Plans for what is being called the Quad at East Tennessee State University have been finalized and work is under way to establish this pedestrian commons area, which will be the only dedicated green space on campus.
Work officially began Dec. 16 with the moving of the conifer garden where the Quad will be located, which is right in the middle of campus and bordered by Brooks Gym, the Campus Center Building, and Gilbreath, Ball and Sam Wilson halls.
It took about two weeks to move the conifer garden, which consists of more than 100 conifers of varying species, to the east side of the Mountain States Health Alliance Athletic Center, also known as the Mini Dome.
The whole project is budgeted for $1 million. This money comes from reserve funds in the ETSU budget.
Work actually began on the area in June when the parking spaces and road that wound through there was closed to traffic. The parking spaces were removed, and this action cut off traffic flow through campus.
Beginning in February, the campus veterans memorial, which was surrounded by the conifer garden, will be relocated to the east side of Gilbreath Hall. It is currently closer to Brooks Gym, which is where the school’s Army ROTC program is housed.
“The (Quad) plan had been part of the campus master plan for maybe 20 years in some form or the other,” said Bill Rasnick, ETSU associate vice president of facilities.
ETSU President Brian Noland made establishing a campus green space a priority when he became president in January 2011.
This green space included on the master plan did not have a lot of detail. Rasnick said input was taken from various academic departments located near the Quad, as well as people associated with the conifer garden and the veterans memorial to develop the final plan.
Johnson Architecture out of Knoxville crafted a rendering of the Quad. The construction firm that will actually create the Quad has not yet been selected because the job has not gone out for bid yet.
By the first of February Rasnick hopes to have a contract in place to move the veterans memorial. That portion of the budget should cost about $100,000 and should be completed by April. Quad construction should begin in May after the spring semester ends. The anticipated completion date is August.
All the buildings bordering the new Quad area will receive new entrances, largely to address the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“This was an opportunity to upgrade and tie up the whole thing together,” Rasnick said. “You might could have done it without completely redoing the entrances but I think it would kind have been disjointed, had you done that.”
The new Quad will also tie in the new parking garage being built on the west end of campus. That structure is scheduled to be finished this summer around the same time as the Quad.
Part of the plan for the parking garage calls for closing John Robert Bell Drive to traffic. Drivers would be allowed access to the garage from this road but not onto campus. Pedestrians, though, would be able to easily navigate from the garage to this road to the Quad to class on the other end of campus without ever having crossed traffic on foot.
“We’ve created a pedestrian access from west going east,” Rasnick said. “And so that’s what I think, is that we really created a pedestrian-friendly walkway from west to east. And that green space, Quad area, was the cornerstone of all that.”
Rasnick said the Quad area is intended to be a pleasant place to walk and congregate.
“It’s for people to spend time,” he said. “It’s going to have a lot of outdoor amenities and certainly it’s student-oriented.”
For more information on the campus Quad, visit etsu.edu/greenspace.