Johnson Architecture project Vida and The Vault earns East Tennessee Preservation Award

May 21, 2021

Vida and The Vault, designed by Johnson Architecture, has earned a 2021 East Tennessee Preservation Award for the transformation of two commercial levels of The Holston building into dining and entertainment venues. Award winners were announced at a virtual ceremony on May 20.

Johnson Architecture worked with interior designer SK Ballard Contract Interiors and contractor Jenkins & Stiles, LLC, to implement the vision of owners Jim and Lori Klonaris for restaurant Vida in a former bank lobby and a basement cocktail bar, The Vault, located in the bank’s former vault.

Vida and The Vault, designed by Johnson Architecture, earned a 2021 East Tennessee Preservation Award from Knox Heritage at a virtual ceremony on May 20. A former bank lobby and vault have been transformed into a pan-Latin restaurant and cocktail bar at 531 S. Gay St. in downtown Knoxville.

“The Holston building has been a downtown Knoxville landmark for 108 years,” said Daryl Johnson, founder and president of Johnson Architecture. “The bank spaces are so unique and steeped in history, our team designed with preservation in mind. The result nods to history by showcasing special historical elements with all modern comforts. All partners came together to create this special vision, and I appreciate this recognition.”

East Tennessee Preservation Awards are presented annually by Knox Heritage and the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance to recognize outstanding individuals, organizations and projects contributing to historic preservation efforts within a 16-county region.

Located at 531 S. Gay St., Vida, is a pan-Latin restaurant on the ground floor of The Holston. The marble staircase that descends to cocktail bar, The Vault, was preserved and the original vendor, Tennessee Marble Company, matched and installed new marble to repair areas that had been chipped and broken over time.

The entrance to The Vault boasts an original metal bank safe door featuring exposed combination gears. Efforts were made to salvage as much of the original relics and hardware as possible, such as art deco metal railings.

“The Holston is a symbol of Knoxville’s dynamic history, evolving in step with the times,” Johnson said. “It has a promising future thanks to careful, loving restoration and preservation that has been addressed with every iteration.”