Four reasons not to tear down Knoxvilles old buildings
an amazing change…a rebirth that has helped revitalize the city. It
hasn’t just changed downtown, it hasn’t just changed who visits and
lives downtown, it has actually changed the way the city feels about
itself. It’s amazing…and it’s ongoing.
At Design Innovation Architects, we have been fortunate to be involved in dozens of downtown renovations of all sizes—from the Mast General store, to the Medical Arts Building, to the more recent Lonesome Dove restaurant. And while each has individual challenges and rewards, there are some challenges they all have in common.
about what life was like 100 years ago, when most of these structures
were first built. It was a simpler time …for buildings and for people.
Heating and cooling? They had windows and fireplaces, perhaps some
fans, and maybe a simple boiler system. When designing with historic
restoration in mind, great care is taken to conceal the many large ducts
and equipment that provide the fresh air, exhaust the fumes, and
condition the spaces.
wiring? Minimal. The building would have had knob and tube wires for
the one light and the two electrical outlets in a room. Think about how
many gadgets now need to be plugged in and accommodated. It is by
design that the facility users don’t realize the existence of an
intricate network, behind-the-scene panels, and new large conduits and
Older buildings were built with fewer
exits, and complied with fewer life safety regulations. Over time, the
building codes evolved to address fires and disasters, and to protect
the health and safety of the building users and the first responders.
Our work is to redesign and convert these buildings to meet today’s
safety standards, while not diluting from their historic charm.
So, is it worth it to do all
these code mandated upgrades, and go through the laborious renovation
process? Why not tear down these old buildings and start from scratch?
The answer is yes, it is worth it, for many reasons.
is the intrinsic value of these magnificent buildings that are unique to
only Knoxville, and not your run of the mill everywhere building.
- It is well documented in surveys that people from across the generations prefer to live, work, and dine in historic facilities.
is less costly to renovate and bring these buildings into code
compliance than building new equal structures, and the valuation of
facilities is normally higher in districts with historic buildings.
are all aware of the need to reduce our carbon footprint. One may not
think about it, but by saving a building and renovating it, studies have
shown that the building’s carbon footprint is reduced by up to 70
percent compared to a new building.
preservation is an important goal. We want to maintain the charm and
character of our buildings. We want our children to see the beautiful
details and hear the stories that each building tells. That’s what makes
Downtown transformed from being a
scruffy city deserted after 5 p.m. to a place that gets noticed all over
the world.Kudos to all of those who have been involved in making sure
that we’ve kept Knoxville’s historic character through its rebirth.