied in one with the methods practiced in the other.

Replacing four antiquated greenhouse buildings, the North is comprised of twelve identical state-of-the-art greenhouse bays, as well as a bio-safety level 2 work lab, sample processing room, and water treatment lab in a natural light-filled head-house. The facility is affectionately dubbed “the bug house,” as its primary focus is the study of deleterious effects of “bugs” on plants. Maximizing a minimal site, the head-house is pulled to the northern and western edges of the site, with the prefabricated greenhouse structure filling the balance of the site to the south, design facilitates a logical expansion, as the head-house bar will extend to the east, allowing an identical second greenhouse structure to be appended. The Project is a simple, yet elegant, solution to a utilitarian program. Metal roofing and wall panels share a clear-anodized finish with the adjacent Business Incubator building. The “campus blend” brick veneer wrapping the head house and base of the glasshouse bays is based on UT’s campus standards. The glasshouse system closely matches the systems used on two nearby greenhouses.

“This building presents a mundane material palette used to great effect. There is a simple sectional clarity and a connection to the exterior established throughout the corridors. In granting this award the jury specifically wishes to highlight the sun-shading detail and lighting detail that sculpts daylight to create a system of passive way-finding.”

American Institute of Architects East TN Awards Jury
2009 American Institute of Architects East TN Merit Award

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