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Luxury farm resort uses CLT framing and geothermal system to boost sustainability

Mass Timber

Luxury farm resort uses CLT framing and geothermal system to boost sustainability

The Middle Tennessee property is focused on agricultural innovation and responsible, productive land use.


By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | May 23, 2023
Luxury farm resort uses CLT framing and geothermal system to boost sustainability
The entrance to the Spa at Southall features sustainable wood materials from managed forests. McHugh Construction used cross-laminated and heavy timber to construct most of the resort’s four interconnected buildings that serve as the hub of activity at Southall in Franklin, Tenn. Photo courtesy of Southall

Construction was recently completed on a 325-acre luxury farm resort in Franklin, Tenn., that is dedicated to agricultural innovation and sustainable, productive land use. With sustainability a key goal, The Inn and Spa at Southall was built with cross-laminated and heavy timber, and a geothermal variant refrigerant flow (VRF) heating and cooling system.

The four interconnected buildings totaling 95,000 sf feature 62 guestrooms, an executive boardroom, 15,000 sf spa, all-day dining restaurant and bar, and a 3,700 sf signature seed-to-fork restaurant, January, featuring items grown on-site. Many guestrooms include wood-burning fireplaces, exposed wood beams, and large windows overlooking the natural landscape.

Cross-laminated timber (CLT) and heavy timber were used to frame the structures. Sloped CLT for the lobby eliminated the need for cross bracing and framing to create a large, open space at the main entrance.

The HVAC system employs a water-source geothermal variant refrigerant flow (VRF) system. This system consists of 110 geothermal wells 400 feet deep under the parking lot connected to a geothermal loop within the building. The geothermal system is also used to produce hot water for the guestrooms, spa, and kitchens.

The Inn and Spa at Southall
McHugh Construction has completed construction on the Inn and Spa at Southall in Franklin, Tenn. The luxury resort, set on a 325-acre destination farm, features 62 guestrooms, an executive boardroom, 15,000-square-foot spa, all-day dining restaurant and bar, and a 3,700-square-foot signature seed-to-fork restaurant, January. Photo courtesy of Southall

Conceived seven years ago as a biodynamic working farm, Southall, located near Nashville, includes orchards, greenhouses for hydroponic production, and a seasonal farm stand. The working farm employs both advanced farming technologies and heritage farming techniques—from hydroponics and aquaculture to rotational grazing, permaculture, and terracing—to create a farm of the future with an old-world reverence, according to a news release.

Southall also includes an event center and 16 standalone cottages. Outside of the sustainable working farm and luxury resort, 97% of the property will be maintained as green space.

“Southall’s emphasis on nature and sustainability drove the design, construction and material selection,” said John Sheridan, Executive Vice President of McHugh Construction. “We’re so accustomed to going vertical and building luxury hotel and mixed-use projects in urban areas with tight construction sites; the opportunity to apply our hospitality expertise in building a five-star resort among the bucolic rolling hills of Middle Tennessee was an honor, a challenge and, frankly, a magical experience.”

On the building team:
Owner and/or developer: Paul Mishkin
Design architect: 906 Studio Architects + Interiors
Architect of record: 906 Studio Architects + Interiors
MEP engineer: MMEA Engineers
Structural engineer: McHugh Engineering Group
General contractor/construction manager: McHugh Construction

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