UT Faculty, Students Design Learning, Community Spaces for Major Building Renovation Project

April 24, 2012

KNOXVILLE—Conception will become reality for students and faculty of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Architecture and Design as their design of state-of-the-art learning facilities at the UT Humanities and Social Sciences Building are constructed this summer.

The students and faculty members’ approved transformation of the HSS Building will include learning lounges, hallways, and re-envisioned use of new materials and color schemes.

The renovation will have a significant impact to the UT community. Nearly a quarter of all UT classes are taught at the HSS Building. Its last makeover, which included only new paint and furniture, was eleven years ago.

The learning lounge and hallways will introduce places to socialize, rest, study, and learn. These community gathering spaces will allow students to interact with peers and professors in new and varied ways.

“Our research and design reflects an idea that learning happens anywhere and at any time,” said David Matthews, professor and chair of the interior design program. “The corridors and lounge fill the missing gaps of students’ lives in the building. There are not many communal gathering places like this on campus.”

The hallways will be capable of transforming into studying or hang-out spaces through wooden installations that feature multiple tiers of shelving where students may sit, place laptops, write, or rest backpacks and books. The furniture addresses the three typical resting positions in a hallway space - sitting, leaning, and standing.

The building’s future corridors will also glow with illuminated wall panels that will highlight university announcements, information about classes, and digital art. Its learning lounge will provide niches specifically designed for study.

“The infrastructure for new technologies will be seamlessly integrated into newly designed rooms that celebrate the traditions and rituals of past gathering spaces,” said Brian Ambroziak, associate professor of architecture.

“We presented research stating that well-designed formal and informal learning spaces promote engagement, encourage students to spend more time on campus, and supports retention and progress towards degree completion.”

The creation of the design prototype was a cross-disciplinary effort between the college and other UT campus partners such as Facilities Services, the Early Learning Center, the Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center, the Sociology Department, and the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.

The lead faculty members, Brian Ambroziak and David Matthews worked with six undergraduate seniors to complete the design schemes - Dani Collins (Clarksville, TN), Claire Craven (Belfort, France), Jessica King (Glenmoore, PA), Mary Miller (Goodlettsville, TN), Annie Stone (Franklin, TN), and Megan Zolnier (Knoxville).

The HSS Building renovation will be complete by the beginning of the fall 2012 semester.

interior hall concept

C O N T A C T:

Kiki Roeder (865-974-6713,

Images provided by Brian Ambroziak:

Top: Students Megan Zoliner, standing, Jessica King, and Mary Miller, sitting, showcase the furniture installation prototype produced with Heuristic Furniture Shop in the Old City, Knoxville.
Bottom: Lounge and hallway renderings of proposed HSS Building interiors.

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