History and Approach


Formed in 2002, Sanders Pace Architecture combines the design talents of John Sanders and Brandon Pace to provide full service architecture, planning, and design services to clients seeking a thoughtful, progressive solution to their goals and needs. The collaboration of John Sanders and Brandon Pace extends back to 1992, when both were enrolled at the University of Tennessee. After studying together in Europe in 1996, both received Bachelor of Architecture degrees with Honors from the University of Tennessee College of Architecture and Design. Sanders’ subsequent work in Knoxville and Pace’s work in Nashville and New York City was well received as both have been honored on the local, regional, and national levels on projects ranging from furniture and product design and fabrication to designs for prototypical affordable housing and multi-million dollar medical and office space. In 2003, Pace began graduate studies at the Yale University School of Architecture, where he was twice nominated for the schools highest design honor, the H. I. Feldman Prize for Design Excellence, and was the recipient of the Robert Allen Ward Scholarship Award. In 2005 he received his Master of Architecture degree from the University.

In addition to private practice, both John Sanders and Brandon Pace have made a commitment to teaching architecture. Both Sanders and Pace have been Adjunct Faculty at the University of Tennessee. In addition, Pace was a Teaching Fellow at Yale University and has been an invited critic at the Georgia Institute of Technology,  the University of Pennsylvania, the Pratt Institute, Washington University in St. Louis, and the California College of Arts.


We practice in East Tennessee. It’s a region with a variety of contexts from dense urban centers with suburban fringes to sparsely populated pastoral countryside bordering the rugged terrain of the Smoky Mountains. This level of diversity extends to the built environment with these geographies supporting projects varied in type, scale, and complexity.

We seek opportunity in unexpected places and unexplored pasts. We inherit an urban fabric rich in history and embodied energy. As with most mid-sized cities, a dramatic loss of industry during the latter 20th century left a surplus of vacant or underutilized buildings throughout the urban core and environs. The 21st century has brought sustained growth to places like this, with success bringing the often competing ideals of preservation and progress. We operate within this gap – developing strategies that leverage modest interventions against the clearly defined constraints of this historic context. We propose new hybrids that are positioned between instinctive nostalgic historicism and the desire for a new future absent any reference to the people and places of the past. Our work lands at this intersection of past and present, of tradition and innovation. We seek to balance a specificity of place with what is common and understood – engaging but advancing those materials, methods, and systems familiar to our region in new and innovative ways.

We are active and engaged. Our region has a long and storied history of independence and individuality along with a resistance to authority and change that continues unabated. We welcome this spirit but challenge this notion through a conspicuously collaborative design process that is deliberate and intentional. It is open and transparent, resulting in design responses that are broadly informed rather than narrowly defined; places that are specific and appropriate to when and where they are made.