The University of Tennessee


Knoxville, TN


Experiential Design and Wayfinding, Landscape Architecture, Planning

In order to position itself as one of the world’s most dynamic campuses for collaborative research and support economic development in Tennessee, the University of Tennessee (UT) wanted to establish a state-of-the-art science and technology research campus focused on solving problems of national significance. Located in Knoxville, Tennessee, the 188-acre Cherokee Farm Campus lies across the Tennessee River from the University system’s flagship campus in downtown Knoxville.

acre site
developed acres
square feet
a park with stairs and trees by a river

Gathering Insights

Gresham Smith was initially tasked with providing an infrastructure design that would support a world-class research campus. During the data collection and investigation phases, it became evident that a master plan was needed. Gresham Smith partnered with the UT Division of Facilities Planning to develop the goals, objectives and plan for the campus, working closely with the University community and the public throughout the planning process. Master planning efforts focused on establishing a module, the quads, which can be replicated over time. Consistent with the emphasis on innovation, the University is committed to developing Cherokee Farm sustainably.

a sign on a hill

Guiding the Way

Gresham Smith also provided environmental graphics design services including the planning, design and documentation of visual identity elements, identification and wayfinding signage and interpretive graphics for the campus. Final designs for the sign family were documented in a standards package to serve as a guide for ongoing development of the campus. Additionally, Gresham Smith’s Environmental Graphics Group assisted with the research and development of options for street names throughout the site.

a landscape with a stone path and a field with trees and buildings

A Massive Master Plan

The resulting master plan includes sites for 16 buildings and approximately 1.6 million square feet of development on 77 of the 188 acres. Sustainable planning and design strategies drive both the master plan and accompanying development guidelines. The orientation of the buildings supports passive and active solar collection, and the quads and surface parking lots can serve as geothermal fields. The development guidelines call for the use of green roofs, recycled materials, daylighting, green stormwater management and photovoltaic systems. At build-out, Cherokee Farm will reflect the innovative mission and collaborative spirit of the campus through a rich combination of public and private spaces.