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An elevation illustration for the renovated Torchbearer Plaza. Work is set to begin in spring 2015.Spring semester has arrived, and it’s now peak season for our efforts to transform our campus. Several ongoing projects will soon cross major milestones, while a few new upgrades will kick off later this spring.

Upcoming projects include a renovation of Circle Park and the Torchbearer Plaza in the heart of campus and a widening and redevelopment of a section of Second Creek beside the Tickle Engineering Building at Neyland Drive.

The new Student Union will open the first building in late spring. Once the new four-story facility opens, the second and final phase will begin with taking down the remaining University Center.

Strong Hall is now growing skyward to become a nine-story modern classroom and laboratory facility on Cumberland Avenue, opening in 2017. A new parking garage and residence hall on the site of the former Stokely Athletics Center and Gibbs Hall are now taking form, with the garage scheduled to open in 2016 and the residence hall opening in 2017.

Renovations continue in Henson Hall, with office spaces set to finish in late spring and classroom improvements finishing in the fall. Laboratory space and a conference room on the second floor of the Austin Peay building also are being renovated, and the work should be completed by late spring.

We are also focused on our master plan goals for creating more pedestrian-friendly and welcoming outdoor space and improving the linkage between all of our buildings and campus landscaping.

Dave Irvin, associate vice chancellor for facilities services, says UT is using landscaping just as much as the design of buildings to tell the university’s story.

“Rather than having a collection of stand-alone structures, we want to use unified landscaping and exterior design to knit together our buildings into an exciting necklace,” he said.

The Circle Park renovation will begin after spring commencement in May and will include new sidewalks, trees, landscaping, sod, and irrigation systems, and should be finished by the start of the fall semester.

The rebuilding of Torchbearer Plaza also will begin in May and will include streetscaping elements such as benches, trash receptacles, trees along the street, a new accessible path from the plaza to Circle Park, and new retaining walls to match the current campus standard. The famed Torchbearer statue will stay in place during the construction. The addition of streetscaping along Volunteer Boulevard also will enhance the passenger experience for those waiting on the T campus shuttle. The project is set to finish by the start of fall semester.

Redevelopment of Second Creek alongside the Tickle Engineering Building will begin in May and is set to be completed by the start of classes in the fall.

“In essence, we’re building a whole new creek,” Irvin said. “We’ll be cleaning up the scrub along the bank, adding outdoor seating, extending wireless Internet coverage, and connecting it to the city’s bicycle and pedestrian paths,” he said. “It will look like an extension of the decorative waterfall at World’s Fair Park.”

The extension of the Blueberry Falls landscaping project on the south side of the Student Union is set to finish in January and will feature a water cascade along the length of the greenway, new lighting, seating, and bicycle parking.

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


Charles Primm (865-974-5180,