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From taking big steps toward completing three new residence halls to adding more than a thousand new parking spaces, UT is moving ahead this year with our goals for improving our facilities and beautifying the campus.

Big Steps Forward

The first two buildings in the West End residence hall development are rising on the site along 20th Street and are set to open this fall. The remaining debris from the Apartment Residence Hall demolition just to the west will be removed during the spring.

stokely-gibbs-dec-2015-300-225-300x225Work also continues on the new residence hall and parking garage at the corner of Volunteer and Lake Loudoun boulevards. The garage will add 1,050 more spaces to the parking inventory when it opens in time for fall semester. The garage also will offer advanced parking technology that lets users of the UT app see empty and full spaces in the garage in real time.

Facilities Services employees now scattered throughout campus will gather under one roof this May. The future home for Facilities Services is on the site of an old industrial complex at 2000 Sutherland Avenue, at the corner of Concord Street.

Dave Irvin, associate vice chancellor for facilities services, said his group is looking forward to the move.

“The building has a large space that allows us to be in one location instead of multiple locations around campus,” he said, “which makes a tremendous difference for us.”

Irvin said there is a part of the building that is structurally reinforced with its own power, which could allow Facilities Services to stay operational in even the most severe weather conditions. It even could serve as a backup location for an Emergency Operations Center in the event of an emergency on or near campus, he said.

Also this spring, the foundation for the Ken and Blaire Mossman Building on Cumberland Avenue and Thirteenth Street will rise from the ground. Work on the structure should start up by the end of the semester.

“The Mossman Building is a very complex project,” Irvin said, “because of the building’s planned systems and the site’s existing concrete walls, some of which will be removed while others will be reinforced and refinished in our collegiate brick exterior.” The building is projected to finish in 2018.

Work continues at Tom Black Track at LaPorte Stadium this semester. The project is scheduled to finish in late 2016. When complete, the infield will be reconfigured, new irrigation and site drainage systems will be installed and the track will be resurfaced.

One project that is no longer visible is the demolition of the old smokestack at the UT Steam Plant on Lake Loudoun Boulevard. The smokestack was removed over the December break, marking a visible milestone in the campus’s switch from coal to natural gas.

Sophronia Strong Hall continues its transformation into a large and modern science class and laboratory facility. The building will feature eight stories of classrooms and laboratory space plus a mechanical penthouse. The building, set to open in 2017, will be home to the anthropology and earth and planetary sciences departments and will provide laboratory and instruction space for the general biology and chemistry departments.

The second phase of the Student Union continues moving forward this spring, with completion set for 2018.

New Improvement Projects

Workers are repairing the roof of Thompson-Boling Arena this semester. The work will be done in stages to avoid interfering with basketball games and other scheduled events. Later this year, more restrooms will be added, and the locker rooms and dressing rooms will get an update.

Tennis courts at the Goodfriend Tennis Center will be resurfaced and repainted later this semester, along with landscaping improvements. A renovation of the UT Boathouse on Neyland Drive is underway. The facility is home to UT’s rowing program.

Campus Beautification

The landscaping project along Estabrook Road will continue this semester. The project aims to improve the overall appearance of the eastern edge of campus while reclaiming overgrown land along Second Creek as it flows past the Tickle Engineering Building and down to the Tennessee River.

“We received a grant to assist with removing invasive, non-native plant species along Second Creek,” Irvin said. “Once those have been removed, we will replant the area with native Tennessee grasses, shrubs and trees.”

Irvin said additional grant funding is in the works, as well as partnerships with staff and faculty to conduct research as part of the project. “It’s a win-win on a lot of levels,” he said. “I’m pleased we’re doing more of that, being better stewards of resources and investing student green fees in a very cost-effective way.”

New gardens will appear across campus this spring, as well as “vest-pocket parks” that beautify the campus and assist with stormwater control, Irvin said. A garden with outdoor seating will open between Clement Hall and the Vol Shop.

Updating Our Roadmap for the Future

Irvin has been leading a series of public meetings to discuss proposed updates to the UT campus master plan. Those meetings will continue, and the public is invited to learn more and share their thoughts on future growth for the campus. “Conditions change, the needs of the university change, so we feel it’s prudent to review our plans and keep them aligned with our overall goals,” Irvin said.

The proposed updates will be presented to the UT System Board of Trustees at its winter meeting. For more information, visit the Campus Master Plan website.

For more information on campus construction projects, visit the Cone Zone website.


Charles Primm (865-974-5180,