University of Tennessee at Knoxville RecSports Fields at Sutherland Avenue


The Challenge

Barge was selected for the design of a large intramural field complex at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK). This project included the demolition of the married student housing complex: a set of 1960s apartments which originally filled the 38-acre site along Sutherland Avenue. Demolition of the 50+ apartment buildings occurred in 2011.

The site is flanked by residential areas on two sides. This posed dual challenges of coordinating construction in a way that minimized both campus and neighborhood interruptions, as well as designing a final product that would not interfere with the flow on campus or adversely affect the surrounding homes. The site is in proximity to Knoxville’s Third Creek, also requiring special consideration.

The Solution

Barge designed eight large, lighted multi-purpose sports fields; two dedicated, lighted softball fields; two softball field "overlays" on the natural turf multi-purpose fields; a central administration and restroom building; a large pavilion; and a maintenance building.

The central building houses restrooms, an office, a training room, mechanical/electrical rooms, storage, and a room for students to check out equipment. The maintenance building has an office, restroom, and storage/shop space for maintenance equipment. Additionally, the complex includes a fenced outdoor storage area for various sporting equipment.

Four of the multi-purpose fields are synthetic turf, comprising one of the largest synthetic turf installations in Tennessee at the time of completion. The remaining four multi-purpose fields contain a “Cambridge” underground drainage system. This system allows fields to be playable quickly after a rain and limits damage to fields when wet. It involves a herringbone pattern of 15-inch-deep trenches spaced 15 feet apart with a pipe at the bottom, then stone, then sand at the surface. Water filters through the layers and is collected in the pipes, then flows to an irrigation water storage pond where it’s pumped back to irrigate the fields.

Barge coordinated with the City of Knoxville for the relocation of the existing drainage features across the site. Our team also prepared SWPPP and erosion control plans alongside TDEC NOI for the site demolition and the field construction. 

The Results

This collection of intramural fields now serves as the primary location for outdoor intramural activities at UTK, providing space for soccer, flag football, and lacrosse, and accommodating softball on overlays. Since the facility is a few miles from UTK’s main campus, students can access the site from campus via the Third Creek Greenway trail or by KTrans bus. The $10.94 million sports complex has many sustainable design features, such as LED site lighting, landscaping with native species, and bio-swales which treat stormwater from adjacent parking lots and drains the runoff into a pond, which is also fed by a well. The pond is the source for irrigation of the sports fields.

Musco Light Structure Green sports field lighting technology is installed for use on the fields. This lighting is expected to save 30% in energy costs over traditional systems, as well as reduce light trespass from the fields to almost zero – a key feature for the adjacent neighborhoods. The complex has a sophisticated video monitoring system that provides 24-hour surveillance and a lightning detection system to warn of approaching inclement weather.

Additionally, Barge provided landscape architecture for streetscaping along Sutherland Avenue. This included preparing landscape plans for transplanted trees – successfully preserving several large trees – to enhance the sidewalks and buffer the intramural field complex from the nearby streets. These efforts provided better pedestrian access and an enhanced experience along Sutherland Avenue.

The project received the award for Outstanding Sports Facility by the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association.

The Barge Factor

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