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Department of Architecture invited to participate in major design competition University News
For release: September 2, 2009

For press information, contact Simone Notter Wilson (901) 678-4164

The Department of Architecture has been invited to participate in a design competition sponsored by the Volkswagen AG, RiverCity Company, and the Chattanooga Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The competition was kicked off with an event on August 28, 2009, announcing the expansion of the $1 billion Volkswagen plant under construction in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In addition to the University of Memphis, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Auburn University, Georgia Tech, and the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga were also invited to participate in the competition.

Focus of the competition is a pedestrian bridge that will be a signature feature, serving as the main gateway to the plant. The bridge should encompass the core values of Volkswagen including its commitment to design excellence. 

“At Volkswagen, we understand that our vehicles are more than a means of getting from point A to point B,” says Frank Fischer, CEO and chairman of the Chattanooga plant. “They are designed to evoke emotion and awaken the senses of the driver. We want the same to be true of the bridge.”
The bridge will span a distance of 500 feet over green space and Poe Branch with a 50-foot elevation change to link the training center and production plant. 

“Not only does the bridge physically connect employees and visitors to the plant, it symbolically connects Volkswagen with community,” Fischer notes. “That is what makes this student competition so appropriate.”Jan Spies, an architect with Volkswagen who oversees its plant construction worldwide, said the bridge “has to be more than beautiful, it has to be practical, technically, materially, constructively and culturally sustainable.” 

A jury of design and engineering professionals will select the winning design in January 2010.


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