Work will begin in May, after spring commencement, on a renovation of Torchbearer Plaza and Circle Park.
The rebuilt plaza will feature new trees, seating, streetscape elements, and sidewalks. Updates to the rest of the park will include new paths, trees, landscaping, trash receptacles, and irrigation systems.
Dave Irvin, associate vice chancellor for facilities services, says the plaza and park will be completely renovated while still keeping their original character.
“We’re enlarging the size of the plaza, which will allow better access for the Vol Walk and for graduation photos,” Irvin said, “But the plaza will still retain its classic feel.”
The retaining wall around the Torchbearer statue will be completely renovated, and the engraved bricks that surround the statue will be relocated next to the existing bricks on the walkway through Circle Park. The area around the statue will feature new pavers.
Contractors will protect the sculpture throughout the course of the project, and the torch will be extinguished during construction for safety reasons. The torch will be relit before fall semester classes begin.
A major improvement in Circle Park will be the addition of XtraGrass, a new type of landscaping that blends and reinforces natural grass with artificial turf, offering the look and feel of natural grass with increased resistance to wear.
“This project puts UT on the cutting edge of turf grass technology,” Irvin said. “XtraGrass will help maintain the turf at Circle Park to a high standard, even as the park receives some of the harshest activity throughout the year, particularly for home football tailgating activities.”
Circle Park will be completely closed off as crews work to install the sod, pathway lighting, and the irrigation system. A new walkway and ramp will align to the entrance of McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture and nearby parking. Circle Park Drive will remain open to traffic during the project.
In addition to visible improvements, Wi-Fi coverage will be improved in the area with the installation of additional Internet access points.
The project will be completed before the beginning of the fall semester.
For more information on campus construction projects, visit the Cone Zone.
Brooke Krempa (firstname.lastname@example.org)