- Associated Press - Saturday, June 6, 2015

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is undergoing a massive $1 billion makeover that has about one-fourth of its footprint under construction.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/1Grk4mX) decades-old landmarks are being demolished or renovated to create new classrooms, research labs, and residential and community spaces.

Andy Powers is the director of design services. He said none of the new buildings will look alike, but they will have a similar style. That includes brick and limestone facades, arches, and steeply pitched roofs with clay tile.

“If you walk across this campus, you can see a lot of disparate types of architecture, and I think the chancellor really has a vision of just making the campus sort of cohesive,” he said.

Plans also include moving vehicular traffic and parking to the edges of campus to make way for pedestrians and bicycles. The university is continuing to take over and close some city streets that run through the campus.

Officials say the improvements are needed to help the university reach its goal of becoming a Top 25 public research institution. Academic and lab space needs to increase by 25 percent to meet current needs of the campus.

In January, work began on a $114 million, nine-story modern science class and laboratory facility that will house the anthropology and earth and planetary sciences departments. Another 222,000-square-foot classroom and lab facility is planned for down the street.

The school recently opened its first new residence hall in 43 years, and others housing and dining facilities are either planned or under construction - something officials say will help recruit and retain the best students.

“I do think if you’re a student here now, your impression of UT when you graduate in four years might be this sort of loud, dusty place,” Powers said. “But when you come back in a few years, it will be a completely different feel.”

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Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com

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