John Shearer: New UTK Buildings Welcome Students

Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - by John Shearer

As University of Tennessee at Knoxville students from Chattanooga return for the start of classes on Wednesday, Aug. 22, they and UT football fans who later come to games will find that the campus has continued to evolve.
The large Ken and Blaire Mossman Building on Cumberland Avenue across from Ayres Hall is about completed and is now open, although plenty of finishing touches still remain, a check of it on Monday revealed.


The building – constructed next to Hoskins Library where some old homes stood -- is housing departments related to microbiology, biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology, psychology, and nutrition, along with lab space and classrooms.


A peak at the building in person revealed that the outside has the Collegiate Gothic-inspired brick look – with some modern adornments and amenities. And like some of the other recent buildings, it also has some UT-specific features, including checkerboard accents.


The inside also follows other recent buildings in that it seems to have decorations and furniture very much inspired by mid-century modern architecture. Examples of this include the chairs sitting under tables in the lobby and a wall treatment of multi-colored orange squares.


Outside is a timeless plaza for lounging and enjoying the contrast between the new Mossman Building and the old Hoskins Library on the west side. The area appears to be calling for people to sit outside with a cup of coffee and pretend they are at a European cafe.

The second phase of the Student Union a short distance west and across Cumberland Avenue is also nearing completion. While the first phase opened in 2015 where an old parking garage stood, the adjoining second phase on the grounds of the razed University Center will be even bigger.
When completed and opened by next semester, it will feature an auditorium and performance venue, a ballroom, additional dining areas, a student recreation area and various other student service spaces.
The building, which on the outside already appears to be mostly finished except for landscaping, features an Ayres Hall-inspired tower in the center facing Cumberland Avenue.

Also noticeably under construction is a West Campus housing complex where some of the Presidential Court dorms were and a new Lake Avenue parking garage a block south of the Strip/Cumberland Avenue.


The old is also in the news regarding the campus, as over the summer UT had to say goodbye to an old brick and mortar friend – Estabrook Hall. The more-than-100-year-old building by Neyland Stadium was torn down along with some other small buildings to make way for a now-under-construction building being called the Engineering Services Facility.


Some Volunteer Boulevard streetscaping work – including the placement of some road tiles along Pedestrian Walkway and in front of Hodges Library – is also being done and appears to be making the campus more visually appealing.


And UT tailgaters will be glad to know some of the more natural parts of the campus – such as Circle Park and the open area by the Humanities Plaza – currently feature grass as plush as that found on exclusive country clubs.


The grass looks in perfect condition now, but no telling how it might look after a few weeks of students walking to classes and a few home football games featuring pregame activities at those locations.

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