Facility to Complement the Site’s Woodland Setting

Proposed design of UT Arboretum's auditorium

Construction on the new auditorium for the University of Tennessee Arboretum in Oak Ridge is now underway. The building's open design, wooden beams and stone fireplace will complement the site's woodland setting (see rendering). The building is expected to be completed in June 2015. Download image. Download additional view.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Visitors to the University of Tennessee Arboretum in the coming weeks and months    including those planning to stop by for the Saturday, October 11 plant sale or the October 15 Woods and Wildlife Field Day – may catch a glimpse of something more than trees.  Construction supplies, equipment and heavy machinery are in evidence as the facility begins construction on its long anticipated auditorium.

The auditorium will be the newest addition to the UT Arboretum site, says Kevin Hoyt, director of the UT Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center and UT Arboretum. “It is designed to complement the existing outdoor pavilion, but will be a stand-alone facility capable of accommodating gatherings of up to 120 people.”

Hoyt went on to describe the facility as a good fit for the arboretum’s environment. “We’re really excited about the design,” he said. “Aesthetically, it’s an indoor space with outdoor ambitions.” 

The 2,400+ square foot facility will have large windows that overlook the arboretum’s hardwood forest, and the design includes a unique two-sided stone fireplace that can add ambiance to events that spill over from the indoor space to a large outside patio.

Of particular interest to many arboretum visitors will be the addition of restroom facilities. Previously no public restrooms have been available on the arboretum grounds.

Paid for with a combination of private donations and existing university facility funds, the auditorium is expected to be completed by June 2015. Construction begins as the Forest Resources Center and Arboretum celebrate 50 years of service to Tennessee forest landowners, the forest industry and the community at large.

Hoyt recently thanked the members of the UT Arboretum Society for their support of the facility. In a letter published in their newsletter last summer he wrote of the
lasting legacy the building will provide the community, noting that the auditorium will help the research and education center “launch innovative education programs” among its many functions.

The Forest Resources Center includes some 11,500 acres of forested lands in Oak Ridge, Morgan and Scott counties, and Tullahoma. The arboretum, which is open to the public for recreation and educational activities, comprises 250 of those acres. For more information about the research activities or the Arboretum and its plant collections and hiking trails, please visit the center’s website.

Although the construction phase may prove a bit noisy and messy, Hoyt assures the public that the serenity of the Arboretum will be restored as soon as possible.

In addition to its 10 AgResearch centers throughout the state, the UT Institute of Agriculture provides teaching, research and outreach through the colleges of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and Veterinary Medicine and UT Extension with offices in every Tennessee county.



Dr. Kevin Hoyt, Director, Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center, 865-484-0034,