Facility Focus: Outdoor Spaces

University of Tennessee: University Center Bridge

When the University of Tennessee in Knoxville (UT) began upgrades on the university center — including a new student union and outdoor plaza — it was vital that the space be aesthetically pleasing while addressing the stormwater drainage issues that had plagued the campus for decades. The new Student Union project is organized around major circulation routes into and through the campus.

University of Tennessee

Photos courtesy of Belgard

“Our campus is close to the Tennessee River, so we have to mitigate stormwater runoff before it gets to the river,” Dan Smith, P.E., project manager at UT told the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute. To accomplish this, the university and project team installed permeable pavers manufactured by Belgard.

The project, dubbed the University Center Bridge, features an eco-friendly, durable concrete paver that reduces water runoff. The Bridge connects the campus classrooms on “The Hill” with the library and UT’s Neyland Football Stadium, creating a picturesque scene.

University of Tennessee

Naturally, the new Student Union complex is a high-traffic area when class is in session and on game days, while also acting as a special events space for gatherings, including live broadcasts. The University Center Bridge creates a strong visual connection between the east and west sides of the campus, using a basket-weave paver pattern that blends design, craftmanship and functionality. In fact, the permeable surface of the new installation enabled the university’s compliance with local stormwater regulations.

University of Tennessee

Completed in 2017, McCarty Holsaple McCarty Architects & BarberMcMurry Architects teamed up on the design of the project. Rentenbach Constructors, Inc. was the general contractor, and Belgard Master Craftsman, Hickory Hardscapes completed the installation.

University of Tennessee

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2020 issue of Spaces4Learning.

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