Walkways, Buildings Part of New UT Campus Master Plan

KNOXVILLE — A University of Tennessee planning team has recommended a major campus “facelift” as part of a new master plan to create fewer cars, more green space and better facilities at UT.

The changes also would strengthen UT ties with the City of Knoxville, improve the campus’ character and appearance and attract top faculty and students, according to the report by UT’s Campus Planning Advisory Committee.

UT President J. Wade Gilley appointed the 14-member committee in January to update UT’s 1994 master plan and implement a five-year campus improvement plan. UT Architecture Dean Marleen Davis chairs the committee.

The report to Gilley and UT trustees puts top priority on improving pedestrian areas near Andy Holt and Melrose avenues and Ayres Hill, redesigning campus signs and lighting, and beautifying campus gates and entrances.

Gilley said construction on these priority projects could begin by spring and will be funded by $800,000 annually from student facilities fees.

Input on the master plan has been garnered through a series of campus and community forums and through feedback from a master plan Internet Web page at http://ur.utenn.edu/masterplan, he said.

“Based on widespread input throughout the campus and master plan process, this five-year plan is consistent with the master plan goals to make UT’s campus more pedestrian friendly,” Gilley said. “These improvements will provide an overall impression of quality in all aspects of the campus, allowing UT to recruit and retain the highest quality students and faculty.”

A final master plan draft is expected by April, Gilley said, and will be presented to UT’s Board of Trustees at the spring meeting.

Davis said the group also is considering relocating all parking lots to the outside areas of campus and incorporating an “orange line” of the city bus system to provide campus transportation.

Davis said the committee is particularly sensitive to issues relating to the City of Knoxville, such as historic preservation and transportation, especially in campus perimeter areas such as Cumberland Avenue, Fort Sanders and Neyland Drive.

“We want to make sure the city and campus are informed of issues that impact both, and that the master plan is emblematic of the spirit of cooperation,” Davis said.

The committee also seeks to define new facility needs to meet UT’s goals to enhance research, information technology and academic quality, she said.

This includes renovations of UT’s business and music buildings, Ayres and Estabrook halls, and construction of a new $20 million research center. UT’s Board of Trustees recently approved these projects.

“These changes are more than just aesthetics,” Davis said. “They are going to help us recruit against other universities which certainly have better-looking campuses than we do.

“If we are going to strive to be a top 25 university, we have to look like one.”