UNC Asheville celebrates Pisgah House opening
Faculty, staff and student representatives were invited to take a first look at Pisgah House
UNC Asheville celebrated the opening of Pisgah House this month by inviting faculty, staff and student representatives to see the new multipurpose facility that also will serve as a residence for the current and future chancellors.
Pisgah House, a four-year project planned and funded through the efforts of the UNC Asheville Foundation, provides an attractive and comfortable venue for meetings, dinners, programs and other events hosted by the chancellor on behalf of the university.
Each campus in the UNC system is required to provide housing for its chancellor. In planning for Pisgah House, UNC Asheville expanded the vision to create a multi-use facility that would serve as the “front porch” of the university.
Pisgah House was designed in the Blue Ridge style of architecture, with deep porches, a steeply pitched roof, and stucco and wood siding. The new facility is energy efficient, and was built using sustainable construction practices, materials and equipment.
The two-story building is about 6,333 square feet. The first-floor public space occupies two-thirds of the square footage. The second-floor chancellor’s residential space occupies one-third of the total square footage, about 2,000 square feet.
Open House guests study the fireplace stonework
No state funds were used in construction or outfitting of the building and grounds other than the $600,000 in net proceeds from the sale of the former chancellor’s residence on Macon Avenue. Construction costs were $2.5 million. Other associated costs, including furnishings and landscaping, brought the total project cost to $2.9 million.
The UNC Asheville Foundation received gifts from more than 150 donors who specifically requested that their gifts go toward construction, furnishing and landscaping of Pisgah House. One of the gifts was from the estate of Allene Highsmith, the wife of UNC Asheville’s first chancellor, which was used to establish an endowment to help pay for hosting of events by current and future chancellors.
Pisgah House is located directly across from the main campus on W.T. Weaver Boulevard. The location was selected because of its close proximity to the campus core, making it a walkable distance. It was not placed in the heart of campus, which is reserved for academic buildings and residence halls. Pisgah House, its outdoor gathering spaces, gardens and access road occupy about two acres of the 50-acre site that is owned by the university. Walking trails throughout the wooded site have been preserved.
In addition to an architectural style that reflects the university’s Western North Carolina location, Pisgah House has been envisioned to be a showcase for the arts and studio crafts that are so much a part of Asheville’s culture and history.
Paintings, pottery, fiber arts, fine woodworking and cabinetry by local craftspeople and artists, some of whom are UNC Asheville alumni and faculty, are found throughout the public spaces of the house. Among the artists and craftspeople are: Michael Sherrill, John and Suzanne Gernandt, Brent Skidmore, Luke Allsbrook, Tucker Cooke, Steve Tengelsen, Max Woody, Josh Copus, Nick Joerling, Billie Ruth Sudduth, Amanda Swimmer, and Edwina and Cynthia Bringle.
The library provides special visibility for books by UNC Asheville alumni and faculty.
Many of the finishing features of the house came from the site. Walnut for the entry staircase came from a large tree on site, and the fireplace in the great room features stone from an old dairy barn foundation original to the site. Architect and builder for Pisgah House was Ken Gaylord/Black Hawk Construction, Hendersonville. Interior designer was Dianne Joyce, Tryon.
A Green Building
Pisgah House features many elements that reflect environmentally thoughtful design. Emphasis was placed on selecting a site and orientation that conserved water resources, allowed bio-retention basins and native plant landscaping. A rainwater cistern holds water for surrounding gardens and landscaping.
Sustainable construction practices and materials were used throughout the project.
The facility was built with Aerated Autoclaved Concrete (AAC), which provides excellent thermal and acoustic insulation, and is fire and mold resistant. AAC originated in Sweden more than 70 years ago. It is manufactured from abundant raw materials, making it resource efficient.
The building is heated and cooled by geothermal technology significantly reducing energy costs. The closed-loop system circulates liquid through a series of pipes bored 300 feet into the ground. In winter, heat pumps extract warmth from the liquid to warm the air. In summer, heat is extracted from the air and carried underground.
In an effort to reduce paved areas around the building, Pisgah House shares parking space with the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station, under mutual agreement. The use of campus shuttles to the building also significantly reduced the need for paved parking areas.
The use of local makers for construction of the building and its furnishings reduced fossil fuel use and helps sustain the local economy. Area makers provided interior doors and hardware, light fixtures, fencing, polished concrete floors, cabinetry, fireplaces and many other features.
Landscaping stone was harvested from an old dairy barn foundation on the property, and hardwood trees removed during site preparation were used as finishing elements in the building, including walnut for the foyer stairway.
Invasive species have been removed from the garden areas and native plants are used throughout.