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Construction inside the Zeanah Engineering Complex
Construction inside the Zeanah Engineering Complex on January 6, 2021. Photo by Steven Bridges/University of Tennessee

With the new year now under way, a variety of new and continuing construction projects will greet University of Tennessee, Knoxville, faculty, staff, and students returning to campus for the spring semester. Classes begin Wednesday, January 20.

“Because of COVID, a lot of projects have been put on hold,” said Roger McDonald, director of facilities services construction operations. “At the same time, we are moving forward on quite a few other projects.”

Work continues on the new Zeanah Engineering Complex, the Joe Johnson–John Ward Pedestrian Walkway extension, west campus dining facility, and additional projects.

New Engineering Complex

On the east end of campus, the structure and exterior walls are up on the Zeanah Engineering Complex next to Neyland Stadium. “It is ahead of schedule and under budget,” said Andy Powers, campus architect. When finished in fall 2021, the facility will provide 228,000 square feet of classrooms, maker spaces, flexible research laboratories, and offices for the Tickle College of Engineering, including a new home for the Department of Nuclear Engineering. This video provides an in-depth tour of what the space will have to offer:

West campus dining facility

To the west, work continues on the new dining facility on Andy Holt Avenue. When it opens in fall 2021, the facility will include a full-service Chick-fil-A and a fresh-food concept similar to the one now in place at the Stokely Residence Hall. “The dining area will have extra-large windows, vaulted ceilings, and fireplaces, all with a spacious, comfortable design,” Powers said. “It includes a path of accessibility that will rise from the Andy Holt Mall to the residence halls.”

Construction work on the third floor of the West Campus Dining Facility on January 7, 2021. Photo by Steven Bridges/University of Tennessee

Pedestrian Walkway

Phase I of the Joe Johnson–John Ward Pedestrian Walkway expansion, which goes from the Clarence Brown Theatre westward along Andy Holt Avenue to Frances Street, has been completed. Frances Street, between Presidential Court and Fred Brown Hall, has been closed, although the Office of Equity and Diversity and a service road along the north side of Fred Brown Hall are still accessible. The section of Melrose Avenue from Presidential Court to the Frieson Black Cultural Center is now a two-way street.

Phase II, to begin later in the spring, will extend the walkway to 21st Street.

The hot dog stand on the corner of Melrose Place and Andy Holt Avenue has been relocated to the intersection of Volunteer Boulevard and Pat Head Summitt Street.

In a student-led initiative, plans are being created for the National Panhellenic Plaza, where nine plots will commemorate the struggle of minority fraternities and sororities. The plaza will be located along Andy Holt Mall by Humanities Plaza.

Additional projects

On the Institute of Agriculture campus, construction has been completed on the 19,000-square-foot Third Creek Building. It will be the temporary home for agriculture faculty and staff as the Ellington Plant Sciences Building is demolished and rebuilt. A 161,000-square-foot energy and environmental space research facility, Ellington will include a large auditorium, labs and classrooms, common areas, and a food service area. It will have a green roof that will accommodate social gatherings.

The College of Veterinary Medicine is also adding a 20,000-square-feet simulation and teaching lab that will include gathering spaces.

Work continues on transforming the old Faculty Club and Visitors Center into a creamery to be completed later this spring. “We are also putting in a new freezer system and emergency power source at Brehm to support this,” said McDonald. “If the power goes out, you need to save the ice cream.”

McDonald’s facilities team is also moving the wind tunnel, formerly in Dougherty Hall, to UT Drive Services Building B. “This brings high-level research to that end of campus,” said McDonald.

At Neyland Stadium, design work has begun on a new video board in the north end zone, a resolution of seating issues in the south end zone, and shoring up maintenance issues in the west seating bowl.

Planning has also begun on a longer-term project to create a stormwater pond. “We’re getting ready to start drawings this spring,” said Powers. “It will be a regional stormwater resource, and it will be a park that everyone can enjoy looking at.”

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


Sam Ledford (865-297-3027,

Brooks Clark (865-310-1277,