Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Franklin Architects approached Matt Whitaker within a few months of opening the firm in Chattanooga to bring his expertise in stormwater management and habitat restoration to the new TNACI headquarters planned on the bank of the Tennessee River. The resulting collaboration provides a regional precedent for sustainable design to clients, developers, designers, engineers, and regulatory authorities with its beautiful and functional design.

From the first meeting, Matt challenged the team to eliminate all stormwater grey infrastructure and replace it with green. As the design advanced, the design narrative as a tool for education and inspiration took on greater and greater importance. Ultimately this yielded a native plant palette entirely derived from two regional vascular flora surveys, a diverse waste and stormwater treatment approach which provides for education as much as water quality, a material palette inspired by local geology, and outdoor spaces that provide quiet reflection or classroom use. Measures for monitoring and evaluating building and site performance are also incorporated into the project. Every drop of water that falls on the site is used to offset building/irrigation water requirements or passes through an extensive treatment train of green infrastructure BMPs to ensure maximum infiltration and treatment.