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Thermal Preservation

Logan Miller /// Nov. 21, 2019 /// Portfolio Vol. 1

Lib Render New

Thermal Preservation was a groundbreaking and pivotal moment in my design career, and in ways of approaching a project. The design was based around the preservation of a multi-use building on the campus of a historic black college university (HBCU), Knoxville College. The existing building, Wallace Hall, sat upon a hill overlooking the beautiful city of Knoxville. The grounds of Knoxville College had been shut down for several years due to a lack of funding, even though there remains a passionate group of people and board members who are trying to gather funding in order to make the college operational again. 

The depth of history and culture found in Knoxville college was unquestionable, making the task of giving back to the local community a necessity for the preservation project. After weeks of extensive online and in-person research, an idea of creating an educational hub for the nearby neighborhood came to life. A place for children to visit after school, an area for the local population to educate themselves with having reliable internet, and a space that would inspire positive change - a library. 

The former library on the campus of Knoxville College lies in a decrepit state. Having said this, thousands of important and informative books still reside there, making the decision to transition Wallace Hall into a library even easier. The concept was designed around the premise of light, with the physical structure acting as a literal beacon towards a better future. 

1. light + Process


Wallace Hall served as a dorm, hospital, classroom, and administration office throughout its functional lifespan. The building is separated into three main floors, with an attic and basement bringing the total to five stories. The vision for the future of Wallace Hall involved utilizing the basement as a separated storage space, with no internal access. This idea, coupled with the removal of the attic in order to provide a spacious double-height third floor, simplifies the architecture.


The first iteration depicts Wallace Hall after these changes have been made, whereas iteration two involved the first major changes in the preservation: creating light-wells in order to let in natural light from the skylight above. The third iteration capitalizes on this concept, refining the shape of the opening into organic curves, thereby accommodating the natural tendencies of egress patterns.

The final iteration of Wallace Hall's design maximizes the light and heat distribution in the building, providing a flow of motion that helps the entire building transition between floors in a smooth and appealing fashion. The changes in terms of thermal balancing have a massive impact on the overall comfort level of guests. Without the skylight or lightwells, several portions of each floor would remain darker and colder than normal. 

4th Iteration

1st Iteration

2nd Iteration

3rd Iteration

2. Fluid motion


3rd Floor Cut


2nd Floor Cut


1st Floor Cut

The library is built around a fluid path, specifically designed for the guest to experience and enjoy what the space has to offer. The main entrance is offset at an angle in order to usher visitors into the main lobby area of the building, rather than towards the staircase. The many curves in the light-well, and surrounding walls, beckon guests towards continuing their journey by ascending the wide and welcoming staircase. Upon reaching the second level, the inertia of walking toward the cascading light keeps guests moving in the direction of a secondary courtyard/social space. The top floor completes the loop of fluidity with an elliptical study station, doubling as the foremost light-well.


Each floor supports its own type of interactions as well, with the lobby filling the role of a space designed for mingling and connecting with other people. The intermediary floor being a space for closed conversations and individual browsing of books, with the top floor reserved for solitary studies and a semi closed-off meeting room with an office table and chairs. 

3. varied populations



Transverse Section

3rd Floor Cut

2nd Floor Cut

The Preservation of Wallace Hall is meant to act as a hub for the local community, ergo the building must be able to accommodate varied levels of population. The first floor lobby space has deliberately been left open for this reason, with all of the furniture designed to be moved. Above, different scenarios have been laid out, ranging from a crowded group of people mingling, to that of a quiet Sunday afternoon. Having the flexible capability to easily be managed is what gives a space longevity after its initial purpose has been fulfilled. This is what the preservation of Wallace Hall is meant to accomplish. 

1st Floor Cut

Longitudinal Section Cut

1st Floor Cut


1st Floor Cut

Wallace Hall Physical Model
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