A $5.2 million donation grants UK's College of Design a new building


Rendering of the outdoor space at the Gray Design Building. Image obtained via UKNow.

After a 50-year wait, the University of Kentucky’s College of Design will be getting a new building: the Gray Design Building.


The Gray Design Building, previously an old tobacco warehouse called the Reynolds Building, will be a modern renovation for the university. It is located between South Broadway Street and UK’s campus.


The leading designers of the new building are Studio Gang and K. Norman Berry Associates Architects along with Carman Landscape Architecture.


The renovations are planned to be completed by the end of 2023 according to the College of Design’s website.


“The new Reynolds building, I’m expecting it to be more of an architectural building rather than the old, 1920s buildings we’re in right now,” architecture student Matt VanWinkle said. “I feel like I am in school in the 1920s, so I am hoping this new building will be more up-to-date and adequately sustain architecture.”

Rendering of the interior space of the Gray Design Building. Image obtained via UKNow.

The building will have an open floor plan which will consist of a double-height lecture hall, multiple fabrication labs and a café which will promote socialization among students of different programs, faculty and visitors according to the K. Norman Berry Associates Architects website. The outside of the building will have a fabrication dock along with a structural canopy and new trees.


“To be able to go to the studio every day and walk by and see what interiors are working on and what product design is working on, that’s going to be a lot of fun and I think it’s going to breed a lot of new creativity,” design student Joey Madaj said. “I have been inside the Reynolds building before and I think it's such a cool structure. There is so much history to it so I am glad that they are keeping that historical touch to it.”


It will serve as the main spot for the College of Design’s five programs, including architecture, urban design and product design, interiors, landscape architecture and studio art. In partnership with UK’s College of Engineering, the new building will also serve biomedical engineering students.


“I think it is going to be amazing because we will have all of our research in one building, so it will be nice and convenient; as opposed to classes being split up between multiple buildings,” architecture student Ryan Valsted said.


Rendering of the interior space of the Gray Design Building. Image obtained via UKNow.

The renovation is made possible by a donation of $5.2 million from Gray Inc., which is a company specializing in design, construction, engineering, and manufacturing solutions. The company has made its name in Lexington and the Commonwealth, and is an industry leader in design-build. According to the College of Design’s website, over 75 donors have contributed to the development as well.


“I like the idea of an open studio space because I like to talk. I like seeing what other people are doing and I think that really forces students to engage in studio culture that they otherwise are not exposed to in normal classrooms right now,” UK architecture student Emma Cockerham said. “It all being concentrated into one building is going to be very convenient.”