Construction crews on the University of Tennessee (UT) campus are working on a series of projects that will provide state-of-the-art technology, ease undergraduate housing woes and deliver a comprehensive football training center.
“We currently have more than $500 million in major capital projects underway,” explained Chris Cimino, UT’s Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration. “Projects include a new engineering building to help accommodate one of our fastest-growing majors, a new Student Union to replace a dated facility we’ve outgrown and a new large animal clinic for our College of Veterinary Medicine. These much-needed facilities will provide state-of-the-art learning environments to students for many years to come.”
The University of Tennessee, one of the oldest public universities in the country, underwent a major expansion in 1904, with the creation of UT’s colleges of law and medicine in Knoxville, and the college of dentistry in Memphis. President Brown Ayres also approved a stand-alone library. The campus, which once served as a Civil War battleground, is once again experiencing dramatic change, as school officials look to the future.
The John Tickle Engineering Building, one of many projects currently under construction, is a $23.1-million, five-story, 110,000-sq.-ft. (10,219 sq m) building that will contain laboratory space, classrooms and offices for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Industrial and Information Engineering.
It will anchor a new gateway to the UT campus and serve as a link between Neyland Drive and the Hill. Construction began in summer 2011 and is expected to wrap up in the spring of 2014.
According to Eric Erfman, project manager of general contractor Messer Construction, multiple types of equipment were used on the project, which also called for masonry, aluminum curtain walls, metal panels, concrete, drywall and metal studs.
“The building site is compact,” Erfman explained. “The lay down area, or space around the building, proved challenging.”
Erfman explained that masonry and concrete tasks have proved the most time consuming, adding that weather delayed the project by one month. Messer crews began work in July 2011 and are expected on the job until May 2013.
The renovation and expansion of the Equine and Farm Animal Hospitals at the University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center also is underway. The roughly $21 million project encompasses approximately 85,000 sq. ft. (7,896 sq m), with an expected completion date of February 2013.
Planned to meet the needs of animal industries throughout the Southeast, the expansion will reportedly help protect the food supply while providing the most advanced technologies and medical therapies available. In addition, officials say it will meet all the medical needs of equine owners and industries in one location, eliminating the need to trailer horses out of state, and help provide a solid teaching program for veterinary students.
The new equine space will include a permanent MRI unit and expanded surgical and isolation space. The new farm animal hospital will include standing and recumbent farm animal surgery suites and a secure off-loading facility. A separate 32,000 sq. ft. (2,972 sq m) facility will house our new equine orthopedic diagnostic center, allowing trained officials to provide the most current equine diagnostics, treatment and rehabilitative therapies.
The project started in May 2011. According to Doug Kennedy, CEO of general contractor Johnson & Galyon Inc. of Knoxville, Tenn., one of the main obstacles was keeping the existing hospital functioning.
“A good portion of our work is located adjacent to the existing facility so we keep in close contact with the hospital to schedule our work and keep disruptions down to a bare minimum. Entrance to the facility also is impacted by our work so we coordinated and built temporary access for their customers.
The Vet Med Center offers Equineciser by Centaur, a custom built circular mechanical horse exerciser used for conditioning with variable speed controls. The Equineciser horse walker allows the horse to exercise untethered between moving gates, so he can move in a more natural manner, with his head free. MRI and CT Scan equipment also has been installed, along with multiple monorails with electric hoists.
“The project is a concrete, steel and CMU structure,” Kennedy explained. “The project is built with durability — a necessity in the treatment of large animals. Exterior finishes will coordinate with the existing facility, which is primarily brick.”
Kennedy noted the amount of construction the University of Tennessee has completed during the last five years, enabled several local general contractors and subcontractors to survive the prolonged construction recession. In fact, dramatic improvements to the Knoxville campus will continue throughout the next year, courtesy of $11 million from the state for capital maintenance projects, storm insurance settlements, and $12.5 million in campus funds.
In addition to the chancellor designating funds to accelerate plans for needed repairs to campus buildings, state funds will help the school deal with additional deferred maintenance needs, repairs and renovations. Officials say $16.5 million will be spent on more than 100 roof projects. Roofs will be repaired or replaced at South College, the Biosystems Engineering and Environmental Sciences Building, Andy Holt Tower, the Ceramics Annex and the Kingston Pike Building.
Approximately $3 million will be dedicated to masonry repairs, involving brick and structural cement which needs to be repaired or replaced on almost a dozen buildings. The work will help prevent possible problems that occurred with McClung Tower, where concrete sections broke off the building. Exterior repair work was performed on the four corners of McClung Tower. A large section of concrete had separated from the bottom of McClung Tower’s second floor, on the west side of the building. The project involved installing control joints within the brick that allow it to expand and contract without affecting other sections of the structure.
Another $4 million is targeted for the campus electrical infrastructure through upgrades to the main substation and replacement of the old underground distribution. These upgrades will ensure more reliability and provide the additional power required for new construction coming on line.
A number of other school-funded projects have kept UT construction teams busy. The Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) building renovation is set to reopen in the next month or so. The addition of two food vendors and the outdoor seating plaza on the east side of HSS will be completed by early fall.
A major upgrade to Hodge’s Library Commons also is reportedly on schedule and should be completed by September. The Commons at the library, on the second floor , features the latest technology, group study areas and round-the-clock hours. Library patrons also will be able to enjoy an updated facility that provides more natural light and new technology-enabled collaborative work spaces. The research assistance desk will relocate to an area just inside the main entrance to the library. The construction is the final phase of an upgrade that began in 2004. Renovations included knocking down walls to connect The Studio media area to the main study area.
The state budget for fiscal year 2012-13 also included $94 million in state capital funds for renovation and expansion of Strong Hall, which calls for more classrooms and labs. Also being constructed on the UT campus are a Science Laboratory Facility, a new academic building at Melrose Hall for academic and instructional support space and a new residence hall for upper-division students. In addition to the renovation of the panhellenic building, crews are working to complete a football training center that’s being described as one of the most modern and functional buildings of its kind.
The more than $40 million, 145,000-sq. ft. (13,470 sq m) structure includes an amphitheater-style team room, coaches’ offices; meeting rooms; dining hall; players’ lounge; a 7,000-sq. ft. (650 sq m) locker room; a 22,000-sq. ft. (2,043 sq m), multi-level weight room that includes a mixed martial arts fighting cage, along with a new training room, hydrotherapy area and an updated football hall of fame section.
“Everyone involved with the program is very excited about this new center” said UT Associate Athletic Director for Communications Jimmy Stanton. “When it opens this fall it will be the best facility of its kind in college football. The technology being used throughout is state-of-the-art. The players, coaches and staff are fired up to actually move in to the training center. There’s no question about that.”
The new training center will feature a video delivery system for players and coaches. The locker room offers custom-built, ventilated lockers with electrical outlets for charging cell phones and laptops. Once work is complete, the existing football space in the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center will be updated to meet the needs of more than a hundred athletic department employees currently housed in the Stokely Athletics Center, which will be demolished. Everyone must be out of Stokely by the end of December.
A $160 million Student Union is another major construction venture, and will replace the current University Center, which was built in the mid 1950s and updated in the late 1960s. The project is funded through existing student and user fees, and the facility will be at least 50 percent larger than the existing structure.
The new Student Union will offer many more dining choices and an expanded book and technology store. The facility is being designed and constructed for LEED building standards. It calls for a 10,000-sq.-ft. (929 sq m), 1,000-seat auditorium, a 12,000-sq.-ft. (1,115 sq m) ballroom, Student Government Association office space and extra space for other student groups.
By the fall of 2014, the school also will have its first new residence hall in four decades. Being built on Andy Holt Avenue on the corner of Melrose Avenue, it will be home to 700 undergraduates, male and female, and will feature two-person suites and four-person super suites.
The suites are double occupancy rooms with a shared bathroom. The small bathroom is equipped with a single shower and toilet. The hall will offer more community space than existing halls, and will include student study lounges. Wireless internet also will be available. Laundry rooms, recreation and fitness rooms are included in the plans, which include two restaurants, with indoor and outdoor seating.
Cost of constructing the new residence hall is roughly $59 million dollars, and is being financed through student rental fees and the sale of revenue bonds as approved through the state building commission. The school has also updated its housing facilities by acquiring Volunteer Hall, renovating other halls and phasing out its oldest halls.
Also under construction on the UT campus is the Natalie L. Haslam Music Center, a new, technology-enhanced building for the UT School of Music. The four-floor building was named for Natalie Haslam, a graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences and a music and arts supporter. The facility, built in the 1960s, was demolished to prepare for construction of the new structure, which will be completed in late 2013. The state of Tennessee allocated $30 million for the building several years ago.
It will include a new recital hall, music library, band room and office suite, computer labs, a recording studio, 40 performance studios/offices and a variety of technology-enhanced practice and rehearsal rooms, including space for the UT Band, the UT Opera Theatre, the UT Symphony Orchestra and the choral program. Music faculty members will have offices in the same building. The new music building was designed by Associated Music Center Architects, a joint venture between BarberMcMurry architects and Blankenship & Partners.
According to Johnson & Galyon’s Doug Kennedy, “The UT Music Center project is a new 122,000-square- foot facility. The frame of the building is primarily a cast in place concrete structure. The exterior façade is a combination of brick, limestone, metal panels, and curtain wall. Due to the complexity of the combination of exterior finishes, the project required use of three cranes.
“To ensure proper productivity and workflow,” Kennedy pointed out, “one was used for concrete form work, one for steel erection and one for placement of precast double tees. The cranes for the concrete formwork and the precast double tees were Manitowoc cranes. One of the biggest challenges was coordinating the logistics of the three cranes, as well as lifts for the four other trades on the exterior of the building on a very confined site in the middle of the campus.”
The University of Tennessee’s Sorority Village on Morgan Hill also is under construction, and will open its first set of houses during the fall semester. Seven houses are expected to be completed, with about 270 women living in the development by the end of the semester. Sorority Village will have 13 houses and one administrative building once completed next year. The university is funding a portion of the facility for its administrative offices and meeting space.
In the planning stages for more than half a decade, work began on the Sorority Village infrastructure in the fall of 2009. The development will be fenced and will be equipped with modern security features, including gated access, blue light emergency phones and security cameras. Chapters are funding their houses in full through private donations and mortgage agreements that will be paid through rent and chapter fees. Once construction is complete, the total private investment in Sorority Village is expected to exceed $45 million.
Although there are a number of projects already completed on campus, such as the Student Health Clinic, the Min Kao Engineering Building, the Ayres Hall restoration and the Haslam Business Building, the UT makeover is far from complete. The various expansions and renovations have limited pedestrian access routes and caused traffic headaches, but school officials say the end result will make up for any inconveniences. They also say the projects have been a long time coming, in many instances.
Said Cimino, “Thanks to funding from the state and private donors, we’ve been able to embark on several construction projects that have been on the drawing table for several years.”