With a sense of community and caring at the forefront for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee (BCBST), it was not surprising that the company wanted to create a warm, inviting aesthetic throughout its headquarters campus in Chattanooga, TN. The campus sits on Cameron Hill, and with its sweeping views of the city and its surrounding mountainous terrain seen from every direction, inspiration to achieve these aesthetic goals was found in the natural elements which make up this spectacular landscape. Nowhere is the result of this more evident than in the reception building where a combination of natural materials such as river rocks, various wood species and granite are prominent features of the design palette. 

  “BCBST’s aesthetic goals were established in our pre-design work through a series of visioning and goal-setting sessions,” explained Lynda Cobbs Brookshire, ASID of tvsdesign in Atlanta, GA, the interior design firm for the project. “In these sessions, not only did we focus on the overarching design goals that would create cohesiveness across the five buildings, but we also honed in on specifics that would create uniqueness within the aesthetic of each building’s spaces -- noticeable to visitors and employees alike as they pass through them.  

“Of the goals set from the visioning, the goal to create warm, inviting spaces is the one that most heavily influenced the final aesthetic throughout the campus,” Brookshire went on to say. “They wanted open and airy spaces filled with natural light. They also desired the incorporation of natural materials to create warmth.”


Bringing the outdoors inside

The interior designer continued to explain that there was a desire to have a fluid transition from the outdoors to the interior spaces. “With the lobby at the reception building and the surrounding circulation areas being surrounded by full-height glass, we wanted to bring the outdoors in,” she said. “There is a feeling of nature as you enter. We brought together natural materials to create an interesting aesthetic that holistically achieved BCBST’s vision. The use of Tamo Ash and Brazilian Koa wood veneers at the reception desk, lobby feature wall and graphic displays viewed in the adjacent circulation spaces heavily influenced the overall direction of the palette.”

To complement the tones and textures found in these woods, slabs of African Fantasy granite -- supplied by G & L Marble of Winston, GA -- were chosen for the feature wall and reception desk. The material was received in Nashville, TN, by Seven Hills Granite who coordinated the final fabrication and installation provided by Design Stone, also of Nashville.

“The granite has warm tones of brown and an interesting contrast of other natural tones,” explained Brookshire. “It also has large-scale movement running through it, which was essential given the large plains where it was to be installed.”

The African Fantasy granite was employed for a large portion of the reception building’s feature wall, which holds the BCBST logo as well as the primary material used on the face of the four person reception desk. “In selecting stone slabs, we worked very closely with the Construction Manager (CM) throughout the process,” said Brookshire. “We provided our sample piece of the African Fantasy for the CM to give G & L as a reference in locating slabs with the most similar look. We reviewed photographs of various slabs, and when we found a series with the right look, they were purchased and shipped to G & L’s warehouse in Atlanta where we reviewed them to ensure they were consistent with the images and were quality material. From there, they were shipped to Seven Hills Granite in Nashville where they took responsibility for coordinating the final part of the process with Design Stone.”


Detailing the slabs

In total, eight slabs were shipped from Africa. “We reviewed the slabs in detail, and with masking tape we identified how each slab would be cut and fit together so we could best achieve the appearance that the stone installed on the feature wall came from one slab instead of many different ones,” explained the interior designer. “We took the same approach in selecting the slabs for the reception desk. Identifying how the slabs could be cut at the needed sizes while maintaining a consistent match of the grain’s patterning at both the ends and sides was critical to achieving the look we wanted.” After tvsdesign completed this process, they narrowed it down to the three best slabs to cover the 11-foot-tall feature wall. 

Once the selection process was completed, the slabs of African Fantasy granite were cut down based on the markings made by the design team. According to Brookshire, it was a process to perfect the stone pieces to align with the architectural components meeting up with them on the feature wall. “After the stone was cut and fabricated, we went to the site to review it in place as a mock-up before it was fully installed,” she said. “The alignment with portions to the adjacent architecture was off, so it was all dismantled and taken back to Nashville for proper adjustments.  They came back a second time to install the stone and it worked out perfectly.  

“The vertical face of the reception desk had to be segmented to accommodate the curve of the desk,” Brookshire went on to say. “The fabricator calculated an approach that provided the smallest number of segments with the tightest joints possible. These segments on the desk’s facade also needed to be tangent to the curve of the transaction top. tvsdesign detailed the edge of the transaction top to provide an overlap to the segmented face of the desk to accommodate any tolerance the fabricator needed while fitting it to the frame and substrate constructed by the millwork shop.”


      BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee


Cameron Hill Campus

Chattanooga, TN

 Interior Architect/Designer: tvsdesign, Atlanta, GA

Construction Manager: Skanska EMJ Russell, A Joint Venture

Stone Supplier: G&L Marble, Winston, GA

Stone Distributor: Seven Hills Granite, Nashville, TN

Stone Fabricator/Installer: Design Stone, Nashville, TN

Reception Desk Millwork Shop: On-Site Woodwork Corporation, Austell, GA