ETSU Fossil Museum


All photographs 2008 Denise Retallack

Looking at the rolling hills of Northeast Tennes- see today, it is hard to imagine that the area once was populated exotic animals such as rhi- noceros, alligators and saber-toothed tigers. But when bones were discovered during construction of a highway, it was soon found that Miocene Epoch animals populated the area in abundance. The 5 acre deposit of fossils is over 130 feet thick. It is the premier source of Micocene Epoch fos- sils on the east coast.

The East Tennessee State University Fossil Site Visitor Center was designed and constructed to exhibit the site’s unique fossil record. Other im- portant functions include providing an educational facility for students, visitors and the general pub- lic, and serving as a working research laboratory for the fossil deposit.

The first floor of the building is dedicated to ex- hibit and educational space. One exhibit hall features both permanent and temporary displays of the site’s excavations. A second exhibit hall is used for touring exhibitions and special museum functions. Meeting, class and media rooms pro- vide space for the educational functions of the building.

The second floor is occupied by offices and re- search space. A bridge connects the second floor to the excavation site, which is located immedi- ately behind the building.

The building structure utilizes a steel frame with brick and glass cladding allowing the soaring two story entry. Several color of brick are used for visual interest.

The H.S. Williams Company served as the gen- eral contractor for the project.

Gray, Tennessee
Museum and Research Facility
34,163 square feet

A Joint Venture of Bullock Smith Partners Knoxville, Tennessee and Vaughan and Melton, Inc. Greeneville, Tennessee