January 21, 2015 UT Governor’s Chair Lecture Series to Focus on Energy, Urbanism Issues

The Governor’s Chair for High Performance Energy Practices in Urban Environments, a partnership between UT, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and engineering firm Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, will host three lectures this spring.

The Governor’s Chair Seminar Series, designed to address issues related to creating carbon-neutral and resilient cities, will be held on Wednesday evenings in January, February, and March. They are free and open to the public.

The seminars will include a 6:00 p.m. reception followed by a 6:30 p.m. lecture at the UT College of Architecture and Design’s new state-of-the-art Fab Lab, 525 N. Gay St., Knoxville.

The lineup:

January 21: Benton Johnson, structural engineer, will present “Urban Mass Timber: Rethinking Embodied Energy.” The talk will examine the use of mass-timber technology in construction. Current projections suggest today’s population living in urban areas will double by the year 2050. This concentration of people will have substantial impacts on existing infrastructure and create enormous demand for new mid- and high-rise buildings. These new buildings must be constructed in sustainable ways that limit additional carbon emissions. Wood has been shown to be the most sustainable structural material and can help achieve the low carbon targets of the future. Recent developments in mass-timber technology such as cross-laminated timber have surpassed traditional strength and fire limitations of wooden structures, allowing wood to play a role in mid- and high-rise structures.

February 18: Kris Takács will present “Leveraging Transportation Investment to Transform Urban Districts.” A practice leader for public transport architecture and transit-oriented development, Takács has a distinguished portfolio encompassing nearly forty projects including metro mass transit, light rail transit, commuter rail, high-speed rail, and intermodal hubs in North America, Europe, and Asia. He is recognized for his expertise in balancing functional, spatial, and operations requirements to achieve innovative design solutions that optimize passenger flow, create exciting destinations, and attract marketplace investment. The lecture will focus on how the future holds promise for city building that leverages public and private investment in transportation infrastructure to connect people in meaningful ways and deliver civic infrastructure with wide-reaching benefit.

March 11: Scott Duncan, design director at Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, will present “The Earth Project.” Throughout his thirteen-year tenure at SOM New York, he has built extensive experience in the design and implementation of complex projects in Southeast Asia, India, and the Middle East as well as the United States — including large-scale mixed-use, transportation, commercial, hospitality, and residential developments. He will discuss concerns about global warming and its effects on our planet. He also will examine why no one has looked at the earth as a design problem. SOM’s team of planners, architects, and engineers have developed a series of remediation plans that address agricultural production, reforestation, marine and fresh water quality, energy, transportation, desertification mitigation, urban impacts of sea level rise, and proposals for urban density and future development.

The Governor’s Chair for High Performance Energy Practices in Urban Environments is one of UT’s 15 governor’s chair positions. UT Knoxville currently has 13 of the 15 positions in the statewide program. The Governor’s Chair for High Performance Energy Practices in Urban Environments is the only one based in the College of Architecture and Design and is expected to act as a catalyst for change, bringing new research in emerging clean-energy technologies and sustainable planning to urban design practices. It is designed as a platform for applied research that will be a powerful contributor to urban development and economic growth in the state of Tennessee and the nation.To learn more about the Governor’s Chair Seminar Series, visit the website.

C O N T A C T:

Kiki Roeder (865-974-6713,

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