Duda/Paine Architects Unviels Plans For 'New Blue' In Downtown Chattanooga

July 17, 2006

Durham, NC (June 25, 2006) /PRNewswire/ – Turan Duda, design principal of Duda/Paine Architects, and Roger Staubach, the former football star whose real estate consulting firm will oversee the undertaking, unveiled models in Chattanooga, TN, of nearly 1 million-sq. ft. of city campus for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee (BCBST). Five interconnected five-story buildings will unite up to 4,500 employees from 10 city locations in a work environment designed to enhance the company’s mission, called “New Blue,” to become a knowledge-driven, wellness-focused service provider. With groundbreaking slated for September, the new headquarters will be one of the largest construction projects in the city’s history.

Set on a 12-acre plateau atop the city’s historic Cameron Hill, the campus will offer panoramic views of downtown and the Tennessee River. The prominent site will also make the campus a visible landmark on Chattanooga’s skyline. Calling the site “magnificent,” Turan Duda said, “The Acropolis-like location informed every aspect of the master plan and building design. Here was a welcome challenge not only to design an innovative headquarters, but to weave a massive, highly-visible campus into the fabric of the city.”

Toward that end, the master plan will transform the 40-plus acres of Cameron Hill into a park-like setting of public and private gardens, manmade lakes and preserved forest land. The sustainably designed landscape will also embrace a small, existing Civil War memorial park, giving it pride of place in the new setting. Pathways carved for walking and jogging will extend down the slopes of the hill and connect to the city’s Riverwalk and downtown. The massive parking garage needed for the campus is tucked discreetly but accessibly below sightlines into the hill’s terraced southern slopes.

Further connecting the campus to the city it overlooks, the Duda/Paine design divides BCBST’s monolithic space needs into four, 200,000-sq. ft. buildings arranged in a radial pattern that opens out toward the city. The buildings are carefully sited along the city’s grid pattern, as if the grid extended up Cameron Hill. “With this arrangement, we create a perceptual connection between the BCBST campus and downtown. The campus becomes a visible part of downtown to everyone who travels on Chattanooga’s major streets. At the same time, employees of BCBST gain open sightlines deep into the city they inhabit,” Duda explains. The views from both sides will be open and light-filled. The building facades are primarily glass, allowing employees open vistas from the high-ceilinged office floors. Detailed with brick that echoes the facades of the city’s handsome older office buildings, the BCBST complex is intended to have a public face that is transparent, modern, and harmonious with its setting.

Enhancing connectivity and the spirit of wellness within the corporate complex will be open-plan offices with carefully placed “encounter spaces,” areas where employees can spontaneously meet and communicate. A spine of covered walkways and a sky bridge will connect the office buildings to each other and a central meeting and dining facility. The obvious security needs of BCBST will be offset by ease of access to private garden spaces, outdoor cafes and other employee services. Amenities that encourage wellness and staff development will include an on-site institute for health research and education.

Duda/Paine Architects, an award-winning international design firm, was chosen from among 30 national architectural firms to design the headquarters. Founded in 1997 by Turan Duda and Jeffrey Paine, the firm has earned a reputation for master planning and designing spaces that unite the city context, the site, and the client’s goals into a greater vision. Duda/Paine Architects is based in Durham, NC. For more information, contact Jason Garnett at (919) 688-5133
or go to www.dudapaine.com.

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