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Strong Hall renderingWork has begun on turning the vacant Sophronia Strong Hall into a large and modern science class and laboratory facility. The two-year, $114 million project marks the first big step in addressing the university’s need for general class and laboratory space.

The new nine-story, 268,000-square-foot building will be home to the anthropology and earth and planetary sciences departments and also provide critical instruction and lab space for the general biology and chemistry departments. Work began on reassignment of utilities and asbestos abatement this week.

Strong Hall was built in 1925 and served as a women’s residence hall until 2008. The renovation and expansion project will preserve 20,000 square feet of the original structure, including the building’s distinctive front arches. The front stone wall and footbridge across Cumberland Avenue also will be preserved. The project also includes the restoration of a small Queen Anne style gardener’s cottage on the north corner of the site.

strong-hall-2014-01The state included $75 million for Strong Hall in this year’s capital budget. The university will fund the remaining cost as part of the funding formula for new higher education facilities.

The facility will feature an open and flexible laboratory design and collaborative learning and research spaces. It also will be energy efficient and sustainable and built to meet LEED Silver standards.

The university updated its master plan in 2011, and the process identified a deficit in general classroom, laboratory, and research space. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s standard space formula estimated the campus needed 870,000 more gross square feet of space just to serve its current enrollment. The master plan set several large class and laboratory facilities as top building priorities for the campus to help meet this standard.

As Strong Hall construction begins, the design process is continuing on a new classroom and laboratory facility along Thirteenth Street and Cumberland Avenue. The 220,000-square-foot building will be built next to the Jesse Harris Building and house research laboratories, a vivarium, classrooms, and faculty offices.

The building projects are critical to the university’s goal for becoming a Top 25 public research university. Growing research and graduate education programs and enhancing the student experience are key elements to moving the university forward.

C O N T A C T :

Karen Simsen (865-974-5186,