University of Tennessee Neyland Stadium
This popular entrance to the country’s 3rd largest sports stadium is visited by countless fans on game days and is a hub for campus transit and everyday student life. Over time, the site of Gate 21 at Neyland Stadium had matured into a worn, confusing space where the quality of daily student life became secondary to the functional needs surrounding the programming and activity of seven home football games each year. Pedestrian routes through the site became circuitous and marginalized by the competing loading, staging and parking of vehicles. Areas for congregating did not exist for those attending nearby classes and events most of the year, and on game day, patrons found the space severely overcrowded and unsafe. Gate 21 was entirely a pass-through space incapable of carrying the capacity it needed and lacking the sense of place and identity it deserved as a campus landmark.
As subconsultants to McCarty Holsaple McCarty, CRJA-IBI Group’s Knoxville office collaborated with design team members and project stakeholders to conceptualize a new plaza and amphitheater outside Gate 21. The design of these two spaces successfully balances the activities of tens of thousands of game-day patrons with the needs and comfort of daily student life, including dozens of bus transfers each day.
From initial site programming to final construction documentation, CRJA-IBI Group also found ways to embrace innovative technologies that would help the larger campus objective of developing sustainable sites. For example, in order to promote a healthy viable tree canopy of shade for the plaza over time, large volumes of planting soil were contained in structural cells that also support the pavement and vehicular loading above. To improve the quality of run-off exiting the site, permeable pavement was also installed in intercepting bands to slow and cool stormwater, while reducing the pollutants typically found in total suspended solids.