Board Approves Knoxville and Agriculture Campus Master Plan

The UT Board of Trustees approved on Friday an update to the Campus Master Plan, which serves as a guide for future construction and renovation improvements on the Knoxville and Institute of Agriculture campuses.

The Master Plan’s guiding principles are consistent with the 2011 Master Plan. These principles seek to develop a safe, accessible, and pedestrian-friendly campus, to optimize limited acreage and space, and to promote sustainability, among other goals.

pedestrian mall extension 2015

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission and the State Building Commission will consider the plan over the next several months. Approval from both bodies is necessary before it can be adopted.

Updates to the plan increase the focus on campus beautification and connectedness and add new ideas for reuse and renovation of existing facilities.

Stakeholders involved in the update considered a number of changes that have occurred since 2011, most notably a five-year surge in building, renovation, and beautification. A new emphasis has also been placed on renovating and reusing existing facilities. In some cases, buildings once slated for demolition will be used as surge space or renovated to serve other campus needs.

Since 2011, opportunities for funding and other needs have changed the timeline or scope of projects and added new projects. The conversion of the coal-fired steam plant to natural gas was added when the state funded the project. The Stokely Family Residence Hall, set for completion in January 2017, was added and the adjacent parking garage enlarged. The Lake Avenue Parking Garage, first projected for the long term, will break ground this summer. A long-term plan for extending the Johnson-Ward Pedestrian Walkway has become part of the West Campus Redevelopment and will likely occur in the near term.

The Melrose Hall project is larger and now involves renovating nearly 50,000 gross square feet. Pasqua and Estabrook Halls are being evaluated for incorporation into the Engineering Services Building in the near term.

Just a few of the projects that have been completed since 2011 are the Brehm Animal Science Building, the McLeod Food Technology Building, the Clyde M. York Veterinary Medicine Building, the RecSports Fields at Sutherland, the John D. Tickle Engineering Building, the Min H. Kao Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building, the Natalie L. Haslam Music Center, the first phase of the Student Union, the Student Health Building, the Joan Cronan Volleyball Center, the Anderson Training Center, and the Cumberland Building.

Our Campus Boundaries

The update also slightly extends our institutional zone, or the boundaries of our campus.

The northeast boundary adjacent to the Fort Sanders neighborhood has not changed since 2011. One block has been added to the north side of Lake Avenue to help create a stronger pedestrian connection from Cumberland Avenue to the main campus.

A section along Concord Street and Sutherland Avenue has been added to include the new Facilities Services Building and a large tract now deeded to another state agency, among other nearby properties.

This commercial and industrial area is well suited to serve other off-campus functions. The plan recommends identifying nonacademic functions that can be moved to alternative sites to help maximize the use of the core campus for academic purposes.

The Knoxville campus has more than 400 acres, with 375 acres of core campus property. The UT Institute of Agriculture has 75 acres. A total of 299,834 gross square feet is now being built, being renovated, or in the planning stages with committed funding. The updated Master Plan calls for an additional 47,800 gross square feet to be added in the near term or within the next five years.

The university’s long-range needs exceed property that UT owns or can purchase through parcel-by-parcel acquisitions. To meet future needs, UT will have to incorporate more innovative design principles, build with more density, and add taller buildings when appropriate, according to the plan.

The West Campus Redevelopment, a plan for improving and modernizing residential facilities, was incorporated into the updated Master Plan. The redevelopment involves replacing or repurposing residence halls built in the 1960s. Two of the plan’s residence halls are set to open in August.

More Green Space and Pedestrian Pathways

 The plan identifies open spaces on the the Hill, Circle Park, Fiji Island, Morgan Hill, Indian Mound, and UT Gardens that should be enhanced. The plan also recommends adding more interconnected pedestrian pathways by eventually closing the remaining stretch of Andy Holt Avenue and the east end of Volunteer Boulevard.

Careful building siting and renovations provide opportunities for pocket parks such as Melrose Park, Fiji Island, and Indian Mound. The plan also notes opportunities for improving the streetscape along Lake Avenue and making additional improvements to the Volunteer Boulevard streetscape.

Green spaces along Cumberland Avenue between the College of Law, Henson Hall, Hoskins Library, and the Jessie W. Harris Building should also be improved by adding new entranceways and setbacks. This area will also be improved through new pedestrian pathways between the new Student Union (Phase Two) and Strong Hall, now under construction.

More information about the Campus Master Plan and its update can be found at masterplan.utk.edu.