With spring commencement ceremonies wrapped up, the campus is gearing up for a summer full of campus construction and beautification projects.
A new beautification project starting this summer is the makeover of Volunteer Boulevard.
Starting May 29, all lanes of Volunteer Boulevard between UT Drive and Pat Head Summitt Street will close for the summer. During the closure, workers will add pedestrian-friendly street lighting, trees, benches, tables and chairs, along with new sidewalks, curbs, and crosswalks. Mid-block crosswalks will be raised slightly above street level to assist with traffic calming. The remaining on-street curbside parking spots will be removed and the outside lanes will be slightly widened.
Trees and shrubs will be installed during the fall planting season in October. Future phases will extend the new landscaping along Volunteer Boulevard to Cumberland Avenue.
“Our plan is to transform Volunteer Boulevard from a gash of concrete into a ribbon of green that links our campus from east to west,” said Dave Irvin, associate vice chancellor for facilities services.
Also in May, Facilities Services will start moving to their new home north of campus on Sutherland Avenue. The new Facilities Services Building is a 91,000-square-foot building with offices, warehouse space, and workshops. The facility features an exterior silo and overhead cranes as a reminder of its past as an industrial site, while sporting a new Big Orange façade on the exterior.
UT will reach a major milestone with the opening of the first two residence halls in the West End Redevelopment project. Construction on the two buildings on the site of the former Shelbourne Towers apartment complex is set to finish in early August, in time to welcome students at the start of the fall semester.
In June, UT will break ground on a new parking garage on Lake Avenue. The garage will feature 1,000 spots for commuter students, faculty, and staff, with public parking also available during the day and on weekends.
In July, an additional 1,000 parking spots will be available with the opening of the parking garage next to the Stokely Family Residence Hall on Volunteer Boulevard. The residence hall and its “Fresh Food Company” dining unit are set to open in January 2017. The residence hall has housing space for more than 680 students, and the dining unit has a seating capacity of 750.
Exterior work will be done on Sophronia Strong Hall as the modern science classroom and laboratory facility enters its final phase. It is set to open in stages beginning in January 2017. This summer, workers will be adding polished limestone to the interior walls of the oval atrium, which promises to be a showcase facility for the building and the campus.
The Estabrook Road streetscape project is set to finish this summer, with new retaining walls, sidewalks, curbs, lighting, and enhanced Wi-Fi access along the eastern edge of campus. This fall, old plants will be removed and replaced with new plants that are native to East Tennessee.
Students and staff on campus during the summer will see superstructures start to rise from the ground at the Ken and Blaire Mossman Building and the second phase of the Student Union project, Irvin said.
Outdoor courts at the Goodfriend Tennis Center will receive a makeover this summer. The courts will be resurfaced in Smokey Gray and feature the Power T. New pavilions will be built on the far ends of the courts, and new LED lighting will be installed. The existing pavilion will be renovated, repaired, and reroofed.
The sidewalk along the Blueberry Falls area next to the Student Union will close May 30 as work crews repair a nearby steam line. The detour for pedestrians in this area is through the Student Union or over the pedestrian bridge. Work should finish by the start of classes in the fall.
Other continuing projects include upgrades to campus classrooms, the switchover of AFC Express to Panda Express in the Student Union, the reroofing of Thompson-Boling Arena and improvements to Tom Black Track at LaPorte Stadium.
For more information on campus construction projects, visit the Cone Zone website.
Charles Primm (865-974-5180, email@example.com)