UT plans its most ‘expansive and expensive’ building project

The University of Tennessee plans to replace six residence halls over the next five years — a $234 million multi-phase project that officials say is the most expansive and expensive in school history.

From the News Sentinel:
The new dormitories, all surrounding Presidential Court, make up the most recent piece of a roughly $1 billion campus overhaul that also includes a new student union, several new academic buildings, a parking garage, and two additional residence halls among other improvements.

While the five-year timeline is aggressive, the new dorms and other facilities are a key piece in the university’s plan to improve student retention rates, said Dave Irvin, associate vice chancellor for facilities services.

“We know this project will make such a significant difference in the lives of our students and their success,” Irvin said. “So we could delay it and do it over a 10-year time frame, but I think that will be grossly unfair to those students we have here in years five through 10. I think we owe it to our students to be aggressive, to seize the moment and jump in with both feet.”

The six new dormitories are in addition to the Fred Brown Residence Hall opening next fall and the plan to replace Gibbs Hall that was announced in September. While making plans for Brown and Gibbs halls, school officials looked at renovating the 1960s-era high-rise buildings around Presidential Court, but found it more cost-effective to replace them with new three- and four-story residence halls, Irvin said.