The University of Tennessee plans to build a new parking garage, residence hall, and a dining facility after the demolishing of Stokely Athletics Center and Gibbs Hall. This future construction project is not only out of necessity, but it is also related to UT’s goals in becoming a top 25 public research university.
“You might say what is dining, and parking, and residential halls have to do with all that , it’s really a recognition that to support our students and our campus it’s more than just about having great classrooms,” said Dave Irvin associate vice chancellor of facilities services.
Irvin also said that great classrooms are only a part of achieving that goal and that UT has a lot of projects addressing that aspect too. “It’s really about how do we support students in all aspects of their life. How do we provide them the best facilities possible so we can do everything we can to guarantee their success,” said Irvin.
A new parking garage, residence hall, and a practice football does sound like a lot for such a small site. Irvin admits that it will be a balancing act. “How you do all of these in an integrative way on such a critical portion of campus. It’s going to be our challenge and our opportunity,” Irvin said.
The goal is to have Stokely and Gibbs completely removed by summer 2014. Then there will be an expansion of the Haslam football fields. There are currently one and half outdoor practice football fields. Irvin explained that having so few fields makes organizing practice difficult. He further explained that UT was lacking in this area, stating that Vanderbilt had seven practice football fields. Overall this will be a $10 million project.
The second part of the project is the building of the parking garage on Volunteer Boulevard. Roughly, it will have 1,050 spaces. Irvin hopes that this project will be completed late 2015. The parking will be a combination of resident hall, faculty/staff, and commuter parking. This project will be $25 million.
On the east side of the site will be the place of the newest resident hall. The hall will be similar to Volunteer Hall with roughly 600 beds. The hall will house 49% athletes and 51% non-athletes. It is expected by summer 2016.
This hall will also include a dining facility. The dining facility will be similar to presidential, but upgraded. For instance this dining facility would have cooking stations where fresh food would be prepared in front of students. This will also give students more options and flexibility, depending on what students want. The estimated cost of this overall project is $64.3 million.
“What’s incredibly exciting about UT is UT isn’t just talk and UT is taking significant action,” stated Irvin. He added that UT is investing a lot of money in construction on campus. “It’s unprecedented in the history of this place and you can count on a couple of fingers the number of campuses in the country that are making that kind of change and commitment to their students. That’s exciting to be here when all that’s happening.”
Undoubtedly this construction is going to affect the flow of traffic on campus. “I’d be lying if I didn’t say there would be some growing pains.” Irvin said. He added that his department is trying to add to the cone zone website. Facilities services is working to get traffic information to students through Facebook and Twitter.
Edited by Zach Dennis
Edited by Zach Dennis