July 26, 2017 Design/Build Project Earns National Brick in Architecture Award

The Beardsley Farm Education Center, a collaborative design/build project designed and largely constructed by students and faculty in the college, has earned the 2017 Brick in Architecture Gold Award.

This national award recognizes design excellence, resilience and innovation in architecture featuring brick. The award program is the largest of its kind in the country and is presented by the Brick Industry Association, the only national association to represent both manufacturers and distributors of clay brick.

More than 90 entries were reviewed by a jury comprised of national and international architecture, engineering and design professionals, and the education center was named the only gold-level winner in its category. In all, 35 awards were given, representing education, commercial, municipal and residential projects in 19 states. All entries must have used new clay brick in at least 50 percent of the exterior or paving material.

The education center used more than 30,500 bricks comprising 60% of its exterior envelope. General Shale donated all brick and mortar used on the project and provided support for students to learn the craft of masonry from master mason J.C. Newman.

“The brick detailing is both high- and low-tech, starting with ancient structural approaches that have been modernized through the innovative incorporation of weather-resistant systems,” said Jennifer Akerman, an assistant professor in the School of Architecture. “The resulting building is spatially lovely and flexible, able to serve the members of our community for many years to come,” she said.

The primary structure is triple-wythe load-bearing brick, detailed to take advantage of historic structural methods while also addressing thermal performance and water mitigation.

The education center is a product of the college’s nationally touted design/build program, which applies design excellence, environmental performance and social responsibility to many challenges in the built environment to address public need. More than 50 students from across the College of Architecture and Design participated in the Beardsley Farm project, led by professors Akerman and Bob French. The project spanned two years and opened in May 2016.

“The college’s design/build program excels at providing students with experience-learning opportunities that unify craft, design and leadership,” Akerman said. “Our students explored all of these ideas in creating this building made of brick.”

The CAC Beardsley Community Farm is a non-profit farm in the heart of Knoxville that produces food for local organizations that serve people in need. The education center enhances the farm’s mission of engaging the community by creating meaningful public space for the benefit of local residents, volunteers and the farm staff.

The new brick building serves as a home base for the farm, creating an entry to its educational farm, while providing a classroom, office space and restrooms. Students also constructed an amphitheater for the farm’s outdoor classroom.

The project was a collaboration of the UT College of Architecture and Design through its design/build program, the City of Knoxville, the Public Building Authority, Elizabeth Eason Architects and Merit Construction. It benefited from the generous support of General Shale, the East Tennessee Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, Paulk + Co., Stonepeak Tile, Keene Building Products, Columbia Forest Products, Baird & Wilson and many others.

Founded in 1965, the College of Architecture and Design enriches quality of life in the region and world through transformational design education, the Governor’s Chair for Energy + Urbanism, design/build program, key partnerships and award-winning facilities including the state-of-the-art Fab Lab.  The college is comprised of more than 400 undergraduate and graduate students in architecture, interior design and landscape architecture.

Some photos by Bruce Cole Photography.