Alex Haley Interpretive Center / Askew Nixon Ferguson

© Jeffrey Jacobs Photography

Architects: Askew Nixon Ferguson
Location: Henning, Tennessee, USA
Principal in Charge: William Ferguson
Project Designer: Louis R Pounders
Project Team: Bob Land, Brian Martinelli, Liz Engel, Tava Frazier
Project Year: 2010
Project Area: 604 sqm
Photographs: Jeffrey Jacobs Photography

Civil Engineer: Allen & Hoshall
Structural Engineer: Tahliani & Associates
Mechanical Engineer: Thompson Engineers
Electrical Engineer: Engineering Design Consultants
Exhibit Consultant: Natural Concepts

The Alex Haley Interpretive Center, designed to enhance the educational mission of this State Historic Site, offers a venue where the public can experience first-hand the life and career of this distinguished Tennessee author.

© Jeffrey Jacobs Photography

The design concept for the Interpretive Center building is simple yet quite compelling: an angled administrative wing and folded roof define a central Lobby that focuses, like a telescope, directly on the Haley House approximately 200 feet away; the Interpretive Center relates to the historic residence but avoids overwhelming it or intruding into its pristine setting.

© Jeffrey Jacobs Photography

The palette of materials (concrete block, siding, metal roof, and steel structure) references the vernacular architecture of this rural area, while insuring durability and low maintenance. Sustainable strategies include roof overhangs to shade glass walls, mechanical and electrical controls to minimize energy consumption, and a white TPO roof on the exhibit block to reduce heat load while reflecting daylight through the south-facing clerestory, illuminating the Lobby.

Floor Plan

Entry to the Interpretive Center; the tall glass Lobby focuses directly on the residence beyond. Staff can observe the parking area thru their office porthole window (Haley served for twenty years in the U. S. Coast Guard and in 1999, a cutter was named for him).

© Jeffrey Jacobs Photography

Sited to preserve existing trees and maintain natural drainage patterns, the Interpretive Center is shielded from the residence by a row of trees and connected to it by an elevated boardwalk; bus parking was separated from the auto entry. The folded metal roof, with its rural architectural imagery, covers the Lobby and Administrative spaces; entry is on the right, boardwalk to the residence on the left.

Site Plan

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Alex Haley Interpretive Center / Askew Nixon Ferguson" 24 May 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 26 May 2015. <>
  • shid

    very good concept .