The Lay Low is an adaptive reuse of a 40 x 40 CMU building that formally housed a beauty shop and the Lay Low Lounge, a men’s gambling club. It is located in the revitalized community of Chattanooga’s Southside. The architects, who live across the street, bought the property with the intent to design an age-in-place, accessible residence for their parents. The building is structured with roof trusses, which allowed for the removal of all interior walls and a total reconfiguring of the space. The plan includes one large living, dining, and cooking space, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and a large covered porch. Until their parents are ready to settle down, the Lay Low currently serves as a unique bed and breakfast. On open weekends, it is party central for the vibrant Southside neighborhood.

The Tennessee Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Tennessee) announced the 2015 Design Awards at a gala celebration during AIA Tennessee’s state convention in Knoxville during the last week of July. To salute excellence in architecture, AIA Tennessee conducts an annual Design Awards Program. This program honors built works of distinction designed by AIA Tennessee members. The program also brings outstanding examples of architecture to public attention.

The project was selected by a jury chaired by Karen Fairbanks, AIA, of Marble Fairbanks, and included Karla Rothstein, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University; Joeb Moore, Joeb Moore & Partners, LLC in Greenwich, CT, and Adjunct Professor of Architecture at the Barnard/Columbia Architecture Department; and James Slade, AIA, LEED-AP, Slade Architecture in NYC.

This excellent example of smart temporal programming provides a longer term vision of accessible housing with a shot-term use. The architects acted as activists in their neighborhood, contributing and helping to define a program of revitalization and renewal though their work.

Jury Comments:
• We were so impressed by the vision that the architects, as the clients, brought to this project.
• Site plan: the site is an area under revitalization, seems mostly residential, with plenty of open lots to infill
• Existing buildings: the architects wanted to reuse this existing building
• Demolition: they adapted the existing structure, just removing interior partitions and opening up the front – which is key to the strength of the project
• Plan: we thought this was an excellent example of smart, temporal programming. A longer term vision for accessible housing with a short term use.
• Porch: Accessible front porch provides a semi-public space to the street view
• Kitchen: Economy and efficiency of the planning is super
• Layers: layered from public to private across the section
• Final: We saw the architects as activists in their neighborhood, contributing and helping to define a program of revitalization and renewal through their work

AIA ECELLENCE - Laylow-2015