The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Displaying items by tag: urban wilderness

IMG 2979Sanders Pace Architecture blended the collection of the decades-old cabins at Loghaven in South Knoxville with the existing natural environment.  Photos by Anna Lawrence/Hellbender Press

Loghaven: An award-winning natural and built environment in South Knoxville intends to get minds moving

Five years after he first saw the property that would become Loghaven Artist Residency, architect Brandon Pace was in one of the renovated cabins, listening to a performance by now-late composer Harold Budd, in town to perform at the 2019 Big Ears music festival. 

The experience brought home the full potential of a truly special place.

“That was wonderful,” Pace said of that moment. “You could see it being a place for a composer. You saw this could be something. You could see how our city comes alive in events like this.”

This spring, Knoxville-based Sanders Pace Architecture was awarded a 20121 AIA Architecture Award for the design and architectural rehabilitation work at the 90-acre Loghaven property, which is owned and managed by the Aslan Foundation.

“The role they play in supporting good design in our community cannot be overstated,” Pace said of the Aslan Foundation.

 Team member Michael Davis was awarded the 2021 AIA Young Architects Award.

On June 1, Loghaven Artist Residency opened up the application process for its second class of in-person residents, artists who work in visual, performing, literary, and interdisciplinary artistic fields.

“Save Loghaven”

Loghaven is a uniquely quirky part of Knoxville history. It began as a collection of log cabins in a heavily wooded area along Candora Road in South Knoxville.

The cabins were built as rental properties by single mom and entrepreneur Myssie Thompson in 1935, in the middle of the Great Depression. Her cabins, as well as one built by neighbor John Hightower, are the heart of the property.

Generations of UTK students and professors, young professionals, and others rented the alluring cabins. But by the late 1990s, the area was sinking into disrepair, with kudzu, privet, and other invasive plants growing up around the cabins and previously cleared areas.

Published in Earth

kincannonmariemyers   

Mayor wants green for green; some otherwise supportive city residents already aren't pleased with some initiatives.

Mayor Indya Kincannon's proposed Knoxville 2020-2021 budget commits some $30 million to reduce city climate impacts, expand its use of renewable energy, invest in urban forest preservation and outdoor recreation assets and improve bus and bicycle travel in communities across the city. The budget also provides money for revitalization of the Burlington District, a historic pedestrian center of Black commerce in East Knoxville.

The city's net budget is $384 million, which includes a $253 million operating fund.

The budget is just a recommendation to City Council at this point. 

Published in News

frsunflowersNot all of the Knoxville Urban Wilderness is true wilderness, of course. This monoculture field of sunflowers planted at the Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area does, however, attract lots of wildlife.  Courtesy Visit Knoxville

Spring study to quantify visitation, economic impact

Physically, the Urban Wilderness is 1,000 acres of natural and recreational land in South Knoxville. Visitors can enjoy hiking across Civil War battlefields, running on naturally surfaced trails, swimming in old quarries, and mountain biking on expertly designed tracks. But the Urban Wilderness is much more than a place. 

“It’s something special for Knoxville and defines us as a recreational community,” said city Deputy Chief of Economic and Community Development Rebekah Jane Justice. She was named the city’s first Urban Wilderness Coordinator in July 2017, and is still the city’s go-to expert on this ambitious, ongoing land-preservation and recreational project. “It’s about so many things, including building our local economy in a unique way.” 

The Urban Wilderness is, many will say, a boon to Knoxville’s economy, both in increasing tourism and for the businesses around it, including coffee shops, breweries, and restaurants. But hard numbers about its impact are still being developed. In 2015, University of Tennessee economics professor Charles Sims wrote a white paper projecting that if the Urban Wilderness grew to a national destination, it could have an economic impact of more than $29 million annually. 

Now that the Urban Wilderness is more established, actual numbers about usage are more easily captured than when Sims authored his paper. Matthew Kellogg of the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club said that his club received an equipment grant from the International Mountain Bicycling Association for trail-counter devices to quantify how many people use the trails — and where and when. Currently Kellogg’s group is calibrating 11 newly placed trail counters in the Urban Wilderness. By spring, the group hopes to be collecting reliable data. 

Among the things this data will be used for is a multi-year study by University of Tennessee kinesiology and recreation professor Eugene Fitzhugh, a frequent lecturer about urban trails their impact on a community’s physical activity.   

Published in News