I-55 Welcome Center

The design strategy for this 1960s Tennessee replacement welcome center on I-55 was guided by a desire to bring awareness to an architecturally under-explored building type and by simple, sustainable building principles and passive energy saving techniques—selected to reduce taxpayer costs over the lifespan of the facility. The building is poised to become the State’s first net-zero energy building, upon installation of the solar arrays. With the arrays installed, the building will generate more energy than it uses over the course of a year. Sustainable design features include a high-performing building envelope, efficient building systems, and passive techniques include roof overhangs and sun shades. The site was analyzed to determine the optimal building orientation.

The primary structure and secondary storage buildings are both long and thin structures. This proportion provides more exposure for PV panels, easier access for natural light in every space, allows adequate space for separate car and truck parking areas, and minimizes the number of trees removed for the project. The project includes distinct parking areas for both larger tractor-trailer rigs and smaller vehicles.

The roof pitch of the buildings is set by the optimal angle to generate PV power in Memphis, TN. The materials used (inside and out) make the building less expensive to maintain throughout the building’s lifespan. Low flow faucets and toilets are used throughout, designed to save an estimated 36,000 gallons of water a year.

The highway-scaled sculpture that has been on the site since 1987 will remain and has been incorporated as a part of the center with ongoing fundraising to restore it.

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