Summary of Recommendations
The draft master plan for the Knoxville and Agriculture campuses is a conceptual document that—once finalized—will be a blueprint for future development.
The plan will help the university pursue its overall goals and make decisions on land usage, placement of buildings, and investments in infrastructure. The planning process identified significant needs for academic space on the Knoxville and Agriculture campuses. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s standard space formula confirmed deficits in classrooms and research and open laboratory space, based on our current population. Planning for the future must consider the university’s goals to attain Top 25 status. Growing research expenditures and graduate education programs are critical to moving UT up the list of public universities.
The Knoxville campus has the greatest deficiencies in general classroom, class lab, and research space. Overall academic and lab space would need to increase by 25 percent just to meet current needs of the campuses.
The near-term priorities are, therefore, centered on addressing those critical academic needs. The first project aimed at addressing academic space is the renovation and expansion of Strong Hall, a former residence hall. This building will be converted to much-needed classroom and class laboratory space. A new academic building will also replace Melrose Hall, along Andy Holt Avenue. The plan also calls for the addition of three classroom/laboratory buildings, with the first new building to be built along Cumberland Avenue and Thirteenth Street. This would begin the development of a science quad complex along White Avenue, bringing more core university functions to the north side of our institutional zone. The renovations and additions to Walters Life Sciences and Jessie Harris Building are also planned for the near term, along with a restoration of Hoskins Library.
The draft master plan incorporates recommendations from a recent housing master plan, including a new 700-bed residence hall with dining facility along Andy Holt Avenue. It also calls for renovations of seven of the twelve residence halls, all in the near term.
Mid-term plans call for the renovation and expansion of the College of Nursing and the addition of a new academic building adjacent to the Communications and University Extension building. The Hill will also see changes through a project to merge the Earth and Planetary Sciences and Nielsen buildings. The goal is to join the structures to create a modern science complex while preserving the collegiate gothic features of the buildings. The Clarence Brown Theatre and Ula Love Doughty Carousel Theatre will be renovated and expanded. A new academic building will be built on the Stokely Athletics site. Perkins Hall will be renovated and expanded and a new class lab building will be built on Cumberland Avenue and James Agee Street.
People and Bikes
Over time, the plan moves vehicular traffic and parking to the edges of campus so people and bicycles can move throughout the campus more easily. Creating the interconnected pedestrian pathways and moving primary traffic out of the center requires the phased closures of the rest of Andy Holt Avenue, part of Volunteer Boulevard, Melrose Avenue, and Temple Street.
The University Center near-term project will provide the opportunity to extend the Pedestrian Mall to the base of the Hill by converting Andy Holt Avenue to a pedestrian/bike path. A new pedestrian/bike bridge is proposed over Phillip Fulmer Way.
Phillip Fulmer Way will also be widened to a four-lane boulevard with bicycle lanes to accommodate the increase in vehicular traffic. Volunteer Boulevard would also be modified from four lanes to two lanes with an improved connection to Peyton Manning Pass and added bicycle lanes.
Campus bicyclists will be able to easily connect to the city’s well-established greenways. A bike path south of Neyland Stadium would connect Neyland Drive and Second Creek Greenway to the heart of campus.
As buildings are renovated and constructed and land is repurposed, the plan gradually turns UT’s grid-style campus layout to a pedestrian-centered layout. Enhancing the green spaces and improving navigation—along with improving its facilities—will make the campus look more traditional and more like the flagship research universities of our size and stature.
The best illustration of this can be seen in the Grand Mall conceptual drawing, which illustrates a plan for significant green space through the center of campus by extending Johnson Ward Pedestrian Mall, closing the remainder of Andy Holt Drive, and aligning new construction to create the natural borders.
The plan recommends enhancing the campus’s open spaces on the the Hill, Circle Park, Morgan Hall, and the plot and pasture land on the Agriculture campus. Small “pocket parks” will be added along Melrose Avenue and east of Hoskins Library. In the long term, the Agriculture campus would become itself a full trial garden, displaying various types of landscaping throughout its acreage.
Long-range plans also establish another quad courtyard through a renovation and expansion of Morgan Hall and link to the new Biotechnology Research Building.
Parking and Land Needs
Parking needs exist on both campuses. Expanding and enhancing the campus transit system will be critical to accomplishing the goals for a pedestrian-friendly campus.
The University Center garage is planned for Staff Lot 9, at the center of campus, but positioned to appropriately serve the expanded center.
A 1,700-space garage along Volunteer Boulevard is also planned for the near term. Long-term considerations call for a new facility on or near the lake area and the replacement of the Andy Holt Tower garage. The Agriculture campus can gain parking in the near term by creating surface lots but address long-term needs with a new 800-space garage.
The plan recommends that UT supplement the Knoxville campus’s 550 acres by purchasing properties within its institutional zone, with a particular focus on land near the Jessie Harris Building. If feasible, the university should acquire the CSX rail yard and the land for the Third Creek Sewer Plant if the city moves the facility as planned.