From the Knoxville News Sentinel (registration required):

The $10,000 canvas roof installed over the Market Square performance stage could cost Knoxville taxpayers $60,000 to replace after less than three years' wear and tear.

The roof originally was budgeted as a $70,000-$80,000 line-item expense when the city began an extensive renovation of the downtown square in 2003. Added work delayed completion deadlines and strained the project's budget.

"Somewhere during that process, we had a roof that got value-engineered," said Bob Whetsel, the city's director of public service.


The Chattanooga-based Kinsey firm, now Kinsey, Probasco, Hays & Associates, has agreed to reimburse the city for the $10,000 cost of the failed roof.

The remaining cost will be funded through the city's $250,000-a-year roof replacement program, Whetsel said.

KPH is the same firm also set to purchase and privately redevelop the city-owned Candy Factory and seven Victorian houses on World's Fair Park.

According to the article, the previous Ashe administration's "Development Department" (since dissolved) approved the cheaper roof as a tradeoff to keep project costs under control.

City Council approved the repairs last night, noting that in the future maybe they ought not to "value-engineer on things like roofs."

At least the City is doing something to fix it, unlike the landmark Worlds Fair Amphitheater that has been sitting there deteriorating for 20 years.

Bean's picture

Ah, yes Concert Venue Square


That canopy thingie made a fabulous mosquito incubator -- water pooled up and caused it to sag lower with every rain, thus providing delightful pools of stagnant ooze where all manner of creepy hatchlings could live undisturbed. I kept waiting for the time when the whole thing would crack under the weight of the water, drenching whatever group was onstage underneath. The whole stage area is pretty much an architectural abortion, with those gawf-awful non-functional "columns" and a "roof" too high to provide any meaningful shelter.

Our tax dollars at work.

michael kaplan's picture

bean wrote: "The whole stage

bean wrote: "The whole stage area is pretty much an architectural abortion, with those gawf-awful non-functional "columns" and a "roof" too high to provide any meaningful shelter."

wonder why it takes a non-architect to make a meaningful comment on architecture in this town. maybe stroud watson, consultant on this project, could respond .. or, rather, spin the issue, as he usually does. he was the one arguing to rip out the trees and line up the new ones in a row, creating a 'grand boulevard' out of a rather ordinary - but nicely scaled - outdoor 'room.'

Rachel's picture

Ok, I have no problem with

Ok, I have no problem with the complaint about the trees. But it's not fair to blame Stroud Watson for the bad roof. It's not what was envisioned, nor designed. It's what Victor's Dept. of Development "value engineered" later to "save" $$$. Blame this one on Hizzoner and Leslie Henderson.

Bbeanster's picture

Not fair to blame the architect? Pshaw!

If you've ever been on the square on market day when it's sunny, or when it's rainy, you surely noticed that vendors who are up on the stage have to bring their own canopies because this "roof" thingie is simply too high to keep the weather -- whether it's sun or rain -- off them. It's very poorly designed, and that's a whole separate issue from the shoddy material used in the roof. I'm quite sure that it cracked (or ripped) where the fabric sagged under the weight of the stagnant water that pooled up there. And seriously, I cannot imagine that the pools weren't full of squirmy mosquito wigglers. Yuck.

And, btw, what ARE those stupid-looking columns supposed to represent? It's a motif that is repeated up on the Gay Street end of the Crutch sidewalk, er, Park extention.

rikki's picture

That rooftop is not very

That rooftop is not very good mosquito habitat, too much sun. I would guess puddles that formed in the sags would dry up pretty quickly when the sun hit them. I think the problem was that the fabric was not intended to be exposed to all that sunlight. That kind of baking and cooling ages materials rapidly.

Bbeanster's picture

I tracked those pools

very closely, and they did not dry up for weeks at a time. Probably because it rains a lot in early summer. The phenomenon occasioned much talk among those camped out underneath because the fabric appeared to be strained to the breaking (tearing) point.

rikki's picture

shades of irony

It's pretty ironic that a structure that provides so little shade for those underneath it was providing enough to keep standing water on top of it. I still think it's not very good mosquito habitat. Were there any green stains from algae or other signs of life?

Bbeanster's picture

Were there any green stains?

Hell, how would I know? Since I'm neither Spider Woman nor the Jolly Green Giantess, I viewed it only from way down below.

Michael's picture

re: The Columns

Okay.  Here goes:

I can only relate what I recall from the design charettes.  They're the same as on Gay because they were supposed to serve as visual cues to pedestrians that Krutch Park flows into the Square and vice versa.  There were actually supposed to be two more on the Union end of the Square as well, thus creating some kind of continuity.  I'm not saying it was a great idea.  But there's the reasoning.  Of course, at that time, the plans didn't include a covering at all for the stage area. 

My only gripe about the replacement is that I don't think spending $60K on polycarbonate panels with a 10-year life makes much sense.  I could just as easily be a zinc-coated metal roof with a much longer life for a fraction of the cost.  It's not like the transparency is going to add anything to the design.  As you point out, it's fairly worthless as a shelter.

But I can't say how pleased I am that Kinsey, et al, had to cough up at least $10K of the money they wasted. 


Rachel's picture

Ok, I went back and reread

Ok, I went back and reread all the comments, and I was going in the wrong direction. Nobody was blaming Stroud Watson for the choice of substitute shoddy roof material. They were blaming him for the design. That's fair.

And BTW, I think it's ugly and non-functional, too.

michael kaplan's picture

"It could just as easily be

"It could just as easily be a zinc-coated metal roof with a much longer life for a fraction of the cost.

Wonder what happened to the 'zinc-coated metal roof' that was on the previous pavilion. Those panels could have easily been recycled and used in the new project.

But yes, had the consultant architect been more concerned with functionality and less with 'visual clues,' we might have had a workable AND beautiful band shell.

Michael's picture

Band Shell?

Speaking for myself, I'm pleased that there's no "band shell" or otherwise dedicated performance space.  The Square is flexible.  And I don't feel it should have been built as some sort of urban concert venue.

It can be a concert venue, when the occasion calls for it. But when you consider how many days a year that's the case, it's not reasonable to have a dedicated stage space for such things.  The vast majority of the time a band shell would just be taking up room and looking vacant.  I think those who advocate for such are likely only to be found on the Square for Sundown or other shows, and are a bit selfish about their use of the space without considering the wide array of events hosts, including its greater mixed role as a restaurant, retail  and residential district.

I think it's an excellent, flexible venue for many things.  One day it can host thousands for a performance, another it serves as a farmers' market, another it's an ice skating rink, and on another perhaps it's an arts and crafts fair.  Not every event needs a dedicated performance space.  And I'm pleased that it strikes a balance for multiple uses.

If it were only to be a performance venue, I suppose it could benefit from a lot of changes: Get rid of any trees that obstruct the view, build some dedicated seating, put in a dedicated sound booth, provide some acoustic engineering, etc.  Then it could be a big, empty performance venue most of the time, rather than the lively, flexible space it is. 

I walk through it nearly everyday, and appreciate that it doesn't feel like some sort of vacant amphitheatre. And it can be a very popular concert venue as needed.


cafkia's picture

republican speak

There may well be no more misleading discriptor in the construction trades than "value engineering".   It is  ALWAYS anything but.  It was ahead of it's time though as it was in common usage well before the Healthy Forrests Initiative and the Clean Air Act and No Child Left Behind.  I don't know the origin of the term but it has modern republican written all over it.




It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.
  - William G. McAdoo

R. Neal's picture

Yes, and apropos of nothing

Yes, and apropos of nothing (or maybe not) I first heard the term "human capital" today. Guess I've been out of the MBA-speak loop. I'm still getting over the change from "personnel" to "human resources."

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