It’s been nearly a month since students and employees returned to campus at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and nearly six months since the novel coronavirus pandemic changed so much of campus life. But as life goes on, so does the work of improving UT’s buildings and public spaces to pave the way for future growth while making campus safer and more attractive.
“Over the summer, our teams went into every space on campus, preparing hundreds of classrooms, offices, labs, and meeting spaces to get ready for the start of school in August,” said Roger McDonald, director of construction for Facilities Services. “We removed furniture to ensure social distancing, added hand sanitizer stations, installed plexiglass barriers in many areas of campus, and upgraded the teaching technology to support online learning.”
“With the help of a lot of people, we were able to stay on schedule.”
Outdoor study spaces and hammock stands were installed across campus to provide students with ways to socially distance as they study and relax on Rocky Top.
Pedestrian Walkway Expansion
Work continues this fall on extending the Joe Johnson–John Ward Pedestrian Walkway from the Clarence Brown Theatre westward to Frances Street. The expansion will feature shaded areas with outdoor seating and convenient places to charge electronic devices while perhaps enjoying a meal from the new dining facility being built along the north side of the walkway.
Andy Powers, director of design services for Facilities Services, said it’s all a part of the plan.
“The campus master plan calls for several things, one of which is pushing automobiles and parking to the edge of campus,” Powers said, “and this expansion provides pedestrians with a place to walk where they are the most important thing in the environment.”
The west end of the walkway is designed to be more informal that the east end, Powers said.
“Where the ends of the walkway connect, there will be a large grove of trees. So as you walk through the grove, you realize you’ve entered a different environment, which is really exciting from a design standpoint,” he said. “We think this and the new residence halls and dining facility will bring a lot of life to west campus and make it a really exciting place to be, unlike anything we have.”
New Engineering Complex
To the east, work continues on the new Engineering Complex next to Neyland Stadium. The brick exterior and the roof are in place, and work has moved inside. When complete, the facility will provide 228,000 square feet of classrooms, offices, and state-of-the-art research space for the Tickle College of Engineering.
“The design includes a spectacular atrium staircase that will make a real impression when you see it,” Powers said. The building is set to finish in fall 2021.
The Pride of the Southland Band field project wrapped up this summer with the construction of a new pavilion next to the band tower. The pavilion gives the band a sheltered location to conduct their practices and is available for special events and other activities for students, faculty, and staff.
Construction is nearly complete on the Surge Building on the agricultural campus. Once the final touches are in place, the 19,000-square-foot building will be the temporary home for agriculture faculty and staff as the Ellington Plant Sciences Building is demolished and rebuilt.
Also this summer, workers replaced windows in Perkins Hall on the Hill and completed renovations inside the Haslam Business Building and the Panhellenic Building.
For more information on campus construction projects, visit the Cone Zone website.
Charles Primm (865-974-5180, email@example.com)