University of Tennessee Arboretum Auditorium

Oak Ridge, TN

Integrated within the landscape through the use of timber and natural stone

Oak Ridge, TN

University of Tennessee

Completion Date

2,500 SF

Project Type
New Construction, Classroom

Professional Credits
Studio Four Design

The University of Tennessee’s Forest Resources, AgResearch, and Educational Center (FRREC) is an 11,400-acre field research laboratory that is a leader in new technology for modern forestry, wildlife resources, and environmental stewardship. The initial request to add a new classroom wing to an existing building sounded like a practical addition for their programmatic needs. When soil issues led to further conversation, however, their dream for an outdoor gathering classroom nestled deep within the arboretum was revealed to the design team. We immediately sought to realize this great idea, while meeting the practical requirements and respecting the  budget.

“Aesthetically, it’s an indoor space with outdoor ambitions.” – Kevin Hoyt, Director of the FRREC/Arboretum

The new auditorium’s timber structure, stone fireplaces and terrace, and extensive glazing integrate the small building with the landscape. Inspiration derived from the forest manifests through splits and branches in the structural elements, rhythmic spacing of the storefront mullions, and a shade canopy overhang. The Arboretum Auditorium was an instant success, and especially delights those who discover the unexpected structure while visiting the grounds.

Brian Nicholson, AIA, LEED AP

Principal/Vice President
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