Excitement is growing in the college about the construction of the new Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering building. Groundbreaking is currently slated to take place in March of 2007.
The building was initially funded by a $12.5 million donation from alumnus Dr. Min Kao, CEO of Garmin Ltd, one of the world's largest manufacturers of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) products. Kao's total donation of $17.5 million included $5 million designated for a dollar-for-dollar fund-raising initiative designed to create a $10 million endowment for the ECE Department.
Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and the state Legislature provided an additional $25 million in matching funds for the facility, bringing the building project to a total of $37.5 million for the 150,000 square foot facility.
“We are coming along very well with our plans for the building,” said Dr. Wayne Davis, COE associate dean for research and technology. “The architectural design will be completed in early 2007, after which the university will seek and award a contract with a construction firm. After the groundbreaking, we anticipate the actual construction of the building will take about two and a half years, with completion in August of 2009.” The building has been sited on the east side of campus known as “The Hill,” on Estabrook Drive between the Dougherty Engineering Building and Cumberland Avenue, directly across the street from the 11th Street Parking Garage.
The two architectural firms working on the project, Bullock Smith and Partners and Lindsay and Maples Architect, working closely with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, have created a preliminary plan for the six-floor building that includes a soaring atrium, a classroom annex, a 2,500 square foot auditorium and a spacious deck with a magnificent view of downtown Knoxville.
The building will also overlook a City of Knoxville-owned greenway, which is currently receiving an extensive landscaping upgrade. The majority of ECE classrooms, laboratories, offices and a 7,000 sq. ft. clean room will be housed in the new building.