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Students and faculty returning to Rocky Top next week can expect to see several large transformations to campus.

Most notable are the new Fred D. Brown Jr. Residence Hall and the new pedestrian bridge connecting the Johnson-Ward Pedestrian Walkway to the Hill. A new location to eat and shop will open along Cumberland Avenue, just in time for the Volunteers’ home opener game on August 31.

Dave Irvin, associate vice chancellor for Facilities Services, says while everyone is excited about big visible changes, many of the best improvements are just under the surface.

New and Shiny

After a whirlwind summer of improvement projects, students will enjoy dramatic upgrades to classrooms and learning environments across campus. Many colleges received some sort of boost, from new carpeting, windows, furniture, and paint to upgrades to wired and wireless Internet connectivity and installation of the latest audio-video instructional technology.

“Some of these upgrades were not as dramatic as others,” Irvin said, “but they were necessary incremental improvements that make a big impact.”

The lion’s share of the work has taken place in the Art and Architecture Building, with an upgrade of the building’s electrical systems; all-new furniture for classrooms; computer work stations; and technological upgrades for student labs and design studios.

More than thirty campus buildings received a new roof or had significant repairs made this summer.

StudentUnion-bridge-webKey Road and Bridge Opens Around Student Union Project

Key elements of the Student Union project are taking shape, or finishing, in time for the fall. The new pedestrian bridge, which spans Phillip Fulmer Way and restores a key link to the Hill, will open before classes start on August 20.

The bridge connects the Haslam Business Building, Volunteer Boulevard, and the Joe Johnson–John Ward Pedestrian Walkway to the Hill. On the east side of the bridge, the steps and landscape have been redone, and access to the top of the Hill has been improved by a pedestrian path through the nearby Austin Peay building.

The Staff 9 parking lot, just south of the Student Union site and across from Neyland Stadium, reopened earlier this month. It has new lighting, plants, and a landscape design that includes a brick retaining wall along Phillip Fulmer Way.

Phillip Fulmer Way from Cumberland Avenue to Middle Drive will reopen by August 20 after being closed for months.

A New Gathering Place

A large-scale renovation to the university’s new Cumberland Building, at the corner of Cumberland Avenue and Seventeenth Street, will give the campus community more options for dining and retail purchases. The facility will house a Vol Shop and food vendors including Panda Express and Raising Cane’s. The food area will have a stage suitable for live radio shows, events by the departments of music and theatre, and other public activities.

The new Joan Cronan Volleyball Center on Stevenson Drive next to the Regal Soccer Stadium will open in October. Work continues on Strong Hall, and the adjacent pedestrian bridge across Cumberland Avenue has closed to accommodate construction.

Demolition has concluded on the old Stokely Athletics Center and Gibbs Hall buildings. Workers are relocating utilities and preparing the foundation for a new residence hall, dining facility, and parking garage on the Volunteer Boulevard site.

For more information on these and other construction projects, visit the Cone Zone.


Charles Primm (865-974-5180,