KNOXVILLE — Work has commenced to move the Rock, a beloved landmark and venue for student self-expression on the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, campus. The Rock will be transported to its new site, across the street from where it now sits, on Wednesday.
Final preparations for the move will begin at 8 a.m. Wednesday and the move is likely to occur within a few hours of that.
The Rock is moving about 275 feet diagonally across the street, from its current location south of Volunteer Boulevard, near the intersection of Pat Head Summitt Street, to its new location, north of Volunteer Boulevard, near the intersection of Pat Head Summitt Street, near the Music Building. The move is necessary because construction of the new Student Health Center, set to begin this fall and take 18 months, will leave little space for the Rock, which students and others often paint multiple times per day.
Workers are on the scene today, digging out around the 80-ton Rock and laying it on its side on a bed of straw and boards. On Wednesday, a crane will be brought in to hoist the Rock onto a flatbed truck so it can be moved to the new site.
Portions of several parking lots, including Staff Lot 23 near the Music Building and directly behind the Rock, as well as some street parking, will be closed while the work is under way. A short stretch of Volunteer Boulevard will be closed Wednesday during the actual move.
To prepare the Rock’s new site, workers dug up a portion of Staff Lot 23 near the Music Building and brought in extra dirt to raise the site. That parking lot will be closed when the new music building is constructed.
A hole will be dug at the new site to create a foundation for the Rock.
If the Rock — which is known to have a fissure — were to break during transport, a replacement rock will be placed at the new site. If this happens, the Rock will be hauled away for possible future use. That may include breaking it apart, selling the pieces and donating the proceeds to a charity to be chosen by UT students.
A celebration of the Rock in its new site is being planned for noon on Aug. 18. More details will be announced soon.
Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Jeff Maples said plans for the location where the Rock currently sits have changed over time and the decision to put an expanded, 109,242-square-foot Student Health Center there won’t leave adequate space for the Rock. This move will be the landmark’s second confirmed move in campus history.
“We looked at several options, but finally concluded that moving the Rock was our only choice. We’ve chosen a new location that is an equally high-profile area,” Maples said. “The new location will enhance our plan to extend the pedestrian walkway, add green space and develop a gathering place for students in an ‘arts quad’ concept.”
Betsey Creekmore, associate vice chancellor for space and facilities, said the Rock was moved to its current location soon after it was discovered in 1966 during campus construction in the area.
Maples said it was important to move the Rock in the summer, before the start of the fall semester.
“We need to move it during the summer while traffic is light on campus,” he said.
Share your photos and stories about the Rock at http://www.utk.edu/therock/.
Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, firstname.lastname@example.org)