First Friday for August featured the first glimpse most of us have gotten to the new KAT center. While the official opening won’t come until later this month and the ribbon cutting ceremony isn’t until next week, they welcomed guests with an art exhibit, a great display of the history of the site throughout the last two centuries and a tour by one of the architects involved in the project. The most impressive thing I heard was the lengths to which the center has gone to be environmentally friendly.
Virgil met us at the door. Virgil is a twenty-seven year veteran bus driver and has recently moved to driving the handicap equipped bus, which he really enjoys. He was a great greeter and deserves a raise for improving KAT’s image with a single night of expert doormanship.
The art exhibit was more modest than I might have hopped, but it was a nice sidebar. Nell Campbell, the lead architect in the project, took a small, interested, group on a tour and emphasized the fact that the building is in line to receive the highest national certification for an energy efficient and environmentally friendly building. Ninety percent of the interior gets light from outside and much of it does not require internal lighting. The components used in the construction were chosen with environmental issues in mind. Solar panels will be installed next week to provide some of the power needed. Floors and walls were designed to not need replacement or repainting or cleaning with chemicals.
Gardens grow on the roof and along one side of the building and the building top was made a light color to reflect heat.
The actual operations of the center – the bays for buses – will happen on top of the office portion of the building and over the Jame’s White Parkway.
For selfish reasons, I asked if this would mean less bus traffic on Locust Street and I was told it would. That alone is worth a few million dollars to me! Seriously, it is very nice and they are justifiably proud. Now if we could just get more Knoxvillians to realize they do not have to take their personal automobiles everywhere for every reason – and how about that light rail possibility with those under utilized tracks?