10 Things to Know About the New Student Union

The first phase of the new Student Union opened its doors on June 1, and it’s going to make you wish you could be a student at UT once again. Here are some interesting facts about the new “heart” of campus.

  1. Construction began on the first phase of building in 2012, and the second phase is scheduled for completion in three years. When both phases are complete, the new Student Union will represent the single largest construction project in UT’s history
  2. There will certainly be plenty of good things to eat, with six dining options in phase one—Chick-fil-A, Qdoba, Salad Creations, AFC Sushi, Starbucks, and Subway. Two more options will open with the second phase, bringing the total number of dining seats up to 1,000. That’s more than double the number of seats in the University Center.3M1A1016
  3. Once completed, the entire building will be roughly twice the size of the University Center. The second phase will include a 1,000-seat auditorium and a 12,000-square-foot ballroom.
  4. An impressive glass and terrazzo staircase links four floors of the building, and there are plenty of orange highlights to be found in everything from seats to lighting fixtures. Alumni accomplishments, campus icons, and points of interest will be displayed through large-scale graphics and an artistic mural to be installed this summer.
  5. The new VolShop is 14,500 square feet and offers more than twice the amount of apparel than in its previous space. VolTech, an Apple authorized campus store, is twice the size of its prior location. VolBooks has expanded its space to offer the latest course materials, e-books, books, and class supplies.3M1A1011
  6. Green building features include a lighting system that adjusts to make best use of natural daylight to save on energy costs. All new UT buildings are built to meet LEED standards.3M1A0995
  7. The outside around the building was spruced up, too. Blueberry Falls, a water feature near Claxton Education building, was extended toward Philip Fulmer Way. A new pedestrian bridge now connects Pedestrian Walkway to the Hill, running through the new outdoor plaza and courtyard.
  8. The Alan and Wendy Wilson Center for Career Development suite now occupies the entire fifth floor of the building. The space includes offices for twenty-two staff members and ten student peer career advisors, fifteen interview rooms, an employer greeting room, and three video practice interview rooms. The floor also features two classrooms for workshops and other general functions.
  9. The building’s architectural features tie back to other buildings on campus with limestone cornices and copings, clay-tiled gable roofing, and copper guttering.
  10. Looking for a great view of Neyland Stadium? There’s an outstanding view from nearly every window in the building’s first phase.

Find out more about the new Student Union and other ongoing campus projects at Cone Zone.

Would you like to see your name in the new Student Union? Learn how you can support UT through recognition opportunities by contacting the Office of Development at 865-974-2115.


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Marise Fallon June 16, 2015 - 5:00 pm

This looks fabulous! I do wish I was going to UT now!

Patsy Newman June 17, 2015 - 7:47 pm

Me too!

Rob June 16, 2015 - 5:06 pm

Poorly designed (ugly) buildings in regressive architectural styles are no way to bring us into the Top 25 Public Universities. We can do better.

David-Michael Rengh August 24, 2017 - 10:51 pm

Coming from Central California where everything is modern and ugly UT is a refreshing breathe of air just like Tennessee.

Roger Rhodes - BM 1964 June 16, 2015 - 5:13 pm

I remember when the previous Student Center was built on Cumberland Avenue between 15th & 16th Streets where some tennis courts had been. It was over 60 years ago –seems like only yesterday!

Tom Foley June 16, 2015 - 6:25 pm

I need to schedule a return to UT to check out the new Student Union. It looks and sounds great. Congratulations to everyone involved in its’ construction.

terry ketron June 17, 2015 - 2:30 am


Katie Billings January 10, 2019 - 10:34 am

Yes, every time I hear student union I’m confused. So used to thinking of it as the university center.

Keith Mickler June 17, 2015 - 10:08 am

My family and I were on campus for our son’s participation in football camp in June. I had some time to explore the campus and was absolutely amazed just from the beauty of the landscape outside the student center. The running creek with waterfalls are fabulous.

A very proud University of Tennessee Alumni (UTK 90 & 94.)

I said “It’s Great to be a Tennessee Vol!!!”

Danny June 17, 2015 - 1:19 pm

I think its a great building and adds to the beauty of the UT campus. If we could just get rid of the hideous SPAM CAN!!

Deez Nutz June 17, 2015 - 7:09 pm


Phil June 17, 2015 - 7:20 pm

Long overdue. The UC was outdated when I was there and that was in the mid 80s.

Now if UT could just remove McClung tower from existence they might have a shot at a decent-looking campus.

MJ June 17, 2015 - 11:19 pm

So no thank you to all of the former student’s who’s tuition went to this building and won’t get to use it? Thanks

Stuart Fynboe June 19, 2015 - 3:16 pm

We’re looking forward to seeing this project and all of the construction going on about the Campus. And while change is at times hard to accept, it is great to see the campus grow!

houshang daryabeigi June 21, 2015 - 5:07 am

As far as landscape is concerned there should be a harmony between buildings which has been constructed before and the newly erected one. The facet of the new student union matches the other buildings in the campus. It looks great . Congratulation to all of those who designed and constructed the building.

Julie Beeler June 26, 2015 - 9:11 pm

Even though I’m a traditionalist and loved the feel of the old University Center (and all the memories attached to it), it was time for an update. The new Student Union is stunning and a fantastic addition to campus. I’m excited for all parts to be fully ready, with pictures, art, and such. The landscaping with waterfalls and steps are beautiful and make walking from Lot 9 to Volunteer tons easier.

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