Often, great things happen as a result of the most casual of conversations. JJCA’s very first project is a great example of this. When founding partner Ed Johnson happened upon his friend Blair Stephens at Wendy’s one afternoon back in 1991 they had a fairly brief exchange that probably went something like this:
Ed: “Hi Blair – I’m not sure I’ve seen you since we opened the doors of our new firm, Johnson Johnson Crabtree Architects.
Blair: “Oh,– that’s great. I know you’ll do well. In fact, I have something you might want to work on.”
As it turns out, Blair was the chair of the building committee at Webb School, a 250 student boarding and day school located in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. The school had just received a generous gift from William Bond Jr. and the school wanted to use the contribution to provide its students with access to college level resources. They felt a state-of-the-art library would be the first step in upgrading the campus environment to stimulate enrollment.
Ed was, in fact, quite interested in designing the library and it became one of JJCA’s earliest projects. The project provided a great opportunity to hone skills that have become cornerstones in JJCA design, like paying considerable attention to creating warm and inviting spaces that not only achieve their functional purpose but make users of the space feel truly comfortable there. The combination of natural materials, abundant lighting, and a soft and inviting environment have made the library a Webb student favorite as both study and on campus living-room for two decades.
Just ask JJCA’s own Rachael Spangler, Webb School class of 2001, who provides a true student perspective on the library. She says the library was just as popular a gathering place as the student center, in fact she has fond memories of curling up on the couch for a nap in front of the library’s fireplace on cold winter days. Rachael notes that it was apparent to her even back then that the library had been well-designed for monitoring potentially wayward students. Expansive glass wall openings made it much easier for a single librarian to keep an eye on students, at least most of the time. She says she and her friends were able to slip in a few games of little low-stakes Texas Hold’em between hands of Spades. But Rachael’s best memory of the William W. Bond Library? She met her husband there!