Sustainability vital as Anderson Hall renovation nears completion

Sustainability vital as Anderson Hall renovation nears completion

July 10, 2014

With the renovation of Maryville College's 144-year-old Anderson Hall well underway, many of the environmentally sustainable features of the building are coming online.

Those features include a set of windows custom-built to fit the building. They are aluminum-clad with interior wood and a special double coating to insulate and help regulate interior temperatures. This increases the energy efficiency of the building.

A total of 144 windows will be installed, according to Barry Brooke, executive vice-president of Lawler-Wood, the owner's representative on this project.

Brooke pointed out that renovation, in and of itself, is an environmentally sustainable process.

"We didn't tear the building down," he said. "We saved the entire exterior of the building, and we've saved a lot of the existing structure in the building where possible."

Crews have installed new floor joists and added steel supports to the original wooden beams, and steel reinforcements have been added to the window openings.

When Anderson Hall was first built, the bricks were fired on-site and, Brooke believes, the windows were constructed there as well. It's rare for architects, contractors and builders in this region to work on a building of Anderson's age, he said.

"You typically have to go to a different part of the country to work on something like this."

Because Anderson Hall has never had central air conditioning, condensation on the bricks will be a real concern when the building's new, high-efficiency heating and cooling system is brought online.

A consultant brought in from Atlanta proposed the solution to this problem: narrow cavities will be left between the interior drywall and the exterior brick walls. Air will be circulated in this cavity to prevent condensation from forming.

'Smart' heating and cooling system

That circulating air will originate in air handling units, one of which is located in the cellar of Anderson Hall, and the other two of which are located in the attic.

These units pull in outside air and mix it with the heated or cooled air in the building. They draw heating from the Maryville College steam plant and cooling from a new high-efficiency chiller plant located in the basement of Sutton Science Center. Because the air handling units feature variable compressors, they allow the heating and cooling plants to save energy by running at partial capacity when only a minor temperature change is needed.

They are also capable of, for instance, cooling down primarily the eastern side of the building as the sun heats it up in the morning. And the new chiller plant in the basement of Sutton Science Center will benefit that building as well, maximizing energy efficiency.

Red oak floors

All of these technological advances will function behind the scenes, according to Brooke. What students will encounter when they first enter the renovated building is a modern environment steeped in history.

"Inside it will be like a modern classroom and office building," Brooke said. "We're heavily focused on energy savings, but we've saved and updated the building. We're doing finished red oak floors in the corridors and the common areas, and we're rebuilding the staircases using red oak as well. It'll be very traditional; it's going to be great."

Red oak is a favorable building material because, unlike anything petroleum based, it is a natural resource that can regenerate quickly, according to Brooke. He pointed out that the floors will be sealed with an improved, low-VOC polyurethane coating.

Students will also find drinking fountains on each floor that will be equipped with electronically-activated water bottle fillers.

Modernity in sync with tradition

Maryville College President Dr. Tom Bogart said that the emphasis placed on restoring Anderson Hall in an environmentally sustainable manner reflects the heart of the College in more ways than one.

"We’re continuing to respect and honor and develop on what was bequeathed to us by the people who started this institution, but we also continue to learn and grow and develop," he said.

"What we’re doing in this renovation really reflects the overall approach we take at Maryville College," he added. "We are taking a strong, 19th century foundation and updating it to be a state-of-the-art 21st century educational environment."

Bogart went on to point out that not only is the building at the geographical center of the Maryville College campus, it is also named for College's founder, and its iconic bell tower is instantly recognizable.

Inside the building a shaft has been built to contain an elevator, which to those with disabilities is a crucial amenity of modern life.

Bogart said: "We’ve explicitly from very early times focused on the College being accessible to all who can benefit from it. If we’re going to be accessible, we should be physically accessible as well as theoretically accessible.

"The goal here is for this to truly be a once-in-a-lifetime project," he added.

Future plan for environmental sustainability

In 2010, the Maryville College Board of Directors endorsed a Strategic Plan for Environmental Sustainability, which includes goals of a 15 percent reduction in campus-wide energy use and to have more campus buildings meet third-party green building standards.

Crawford House, a 137-year-old farmhouse housing the Mountain Challenge program, was renovated in 2013 and received LEED Gold certification. It is the oldest building in Tennessee to have earned that distinction.

And, once renovated, Anderson Hall will help the College move forward towards meeting campus-wide environmental sustainability goals, said Dr. Mark O'Gorman, associate professor of political science and environmental studies program coordinator.

In April, O'Gorman took his advanced class in environmental politics on a tour of the structure to explore what energy-saving possibilities were on hand.

"The students could see, first hand, the challenges found (and creative solutions the design and construction team came up with) in essentially placing a 21st-century energy-efficient dwelling within the shell of an historic late-19th-century structure," he said.

Classic interior finishing

According to Brooke, unifying an emphasis on environmental sustainability with the demands of a modern facility requires creative thinking.

"It needs to be a good environment for the students," he said, pointing out that once the drop ceilings and drywall are installed, the interior amenities will match those of other modern buildings.

"You'll have lots of power that you didn't have before; electrical power for laptops and wireless connections," he added. "It'll be like a brand-new building except that it has the historic bricks on the outside."

By Gerhard Schneibel, News and New Media Writer

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the Fall 2017 semester is 1,181.