Knox Heritage to host conference on modernism

Jay FitzDowntown

If you love modern architecture, join Knox Heritage for the East Tennessee Preservation Conference – “Modernism in East Tennessee!”

The conference will kick-off on Thursday, October 26, 2023, with a lecture at the historic Bijou Theatre by George Smart aka Mr. Modernism USModernist, co-sponsored with AIA East Tennessee.

On Friday, October 27, attendees will enjoy a full-day of sessions focused on midcentury modern architecture. Registration is now open at

Pictured above is a notable midcentury building in downtown Knoxville that was originally Rich’s Department Store. The building was designed by Stevens & Wilkinson out of Atlanta in connection with Knoxville’s BarberMcMurry Architects and it was completed in 1955.

The simple form, large expanses of glass and glazed brick are characteristic of commercial mid-century modern architecture.

The undulating roof at the ground level is also a unique design from that time period. The original plazas were designed by the renowned, California-based landscape architecture firm Eckbo, Royston & Williams.

Now used by the University of Tennessee, the structure is one of the few stand-alone modern buildings in downtown.

Knox Heritage provided information for this report.


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