The Great Smoky Mountains Institute, located just inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Eastern Tennessee, has connected people with nature for 50 years. Seeking to expand their programs, the institute acquired 194 acres adjacent to the park on which to create a Second Campus. As a framework for the residential environmental learning center, Hennebery Eddy developed a campus master plan that provides for learning, gathering, dining, and overnight accommodations plus office, meeting, and support space. Designed to pursue Living Building Challenge certification, the master plan envisions a regenerative campus that both restores habitat and operates carbon positive. Hennebery Eddy is now leading the design concept for Phase 1 of the campus in partnership with Knoxville architect McCarty Holsaple McCarty.
The site has two distinct areas: the heavily forested “backcountry” bordering the park, to largely be preserved for habitat and hiking, and the rolling terrain “campus” to the north, where the majority of buildings will be constructed. Site planning takes cues from the region’s once-thriving Cherokee villages, which typically saw residential groupings around a central gathering space. Campus buildings are similarly sited around a central meadow in a way that balances grading, preserves existing vegetation, offers dramatic views of the Smoky Mountains, and maximizes opportunities for passive heating/cooling and solar energy generation. Regional forms and materials are emphasized, blending simple gables with deep porches and a palette of glass, wood, and stone.