Architect Jared Hueter, of Chattanooga architecture firm, Cogent Studio, recently welcomed architects from the region and as far away as Australia to Chattanooga, to be a part of a yearlong, public design exhibition.
“This is the first public architecture exhibit that has ever happened in the state of Tennessee,” says Hueter. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Tennessee, and River City Company recently sponsored a design competition. Over 70 entries were submitted from around the world. There were entries from major cities, including Barcelona, Paris, New York and Tokyo, and from smaller regional cities. The goal was to enliven four designated alleyways, each receiving $8,000-$12,000 in investment from sponsors, within Chattanooga’s 140-acre Innovation District.
“We received tremendous local support,” says Jason Ennis, an intern architect with Cogent. “Both from property owners and contractors who have donated their time and services.” The launch of the exhibit coincided with the annual AIA Conference. “We wanted to inspire the group,” says Hueter. “We wanted the conference to include more than just talk, but something unique. The response was phenomenal and the winning selections were made by two separate juries.” The exhibition has been curated by Heuter and Ennis.
In August, AIA Tennessee hosted Party in the Passageway, where each outdoor installation opened. “We see this exhibition as an opportunity to communicate the value of design to the public,” says Hueter. Traditionally, alleyways in the United States have been places to avoid, but he says, “Why not make them enjoyable?”
Hueter’s vision of creating beautiful, accessible places in the heart of downtown is shared by urban design and development specialists like Amy Donahue at the River City Company.
“A city is never finished and its size is also limited. It’s important to find and reclaim spaces in our Downtown that can add to the public realm. Alleyways are perfect candidates for this type of reclamation. We hope with these installations that we can create pockets of beauty, interest and community use. That these alleyways will no longer be places people pass by but places that people enjoy,” says Donahue.
Similar projects have been facilitated in Austin, Texas and Seattle, Washington. The call was for transformative alleyway proposals that were safe for public use, have the ability to be constructed in a week and could stand for one year.
Exhibiter Craig Peavey says, “Jared and his collaborators worked long hours to put the Passageways exhibit together. It’s really a first for Chattanooga.”
Grass Garden Inversion, Chattanooga, TN
Stage Genies, Chattanooga, TN
Urban Chandelier, Sidney, Australia
Neural Alley, New York City, NY
Stargaze, Brooklyn, NY
Passageways sponsors include The Benwood and Lyndhurst Foundations, Cogent Studio, Causeway, Artsbuild, Mozilla, The National Science Foundation and Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union. The exhibit is made possible by the property owners who have offered the alley locations. And, by the local architects and construction professionals who have offered their skills and assistance in assembling the installations.
AIA Tennessee has also co-sponsored the Learn by Design program for urban youth this past summer with Footprints Foundation, green|spaces and Hamilton County Schools. Learn by Design culminated with a large design-build project based on the youth’s designs and was built at the Chattanooga Public Library during the Tennessee Chapter of the American Institute of Architect’s State Convention held in August.
Photography courtesy of River City Company