During an address to faculty and staff, Interim President Dr. Steve Westbrook released information about the addition of about 100 new parking spots for students. Westbrook also mentioned the university’s plan of constructing new residence halls, including creating a new first year residence hall that will be located east of Lumberjack Landing.
Phase one is to break ground on construction, which is scheduled to start in January and projected to end in the summer of 2021. Phase two will be to tear down Hall 16 and create a new dining hall to replace it. After the new dining hall is completed, the East College Dining Hall will be torn down to provide parking and green space. The estimated cost for the new residence hall and dining facility is $39.5 million.
“As we’ve had reunion groups come on campus over the past year, I’ve told them, ‘If you’ve lived in Hall 16 or ate in the East College Cafeteria…go by and get your picture made with it because it won’t be with us much longer,’” Westbrook said.
Construction has already started on the William R. Johnson Coliseum, where a new basketball performance center is underway. It is expected to take 18 months to finish. A new SFA Welcome Center and One Stop Shop will also be moving to the southeast zone of campus. An official location has not been finalized. The estimated cost is $13 million.
University plans also include the expansion of the Griffith Fine Arts building. The Baker Pattillo Student Center will also get an additional banquet hall and retail dining space.
When asked about how this construction may affect student’s day-to-day life, Bruce Lanham, manager of construction services said, “It is inevitable that there will be some disruptions for pedestrians and vehicular traffic during the construction phase, but we will place primary importance on keeping the campus community safe. We will provide information regarding alternate pedestrian routes and will work diligently to keep any disruptions to a minimum.”
According to the Campus Master Plan, the Miller Science building will also be renovated to have classrooms, laboratories, seminar and teaming spaces to support instructional needs to meet STEM initiative and science teaching goals.
There will be an opportunity to relocate offices from the College of Fine Arts to Wisely Hall. The preexisting offices will be converted into classrooms and laboratory space.
Renovations to the former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison House will be done to turn the historic building into a new home for the Culinary Café. The Hutchison house project is estimated to cost about $1.5 million and will include commercial kitchens and prep areas.
The master plan also includes renovations of the Steen Library, which will include adding new entrances that the plan states will improve cross-campus wayfinding.
The Sustainable Building Opportunities, as stated in the Campus Master Plan Update 2020, suggests that renovating buildings will help the school optimize space, as well as maximize the conservation of forestry, save money on construction materials and reduce energy use that is produced by the school. There will be similar renovations to the residence halls including Mays, North and South Hall and Hall 10 to meet sophomore and upperclassman residential goals.
The Implementation Goals for the Campus Master Plan Update 2020 introduces these phase procedures as, “Each phase is intended to further the goals and objectives of the Campus Master Plan. Highest and best use of university resources, academics, student life, community connectivity, sustainability, circulation, open space, image, identity, and a sense of completion at the end of each project, should all be optimized — whether the project is small or large in scale.”
Dr. Danny Gallant, vice president for finance and administration explained the funding for these renovations by saying, “The Culinary Café renovation will be funded with the Higher Education Fund. The fine arts expansion and Welcome Center are being funded with bond proceeds. The debt service on the bonds is funded with the Higher Education Fund.”