UT Granted Approval to Purchase White Avenue Houses

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UT has been granted state approval to purchase properties on White Avenue in Fort Sanders to build a new classroom/laboratory facility on Cumberland Avenue.

The proposal to the State Building Commission helps UT address a significant shortfall of academic space. The Commission’s approval authorizes the purchase of three large houses.

The houses at 1302, 1308, and 1312 White Avenue are within UT’s institutional zone defined in the campus master plan.

The new four-to-five story building, identified as Class Lab Building 1, will provide approximately 200,000 gross square feet of new academic space along Cumberland Avenue between UT’s Jessie Harris Building and Hoskins Library and across from the Hill.

The master plan identified a deficit of 560,000 gross square feet in classrooms and laboratories. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s space guidelines formula was used to estimate the deficit based on the 2009 enrollment of approximately 27,000 students.

Chris Cimino, vice chancellor for finance and administration, said land analyses conducted over the last two years have considered how the building will be used and how best to build it on land UT already owns.

“We explored other building sites, but we concluded that proximity of Jessie Harris and the Hill is critical to the successful use and function of the facility,” Cimino said.

Cimino said the university’s purchase of the buildings provides flexibility in decision making as the project moves forward. Next steps involve exploring options through schematic design. They will be reviewed and considered by the Campus Planning and Design Committee and UT administrators.

The university has communicated with neighborhood representatives, several property owners, the City of Knoxville, and other stakeholders. UT will also seek approval from the City of Knoxville to close Thirteenth Street from Cumberland to White Avenue for the project.

The Class Lab Building 1 will house portions of microbiology, biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology, psychology, nutrition, a vivarium, shared laboratories, and general-purpose classrooms.

This project is one of several identified in the master plan’s short term to address the class and lab space deficit. Renovating and expanding Strong Hall on Cumberland Avenue is the first project, which will add 230,000 square feet. Tennessee’s General Assembly approved $94 million for the project this year and design is expected to begin soon.

Strong Hall will provide new and improved space for the departments of anthropology, earth and planetary sciences, biology, and chemistry. A large-scale renovation and expansion of Melrose Hall will follow.

UT’s master plan acknowledges the challenges in meeting current and future needs within the university’s 560-acre campus, which is bordered by the Tennessee River, major interstates, Cumberland Avenue, and Fort Sanders and downtown. For more information on the master plan, visit masterplan.utk.edu.

C O N T A C T:

Whitney Heins (865-974-5460, wheins@utk.edu)

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