In the summer of 2010, former Union President David S. Dockery proposed the construction of a new library building. This fall, what started as an idea became a reality.
John 1:1 was a focal passage of scripture throughout the dedication of The Logos library Friday.
“I love Union,” President Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver said as he began his address to a crowd of nearly 1,000 people. “As Winston Churchill said, ‘We shape our buildings, thereafter, they shape us,’ and [this building], even in the patterns of [its] bricks, can shape us more into who God has us to be.”
Intentionality was woven into every step of the planning process, from the name to the brick design. The donors requested that the building not be named after them, so Oliver suggested the name “The Logos” because he said he felt that represented the contemplation and wisdom seeking the building was intended for. Every seventh layer of bricks is different in a subtle reference the symbolism of the number seven throughout the scriptures.
Anna Beth Morgan, associate vice president for academic resources and director of the library, said bringing all the ideas together into a cohesive design took patience and planning over a span of several years. The time from the first floor plan ideas to seeing the steel frame finally put up was about 5 years.
Bill Latimer, a primary donor, expressed his appreciation at Friday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“The building of The Logos has been made possible by those who have used their blessings to bless others,” Latimer said.
When Ken Finley, project supervisor of H&M Company, began working on the project June 30, 2014, there were between 10 to 20 workers. In early 2015, as the building was being closed in by the walls, there were about 100 on-site workers.
“At that stage of the project, we were averaging 80 to 90 employees each day,” Finley said. “Those contractors were working six days a week, 10 hours a day.”
Working on the library, specifically the dome, presents its own unique challenges for architecture sheet metal specialist Scott Frey.
If the workers pay attention to what they’re doing while they stay in their appropriate spot, the risk of injury is significantly lowered, he said.
“It gets frustrating because you are confined to one spot, and you have six or seven people up there with their ropes, and you try not to get tangled up with everybody,” Frey said. “Safety is the most important thing, and you have to ensure people are taking the appropriate steps for maximum safety.”
Frey, who has been specializing in architecture sheet metal for the last 23 years, has never worked on a dome with diamond-shaped panels before. He said this concept is unique for Tennessee architecture.
Several layers make up the dome: concrete, two layers of wrapped plywood, two layers of an ice and water shield and a four series turn coated stainless steel panel.
“It’s a lot like repelling straight up and down,” said Frey. “It’s rough; you have to have strength. When you look around and see how flat and full of trees the area is, it looks like a lot could be built. There’s solace up there—it’s just you and the hawks.”
Working on something that will last is rewarding for Frey. He said he looks forward to future generations appreciating his work.
“It’d be cool to take my grand-kids out here in 40 years and say ‘I had a part in that,’” he said. “A lot of people can’t say that. Hard work is its own reward, and I’m very proud of it.”