Vida and The Vault

The Holston building has been a staple in the fabric of downtown Knoxville, Tennessee, since 1913. Johnson Architecture partnered with the owners of two commercial floors of The Holston to renovate, restore and preserve the spaces for a high-end restaurant and retro cocktail bar, Vida and The Vault, respectively, that opened in January 2021. The luxurious entertainment and dining venues showcase special historical elements.

Johnson Architecture brought extensive preservation and restoration experience and expertise to the project. Vida, a pan-Latin restaurant, now invites diners to the ground floor of The Holston. The Vault, a cocktail bar in the basement level, offers unique spaces as a destination, or as a stop for a drink before dinner.

The firm provided layout assistance, codes interpretation and exterior design concepts for the restaurant and cocktail bar. It also secured the construction permits and assisted in coordinating approvals from multiple agencies for the outdoor space and exterior changes.

Johnson Architecture worked closely with interior designer SK Ballard Contract Interiors, contractor Jenkins & Stiles, LLC and the owners, Jim and Lori Klonaris, on the implementation of one of Knoxville’s most creative, rich and comfortable restaurant designs with a location in a former bank lobby. The firm also partnered with the team for the luxurious basement cocktail bar located in the former bank vault.

Efforts were made to salvage as much of the original relics and hardware as possible. The original art deco details, such as metal railings, give a nod to the history of the space. Of particular interest is the marble staircase that descends from ground level to The Vault. All of the century-old marble was preserved and the original vendor, Tennessee Marble Company, returned – 108 years later – to match and install new marble to repair areas that had been chipped and broken over time.

The entrance to The Vault gives visitors no doubt that this area had been dedicated to banking. An original safe door made from metal and featuring exposed combination gears also remains and now welcomes patrons as they enter.


Knox Heritage East Tennessee Preservation Award, 2021

Johnson Architecture is a design firm that provides architecture, planning, and full in-house interior design services for projects of all types including commercial, education, entertainment, government, industrial, medical, residential, restaurant and spiritual.

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