Archive for Saturday, August 13, 1994


August 13, 1994


The top priority on KU's construction list is the rebirth of Hoch Auditorium. Work could begin this fall.

At this time last year, Kansas University loyalists thought construction workers would soon bring fire-ravaged Hoch Auditorium back to life.

As abruptly as the building went up in flames in 1991, however, KU officials discovered in November that contractors' bids on the project were way over budget.

That left KU architect Allen Wiechert with two choices: Either redesign Hoch to cut costs or find a pile of money to meet demands of contractors.

With the help of Gov. Joan Finney, the 1994 Legislature allocated about $3 million more for Hoch. With nearly $22 million in the kitty, Wiechert said, Hoch could be bid a second time this month.

"We don't expect any problems this time around," he said. "That being the case, we could start construction in the last part of October."

Wiechert said it would take two years to rebuild the campus landmark on Jayhawk Boulevard, which was struck by lightning in July 1991.

All that remains of the building is the old limestone facade. The main auditorium -- used by basketball teams, orchestras and for lecture classes -- was demolished.

Hoch is among a long list of construction projects on the university's construction agenda -- an agenda that for the first time in years is the subject of a long-range planning task force.

Wiechert said the task force is conducting an extensive examination of campus building needs. Members will update a 1973 master plan that was supposed to last 10 years, but actually served the university well for 15 years.

"The plan has been obsolete for five years. Some of it longer than that," Wiechert said.

He said there were four construction projects in the planning stage that would fit nicely with KU's long-range strategic program.

They are:

  • Child-care center. A consultant will be hired to help KU with site selection and architectural planning. One possible location for the center is next to Stouffer Place Apartments, 19th and Iowa. Demand for child care at the existing center, Hilltop Child Development Center, has exceeded space for years.
  • Parking garage. Of course, everyone at KU is interested in more parking. Consultants are conducting a feasibility study regarding construction of "probably more than one" parking garage on campus, Wiechert said. Meanwhile, the two small garages at Jayhawker Towers Apartments will likely be replaced.
  • Residence halls. The state Board of Regents recently authorized KU to hire a firm to help the housing department plan the redesign of campus residence halls. The idea is to transform traditional double-occupancy rooms into apartments, which would make KU housing more competitive with commercial renters.
  • Campus health center. In early 1995, KU will begin rehabilitating Watkins Health Center. The $5 million project will add 17,500 square feet of space and remodel 17,200 square feet of the building. Student fees will pay the construction debt, which will be financed with revenue bonds.

Several projects are now under way on campus, including the $8.9 million Dolph Simons Center for Bioscience Research on West Campus.

The building at 21st and Iowa., named for Dolph Simons, late editor and publisher of the Journal-World, will provide space for KU's nationally recognized pharmaceutical and biochemical research programs. It could be finished in fall 1995.

In addition, KU expects to complete a fire safety renovation in Allen Fieldhouse by the date of the first men's basketball game of the 1994-95 season. Water sprinklers and new exits for people seated in the upper balcony are being added.

A recital hall for organists, a $1.3 million addition to the Lied Center for the performing arts on West Campus, has been designed.

However, construction bids on the hall were $200,000 over budget when opened in June. The setback means the addition won't be finished in time to accommodate the scheduled arrival of a $750,000 organ in 1995.

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