What a Difference a Summer Makes! Projects Are Transforming Our Campus

Whether you’re arriving on campus for the first time or simply returning for another year, you’re in for some pleasant surprises as you explore campus.

In just three months, our campus improved—and transformational work is still underway. Here are some of the most exciting changes you’ll see:

  • Students Union is open. The first phase of the Student Union opened this summer, and work has commenced on the second phase. Learn more about the newly-opened building on the Student Union website
  • New eats. With the opening of the Student Union, there are some delicious new restaurants to try. Qdoba, Salad Creations, and AFC Sushi & Wok are the new dining options; Chick-Fil-A, Subway, and Starbucks are back, too. Also this semester, you can use your VolCard account at twenty-four participating off-campus merchants with more businesses expected to join as the year goes on.
  • Spruced up Circle Park. Torchbearer Plaza and Circle Park got a facelift over the summer. The park boasts new sidewalks, benches, and an accessible pathway. There is a new retaining wall, along with new trees, landscaping, sod, and irrigation systems. Learn more about the project.
  • Engineering Quad. The new plaza on Middle Drive will feature benches, tables, and bike racks and will preserve the area’s existing trees. It will have enhanced Wi-Fi access along with new sidewalks, curbs, lighting, benches, and trees to create a parklike setting. A staircase will connect the plaza with Estabrook Road.
  • Strong Hall construction going strong. Construction of this new modern science classroom and laboratory facility is going strong. The 268,000-square-foot building will boast eight stories of classrooms and laboratory space plus a mechanical penthouse. The building will be home to the anthropology and earth and planetary sciences departments and also will provide critical instruction and lab space for the general biology and chemistry departments.
  • New residence hall taking shape. The new residence hall on the former site of Gibbs Hall is taking shape, with brick being laid on the south side of the building. The hall, which will include a new dining facility, is scheduled to open in the spring 2017, and the adjacent 1,000-spot parking garage is set to open in August 2016.
  • West campus housing redux. Two residence halls replacing Shelbourne Towers are now under construction and the Apartment Residence Hall has been demolished. This is all part of a plan to replace six existing high-rise facilities around Presidential Court with six new residence halls and a dining facility.
  • Cumberland Avenue. Although construction will snarl traffic a bit, the end result is going to be worth the wait. The City of Knoxville is redesigning Cumberland Avenue from Alcoa Highway east to Seventeenth Street, changing the existing four-lane street to three lanes with a raised median and left-turn lanes at intersections. Sidewalks will be widened and landscaped, and utilities will be buried—all to create a more attractive, pedestrian-friendly corridor.

For more information about these and other ongoing projects, see the Cone Zone website.