November 8, 2022 Students Design, Build 3D-Printed Pavilion at UT Cherokee Farm

render of a three-sided pavilion


The college’s work with the University of Tennessee Research Park at Cherokee Farm continues during the fall 2022 semester. This semester, students in Distinguished Lecturer James Rose’s studio have designed, and with help from industry partner Loci Robotics, are 3D printing and installing a pavilion on the research campus.

A year ago, students in Rose’s studio unveiled designs for an outdoor recreation center for the 150-acre research park to be built on the banks of the Tennessee River. That project, partnered by the Tennessee RiverLine, is currently under planning consideration.

This semester, Rose is leading graduate and undergraduate students in our School of Architecture to design, 3D print and install a pavilion on the Cherokee Farm campus. The visually dramatic pavilion is named Trillium after the native plant (Trillium tennesseense).

Inspired by the doubly curved surfaces and radial geometries of 60 and 120 degrees found in the trillium plant, the pavilion takes the form of a three-lobed 3D-printed structural dome. The design of the pavilion offers seating and shade and will provide a compelling new landmark for the research campus.

In addition to the experience gained from collaborating with a community organization and designing a large-scale structure, students also are learning about additive manufacturing/advanced materials and working with robotics experts. In fact, the pavilion’s thin, double-curved arches and integrated seating are only made possible with additive manufacturing.

“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.

“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.”

Loci Robotics was founded by design engineers with extensive experience in large-scale 3D-printing who have worked on several past projects with the Institute for Smart Structures. The company is located in downtown Knoxville and builds custom large-format hybrid additive and subtractive manufacturing equipment.

render of a three-sided pavilion

In early November 2022, the Trillium pavilion will be printed at Loci Robotics, and soon after, it will be installed at the primary path access to the Cherokee Farm Park and Greenway. This location is visible and accessible to both park-goers and researchers at the campus’s Institute for Advanced Materials and Manufacturing and other facilities and is adjacent to a new UT transit stop.

A project of the Institute for Smart Structures, the Trillium pavilion project is funded with generous support from the UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm; UT Office of Research, Innovation and Economic Development; and the East Tennessee Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.


Enjoy a video that depicts the project, from design to installation:


Enjoy an animation of the moving sun at it engages with the Trillium pavilion on the longest day of the year, June 21, 2023.

animation of shadows from moving sun


Enjoy this animation of the construction phases of the Trillium pavilion:


Learn more!

Read about the student-designed outdoor recreation center for UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm.

Learn about the School of Architecture.