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UT’s innovative Strong Hall, the university’s first general classroom and lab building in many years, is among several new additions and upgrades awaiting the campus community for the new academic year.

The building opened for summer classes in June.

“Strong Hall is so great that students and employees ought to come see it, even if they don’t have any classes or meetings there,” said Dave Irvin, associate vice chancellor for facilities services. “Its entrance space is one of the great places on campus. It’ll knock your socks off.”

The atrium isn’t the building’s only impressive feature, Irvin said. Its lecture rooms feature state-of-the-art teaching technology to encourage team learning.

The Cowan Cottage, a restored 19th-century gardener’s cottage adjacent to Strong Hall, is being refurbished and will be available for use in January.

More checkerboards on campus

The Ken and Blaire Mossman Building, another large classroom and laboratory building, and the second phase of the Student Union are making visible progress.

One fun detail that keen-eyed observers of the new buildings will notice is the replication of the famous brick-and-limestone checkerboard pattern on the exterior of Ayres Hall.

“The checkerboard is one of the design touches that make Tennessee unique, and seeing it elsewhere on campus gives you a real sense of place,” Irvin said.

The decorative pattern on Ayres Hall also served as the inspiration for the famous orange-and-white endzones on Neyland Stadium’s Shields-Watkins Field. The idea came after Vol football coach General Robert Neyland would motivate his players by urging them to “charge the checkerboard!” when they were on offense and facing north toward Ayres Hall.

Student Union

The Student Union will complete its second and final phase in spring 2019.

The Mossman Building on Cumberland Avenue across from the Hill, will house portions of microbiology, psychology, nutrition, biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology. It will have labs, general purpose classrooms, and interactive lecture halls similar to those in Strong Hall. The building is set to open next summer.

Redeveloping our residence halls

The west campus redevelopment is also moving forward with the construction of two new residence halls on the west end of Andy Holt Avenue. The goal of the project is to improve student housing and accommodate additional living and learning communities. The two new residence halls are scheduled to open in spring 2019.

Site preparations also continue for a new parking garage on Lake Avenue. When it opens in fall 2018, the garage will feature the same electronic real-time information on open parking spaces that is now in use in the parking garage next door to Stokely Hall on Volunteer Boulevard.

The second phase of the Volunteer Boulevard streetscape project is wrapping up. The section from Pat Head Summitt Street to Peyton Manning Pass now features wider lanes and new landscaping along the sidewalks. All four lanes of Volunteer Boulevard between Pat Head Summitt Street and Lake Loudoun Boulevard are expected to open later this fall.

Like new on the inside

New buildings and improved roadways are all visible improvements to campus, Irvin said, but very important work was taking place that most people don’t see.

“It’s been a record year so far for building renovations,” he said. UT performed more than $6 million in deferred maintenance this summer, with hundreds of classrooms getting new furniture and a fresh coat of paint.

Among the most visible renovation projects are the pedestrian bridge over Cumberland Avenue, the student lounge area outside Clement Hall, and the parking information booth at the entrance to Circle Park. Indoor renovations that will catch the eye include the auditorium in Buehler Hall, several classrooms in the Jesse Harris building, and flooring in the TREC facility.

Crews also have been busy this summer on athletics facilities, Irvin said, with the expansion of Haslam Field and renovations at the boathouse on Neyland Drive and the Goodfriend Tennis Center. Tom Black Track at LaPorte Stadium remains closed while renovations to the facility are taking place, and is set to open in March 2018.

In Neyland Stadium, workers are repainting the Jumbotron and installing new plumbing in the locker rooms. The big renovation of Neyland Stadium that was approved last year is set to begin at the conclusion of next year’s football season.


Charles Primm (865-974-5180,