The familiar warning beepbeepbeep of moving machinery pierces the air. Two construction workers stand on a railed platform as the beeping crane slowly lifts them up.
It finally stops about seven stories high, and the two men start attaching stainless-steel panels to the façade of the West Campus Housing, the new residence hall that will open for fall semester.
Copious amounts of rain over the past few months have kept crews from finishing work on the outside of the building, says Jeremy Busby of Hoar Construction, superintendent of construction work on West Campus. Even so, he says, they are about three months ahead of schedule and the building will definitely open on time.
When completed, West Campus will be about 231,000 square feet. “It’s a huge, huge building,” Busby says.
At this point, the 600-bed hall still has a good bit of work remaining both inside and out. Trees have been planted in the massive courtyard that faces East Third Street, but layers of foam and concrete and paving blocks still must be laid.
The lobby, which will contain a Barnes & Noble bookstore and food operations including Einstein Bagels, is a work in progress with some ceilings, flooring and wiring still being installed.
Several of the residence floors in the building’s two wings are nearing completion, though, with furniture being one of the few missing elements in the rooms. Most suites have two bedrooms, each with two beds and two bathrooms and showers. There are Ethernet and cable TV connections as well as Wi-Fi.
On each corner of the building are the so-called “Lanterns,” common areas with 10-foot windows on two sides. Depending on which floor you’re on, the Lanterns provide a commanding view of Lookout, Raccoon and Signal Mountains or the buildings of downtown Chattanooga or the UTC campus.
The residence hall also will have a fully-functional Post Office, a massive laundry room and a kitchen for those rare times when students want to cook. Two levels of parking are underneath the building.
On the outside, West Campus’ stainless-steel panels and walls of windows are familiar and they’re meant to be. Architects DH&W designed West Campus to match the UTC Library and Aquatic Recreation Center, which the firm also designed.
Between West Campus Housing and McKenzie Arena, six new tennis courts—painted bright blue with golden Power C’s coming soon—and a tennis center with locker rooms are nearing completion. The tennis complex will be open to all UTC students, faculty and staff.