Renovation of UTHSC Historic Quadrangle Provides Stately Focal Point for Memphis Campus

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The newly renovated Historic Quadrangle is a fitting centerpiece for the Memphis campus. The construction on the project took three years to complete.

The newly renovated Historic Quadrangle on the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s Memphis campus stands on a foundation of more than bricks and mortar. It stands on the vision and perseverance of UTHSC’s Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operations Officer Ken Brown, JD, MPA, PhD, FACHE.

Dr. Brown, who has been at UTHSC more than 20 years, recalls the days he would walk legislators, local officials, the media, and anyone interested through the unused and decrepit Mooney Library Building, built in 1928, as well as the adjacent buildings that were in need of repair and updating. He was unwavering in his determination that restoring the buildings would provide not only much-needed office, classroom, and research space, but anchor the inner-city campus in a way it had not seen in decades.

Persistence paid off in the form of $70 million in state funds to renovate the quadrangle and four of the buildings that comprise it. Three years after the March 9, 2018 notice to proceed with the construction, UTHSC has a restored Historic Quadrangle that includes a new administration building in the Mooney Library, a new home for the College of Nursing in the Crowe Building, and almost 70,000 square feet of state-of-the-art wet lab research space in the Nash and Nash Annex Buildings.

“The revitalization of the Historic Quadrangle is of major significance to the Health Science Center campus for many reasons, the most noteworthy being this is where it all started,” Dr. Brown said. “This is the original footprint of where the University of Tennessee College of Medicine started over 100 years ago, the footprint that now serves as the nucleus to a thriving academic medical center comprised of nationally ranked programs. This has been a project that has been in the planning stages for the better part of the last 15 years, and seeing it materialize the way it has was well worth the wait.

“For the first time in its history, the College of Nursing has a true academic home in the newly renovated Crowe Building,” he said. “Our nationally ranked Department of Physiology will relocate from dated space in the Coleman Building to Grade-A wet lab space in the newly renovated Nash and Nash Annex. The campus administration has moved to the heart of the campus in the Mooney Building.”

The Mooney Library Building, named for C.P.J. Mooney, who was the editor of The Commercial Appeal and a member of the UT Board of Trustees in the 1920s, stands at the center of the quadrangle. Conceived as the focal point of the Memphis campus, but empty since 1985 when the campus library moved to the Lamar Alexander Building, the Mooney Building fronts on a courtyard that ties the structures together. It is now the headquarters for the UTHSC leadership, including the chancellor and the executive vice chancellor.

The building has three floors with approximately 30 offices and a bottom-floor basement for storage. The first, or ground floor, has 20 offices. The second floor has a wood-paneled, formal gathering room with a fireplace for campus events, meetings, and social functions. The top floor houses offices for the chancellor, the executive vice chancellor, and the Campus Boardroom.

Adjacent to the Mooney Building is the Crowe Building, also completed in 1928, which fronts on the green space and backs up along Union Avenue. It offers the first dedicated home for the College of Nursing in its history. The 53,390-square-foot building includes 82 offices, a College of Nursing Board Conference Room, a student lounge, a reception area, a quiet room, and other spaces.

The Nash and Nash Annex Buildings add top-of-the line research space to the campus.

The Nash and Nash Annex Buildings adjoining the Crowe Building bring 68,000 square feet of needed Grade-A wet-laboratory space, adding to the 250,000 square feet of research space in the $25.2 million Cancer Research Building that opened in 2007; the $49 million Translational Science Research Building that opened in 2014; and recently upgraded space in the College of Pharmacy Building.

“The value proposition in having the increased laboratory space is that institutions like ours get rated by their federal funding, and to get more federal funding, you need more Grade-A research space,” Dr. Brown told the media before the quadrangle renovation began.

With Flintco Construction as the contractor, the project was completed in three phases and ended up costing $68.5 million. Phase I entailed selective demolition to prepare for construction, as well as a hazardous material survey and abatement work. Phase II involved cleaning the building exteriors and installation of new windows. Phase III was the general building and site renovation.

All the windows on the entire project were replaced with updated high-performance glazing and insulated thermal frames. The buildings retain their original style. When it was originally built, architectural consultants Jones and Furbringer designed the quadrangle to resemble St. John’s College at the University of Oxford and Trinity College at Cambridge University, according to records from the Health Sciences Library at UTHSC.

All windows in the renovated buildings were restored and updated with the latest thermal features. These are in the  gathering room in the Mooney Building.

Great care was taken to retain and restore the original stairs and other historic woodwork, primarily in the Mooney Building. During the renovation, construction crews unearthed a time capsule from the original construction.

The Historic Quadrangle construction is part of the of the UTHSC Campus Master Plan, that was unveiled in 2014 and updated in 2019. Dr. Brown has led the development and evolution of the plan outlining the campus’s growth for the future.

Thanks to generous funding from the state and supporters, anyone who visits UTHSC’s main campus in Memphis can see the ongoing transformation. Nearly $400 million in construction and improvements have stemmed from the plan. These include: $5 million in demolition of obsolete buildings; a $6 million renovation of the Lamar Alexander Building; the $25.2 million Cancer Research Building; the $49 million Translational Science Research Building; the $20 million Plough Center for Sterile Drug Delivery Solutions; more than $20 million in security upgrades; the $39.7 million Center for Healthcare Improvement and Patient Simulation; and the renovation of the Historic Quadrangle.

Construction recently began on the $45 million Delta Dental of Tennessee Building that will wrap the existing Dunn Dental Building and bring new classroom, clinical, and research space to the College of Dentistry.

Significant landscaping, signage, and interior and exterior updates have also been added on the campus.

Other projects on the horizon include a 10-acre public-private housing venture on the western edge of campus, and potentially a College of Medicine Building (at the intersection of Pauline Street and Madison Avenue), a Biotech Research Park, and a $200 million Women and Infants Pavilion.