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Architect remembered for shaping Knoxville

12:47 AM, Jan 24, 2013   |    comments
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Architect Bruce McCarty's passion for design shaped Knoxville.

From McGhee Tyson to UT Campus to Ijams Nature Center, the Knoxville architect's handprint is all over East Tennessee.

McCarty passed away earlier this month. This week, his family received a public honor from the Knoxville City Council, recognizing his impact on our community.

"It was really touching," said McCarty's son, Doug.

McCarty practiced a modern philosophy that not all critics agreed with, but it's one that gave us some of our most iconic buildings.

"My dad really felt that a building should be designed for the time it's being built and really not try to look like a building that was built in the 1880s or 1920s," said Doug.

While McCarty spent most of his life sketching Knoxville, he grew up in the midwest, attended Princeton, and served in the military.

"He was stationed here [Knoxville] for a week or two and had a blind date with my mother," his son said.

His wife is what kept him in Knoxville for the rest of his life. And if she hadn't, we wouldn't have the City-County building, the downtown library, or UT's Art and Architecture building.

"Most architects love it, some non-architects don't. But it was a pretty strong statement at the time," Doug said. It was a project the two designed together while Doug was still in school.

The father-son bond continued to pay off creatively for the next two decades.

"The beauty of our relationship is that we worked so well together," Doug said.

The pair brought us the 1982 World's Fair where Bruce McCarty was master architect.

"We'd work late into the night; I had a drafting table next to him and we'd work on the design of these buildings," he said.

Bruce built the firm that Doug runs today and never really retired.

"Even up until about two or three years ago he was still coming in and working on the design of certain projects," Doug said.

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