Adaptive Reuse

University of Kentucky Receives $5.2M Gift for College of Design

The University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., recently received a $5.2-million gift from Gray Inc. for the construction of a new home for the College of Design. The project entails the renovation of the currently vacant Reynolds Building, which at one time was a tobacco warehouse. Once complete, the space will unite the college’s five programs under one roof for the first time, according to a news release.

Gray Inc. includes companies in engineering, design, construction, automation, manufacturing and real estate, according to a news release. The new facility will be called the Gray Design Building and serve as a landmark entry into both the campus and the city of Lexington itself. Groundbreaking is scheduled to begin later this year.

The College of Design will also collaborate with the College of Engineering, the Gatton School of Business and Economics and faculty leadership to create a design-build curriculum.

“This gift will give us the opportunity to transform a historic but terribly stressed building into the Gray Design Building — home of UK’s College of Design,” said Eli Capilouto, University of Kentucky President. “It sits at a critical nexus between campus and community. Appropriate for a College of Design, the facility will be a stunning entry point to UK. It is exactly the kind of project Secretary (and former Mayor Jim) Gray and I have discussed often over the years — a marriage of form and function that will enhance what we do academically, in service to our state and as a symbol of the inextricable links between Lexington and the university.”

The project’s Architect of Record was K Norman Berry Associate Architects, which has a long history with the College of Design. Partner Emeritus Norman Berry graduated with the college’s inaugural class in 1965, and the firm has hired more than 40 of the program’s graduates since then. The university also partnered with architecture firm Studio Gang for what has been called one of the most significant instances of “adaptive reuse” in university history.

“At a time when reinventing existing buildings is essential to conserve resources and decarbonize, this generous gift allows us to realize the transformation of the disused Reynolds building into a vibrant hub for cross-disciplinary design education,” said Jeanne Gang, a founding partner of Studio Gang. “It is particularly meaningful that this gift comes from the Gray family, as they have been passionate champions of the value that great design can bring for both the people and the city of Lexington.”

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].