Pannell Construction

Respecting What Came Before

Alongside trusted partners, Knoxville’s Pannell Construction brings the present to the sites of historic projects while never forgetting their impact

Isaac Pannell, owner of Pannell Construction in Knoxville, has been working in the East Tennessee region doing work he so deeply cares about. He puts it this way, “I guess you could say that we specialize in residential, commercial, new construction, and old construction, given that a passion I have always had is for historic restorations.” 

It’s not as if this a new direction for Pannell. As Isaac explains it, this is, after all, how he got his start: with a design and construction company that specialized in historic restoration. “Back in those days, that’s basically all we did, historic restoration. I got my start there, learned construction there, and most importantly, learned that there’s a lot of really cool things to take away from some of these projects – these older buildings that have been forgotten or fallen down, that no one seems to care about or have become the eyesore of the neighborhood.”

In fact, Pannell currently has a handful of historic restorations at work at the moment: an 1880s house in the Concord area, as well as a commercial property in the Old Fort Sanders area.

Renovating Kerns Bakery into the present day Kerns Food Hall | Pannell Construction

Historic restorations can be complex. Take, for example, the Old Fort Sanders project. Isaac partnered with architect John Sanders of Sanders Pace on the restoration of an historic commercial building in the area. “Isaac’s work in and around our inner city caught my eye,” says John. “Not all contractors are willing to work on certain project typologies such as existing buildings in certain states of decay. Pannell Construction demonstrates both the ability and the desire to make our design work a reality and in doing so, meeting our shared clients’ goals and aspirations.”

For John and Isaac, their thanks goes back to Sam and Sameera Jiwani, the owners and originators of the project. “It is their willingness to bring back a neighborhood market to the west side of the Fort Sanders district that has made this project possible,” Sanders says. “This building is the last remaining historic produce warehouses, one that has fed Knoxville over many generations, and will create a wonderful backdrop for refined and modern retail spaces that will be used by many for generations to follow.”

Pannell believes deeply in transforming historic spaces. He goes on to say: “There’s a great deal more creative liberty in restoration projects. It would be easy to simply tear the structure down and start from scratch. But, doing that destroys so much of the building’s character. So we always ask ourselves, ‘What can we keep?’ In this Fort Sanders project, for instance, we’re keeping all the original cinderblock, we’re keeping the original layout of the building, and we’re keeping many of the original features, such as the old steel I-beams that run through the middle of it. We’re keeping them because they really tell the story of this building.”

Renovating a past building into East by Orange Hat Brewery | Pannell Construction

Equally as rewarding is keeping the building’s community nature, as these buildings have been “a core part of the community for a long time,” Pannell says.

He and his team have also taken on a project for their own company. “We’re taking a building that had pretty much fallen down, keeping the good parts, removing the bad ones, and making it our new office,” Pannell says. “That, I think, speaks to the heart of restoration – not just tearing down and rebuilding, but taking a building that has shown its age and giving it new life.”

Other historic projects Pannell has worked to transform include the former Kerns Bakery into the new Kerns Food Hall, as well as the Baker Boy Pizza Co. and East by Orange Hat Brewery project. Pannell gained recognition for the latter recently with the acceptance of an Orchid Beautification Award for Redesign/Reuse, hitting home how important it is to re-enliven pieces of our past.

As Pannell says, “It’s important to show the proper respect to that which has come before us.”

900 East Hill Ave #140
Knoxville, TN 37915
(865) 333-9266

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.