Faculty and staff have begun moving into the new Strong Hall, a state-of-the-art classroom and laboratory building. The facility’s innovative design has already piqued the interest of universities around the country.
Final details are being wrapped up as faculty and staff from the departments of biology, chemistry, anthropology, and earth and planetary sciences move into the building on Cumberland Avenue this month. Summer semester classes in chemistry and biology and other general education classes will be held in the building beginning in June.
“Strong Hall is the first addition of a general classroom and laboratory building in many years, which is good news in its own right,” said Dave Irvin, associate vice chancellor for facilities services. “But it’s also a major leap forward in our teaching and research capacity.
“Universities from around the U.S. are already looking at the design of these rooms.”
The Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center was heavily involved in the design of the building’s lecture rooms, to emphasize collaborative team learning, Irvin said. Faculty who use the rooms must redesign their courses to be more interactive and fully use their cutting-edge technology. Data from these classes will be collected and used to re-engineer each course’s syllabus to make it more efficient and effective, he said.
Even as it looks to the future, the 268,000-square-foot building also preserves some pieces of the past.
Front entrance archways from as the old Sophronia Strong Hall, the residence hall that previously occupied the site, have been preserved in an arcade along the west side of the building. One of the old building’s bays has been fully restored on the building’s east side. Next to the restored bay is an oval three-story limestone-walled atrium that will be used for gatherings and events.
“The atrium is so spectacular that we expect a long waiting list for campus groups wishing to use it,” Irvin said.
Original exterior door headstones carved with names of UT’s first five female students were saved to create an exterior rock garden.
The Cowan Cottage, a restored 19th-century Queen Anne-style gardener’s cottage behind Strong Hall, was refurbished and will available to house classes and meetings by the start of classes in the fall.
The nearby pedestrian bridge over Cumberland Avenue also is set to open by the fall semester.
For more information on Strong Hall and other construction projects, visit the Cone Zone.