KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — University of Tennessee architecture students finished a unique project that will now serve as a landmark for UT’s Research Park at Cherokee Farms.

For the last year, students in Lecturer James Rose’s studio have been designing, 3D printing and installing a pavilion on the research campus. The pavilion honors a native plant, the Trillium Tennesseense. In fact, it is not only named the Trillium Pavilion but its curved surfaces and three-lobed dome are inspired by the plant’s flower. This design offers seating and shade as well. The pavilion is also made from recycled polymers.

“One of the innovations of the project is the use of the thinnest possible structural shell, only about 5/8” thick,” said Rose, who also is director of the college’s Institute for Smart Structures. The thin-shell structure will be printed in a single-bead thickness from carbon fiber reinforced ABS, which is recycled and recyclable into new prints. When finished, the pavilion will weigh only about 1,400 pounds, but despite its light weight, the structure will be extremely durable and sturdy as it spans 15 feet and shelters the three seating areas.

The students who worked on the project not only learned about design and architecture, they worked used large-scale manufacturing techniques developed in East Tennessee and worked with Loci Robotics. This company is based in Knoxville and builds “custom large-format hybrid additive and subtractive manufacturing equipment” according to UT. They have worked on several projects with the Institute for Smart Structures.

In November 2022, the Trillium pavilion was printed at Loci Robotics and installed at the primary path access to the Cherokee Farm Park and Greenway. Both park-goers and researchers at the campus’s Institute for Advanced Materials and Manufacturing and other facilities can access the pavilion. It will also be close to a new UT transit stop.

“This student project is the latest in a series of built projects exploring the architectural applications of large-scale additive manufacturing in partnership with the regional innovators of this emerging technology,” Rose said. “This design/build project is providing hands-on experience and mutually beneficial learning outcomes for the students, who are working with engineers at our local industry partner, Loci Robotics.”