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Webb hopes to enhance campus with several projects

Students returning for classes at Webb School of Knoxville Wednesday, Aug. 15, may have noticed something new on campus, as well as construction projects still in process.

Scott Hutchinson, who oversees all three divisions of Webb as president, said the school is currently completing Phase I of a two– phase project aimed at enhancing its campus.

“There’re four things going on here [in Phase I]. There’re two big buildings, one is a science center for grades nine through 12; there are four sciences that we offer: environmental science, chemistry, physics and biology. This will be the building that houses those. Second, there’s an international center for the study of world cultures and world languages, which is getting ready to be built,” he said. “There’s a big project in the middle of the campus, which is creating a big grass commons area. At the north end [there will be] an outdoor theater and a fountain area, and at the south end [there will be] a big clock tower and bell tower.”

He added, “The goal of Webb is not to expand, so we’re not adding more kids. ... So we’ll still be plus or minus 1,050 kids here.”

Phase I should be completed by the end of next summer, Hutchinson said.

“The science building will be finished at the end of this September. Outdoor theatre will be finished when school opens. The science building will be moved into October 1, and then the international center will be built in the fall and winter and the first part of the spring. That will be finished maybe April of 2008. The clock tower and the southern part of the commons will be finished next summer, so by next summer Phase I will be finished,” he said.

Hutchinson said he thinks the outdoor theatre will be an asset to the school’s campus.

“Webb is a collection of eclectic buildings built over 50 years, but it doesn’t have outdoor venues for performances. It doesn’t have much internal green spaces; it doesn’t have many gardens, so we’re going to build some quiet places for reflection on the campus,” he said. “The outdoor theatre … will be for choral presentations; it could conceivably be for a large crowd activity like a graduation. It probably will be used for more musical than theatrical things, but it could have readings, guest speakers. We don’t have any other formal outdoor area where groups can gather, and it could hold any single division easily.”

As far as square footage, “the science building is about 34,000 square feet, and the international center is about 18,000 square feet,” he said.

“We’re trying to raise the visibility of multi-culturalism and international experience. [The international center] is actually an emergent building, meaning you’ll actually have to speak the language to enter the building,” he said. “We were trying to create an environment here that would be more conducive to learning and practicing a foreign language and give a bit more of an international flavor to the campus. It’s actually a really cool building.”

The clock tower, Hutchinson said, serves two purposes.

“One of the things that we’ve gotten feedback on over the years is that it’s a challenging campus to find a destination is you are a prospective parent or a visitor. All the new buildings will be one-story except the new science building, so we were trying to add a vertical element that would be a reference point for folks that came on the campus so they could find some place to go, the clock tower. Also it architecturally balances with big two story building on the north end of the commons, so it gives some symmetry and balance to the architecture of the campus. It actually has a clock on all four faces of it. It will play 360 songs or something, so it will allow us to have music on campus if we want,” he said.

Phase II will be “some athletic facilities and some multi-purpose buildings, and reorganizing the big central building and some of the ancillary things, like the business office and admissions. We’ll be relocating those on campus and making a student center in the middle of what is now the central building,” Hutchinson said.


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