Urban design leader named newest UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair

Phil Enquist

Phil Enquist

KNOXVILLE—Philip Enquist, partner in charge of urban design and planning and leader of the City Design Practice at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, has been named the 16th University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor’s Chair. Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill is one of the world’s leading urban planning, architecture, and engineering firms, a press release said.

Enquist and a select research team will serve as Governor’s Chair for High Performance Energy Practices in Urban Environments and will be affiliated with and administer projects through the UT College of Architecture and Design.

The Governor’s Chair team will be a research partnership among many designers at the firm who specialize in sustainable urbanism and high-performance buildings. Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill’s City Design Practice is the world’s most highly awarded urban planning group.

The contract between ORNL, UT, and the design firm is pending, the press release said.

“This position will surely lead to innovative discoveries and enhance our reputation as a leader in the field of design and urban environments,” said UT Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. “This is yet another step toward our university becoming a Top 25 research institution.”

The Governor’s Chair was selected following a national search, the release said. Only those candidates from firms with a research division and capable of providing a collaborative team as part of their appointment were considered.

“Enquist and his studios have improved the quality and efficiency of city living on five continents,” said Scott Poole, dean of the College of Architecture and Design. “Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill has erected the tallest man-made structures in the world, created advanced building technologies and material systems and been central to the planning of cities across the world.”

Funded by the state of Tennessee and ORNL, the Governor’s Chair program attracts top researchers to broaden and enhance the unique research partnership that exists between the state’s flagship university and the nation’s largest multi-program laboratory, the release said.

Poole noted that by 2015, more than 80 percent of the U.S. population will be living in urban areas. This creates multiple environmental challenges that will be solved by a combination of cultural shifts and technological advances in the fields of regional planning, architecture, engineering, and the building sciences.

“High-performance buildings in dense urban settings will be a key feature of a better, more secure energy feature, and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill is a world leader in this area,” Poole said.

The Governor’s Chair will use ORNL’s Building Technologies Research and Integration Center. The center aims to push new energy-efficient building products to the market.

“The creation of this position is further evidence of the commitment Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee have to lending their nationally recognized expertise to advance sustainability on a local and global scale,” said Martin Keller, ORNL’s associate lab director for energy and environmental sciences.

Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill and its team of designers will promote innovative energy practices for new and existing buildings in urban areas, encourage interdisciplinary collaboration, create the foundation for new UT graduate programs, and develop new models for the contemporary construction industry, the press release said.

It said Enquist is an authority on holistic city building. His global experience includes city revitalization throughout China, the Canary Wharf Master Plan in London, and National Planning Development Strategies for the Kingdom of Bahrain. Enquist leads SOM’s pro bono initiative, begun in 2009, to develop a 100-year design vision for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River region.

In the U.S., his work includes numerous planning strategies for leading universities, the Chicago Central Area Plan, the Millennium Park Master Plan in Chicago, and the District of Columbia Height Master Plan Modeling Analysis.

“The new governor’s chair will be a catalyst for change, bringing new re¬search in emerging clean energy technologies and sustainable practices to traditional urban design practices,” Poole said. “The chair will lead the development of new forms of urban design practice. Its applied research will be a powerful contributor to urban development and economic growth of the state of Tennessee and the region. ”

UT Knoxville currently has 14 of the 16 positions in the statewide program.

To learn more about the Governor’s Chair program, visit http://www.utk.edu/govchairs.

To learn more about ORNL, visit http://ornl.gov.

To learn more about the UT College of Architecture and Design and follow the progress of the research, visit http://archdesign.utk.edu.

To learn more about Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, visit http://www.som.com.

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