Archive for Friday, April 17, 1998

LIKE THE REST OF TOWN, KU EXPANDS TO THE WEST

April 17, 1998

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The future of KU's West Campus includes the Robert J. Dole Institute for Public Policy and a new headquarters for the KU Endowment Association.

Go West, KU!

This year, Kansas University's West Campus will renew its transformation from the acres of vast grassy, tree-filled university land to a more active western cousin of the main campus.

The trend got into full swing in 1994 with the opening of the Lied Center, and continues with the construction of a new headquarters for the KU Endowment Association; the Robert J. Dole Institute for Public Policy; and a new storage facility for KU's Facilities Operations. The university is also upgrading and adding sidewalks along parts of West Campus.

``Clearly that whole part of the world is going to be incrementally filled up over the next 10 or 15 years,'' said Burdett Loomis, KU professor of political science and acting director of the Dole Institute.

The KU Endowment Association, currently housed in Youngberg Hall on West Campus, will be moving this spring into its new facility, said John Scarffe, KUEA director of communications.

Construction on the $5 million, 52,000-square-foot building is nearing completion just west of Constant Avenue, between 19th Street and the Irving Hill Road bridge. The project began in the fall.

``We have tentative plans to move in late April,'' Scarffe said. ``We're starting to get ready for the move now, in terms of sorting materials.''

The actual move should only take one weekend, he added, followed by another month of re-sorting and getting settled.

Youngberg Hall will then be converted for use by the KU Center for Research Inc. (CRINC), which is currently spread out among three campus locations, each housing research, public service or financial services: Strong Hall, Nichols Hall and Carruth O'Leary. And the recent formation of CRINC into one campuswide organization added incentive for the geographic consolidation.

``Physically, we'll be together in Youngberg,'' said Bob Barnhill, KU vice chancellor for research and public service. ``These three groups have never been together before. It's essential in any organization to have the people as close as possible to each other.''

The advantages will include the ease of computer networking, and other ``things that make everyday life simpler,'' Barnhill said. ``(Researchers) can come to one place with easy parking and have all their requests met in one place. ... It'll be much more cohesive.''

Wonderful condition

Once KUEA vacates the building, cleanup efforts will ensue.

``Endowment's leaving it in wonderful condition,'' Barnhill said.

KU's Information Technology and Telecommunications Center will be expanding into the Nichols Hall space vacated by CRINC.

``They have several million a year in external funding,'' Barnhill said. ``We're delighted to be able to capture some more space for one of our brightest research groups.''

CRINC's move into Youngberg Hall will also help the university reach KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway's goal of $120 million in federal research funds by the year 2000. In a recent National Science Foundation study, KU was 95th out of 493 schools in terms of federal research and development dollars over a recent seven-year period.

To the north of this activity -- and southwest of the Lied Center -- the university plans to construct the 29,000-square-foot Robert J. Dole Institute for Public Service and Public Policy. As long as proper funding is secured for the $6 million project (the Legislature was debating a $3 million allocation in March), plans should be finalized by July and construction could begin by spring of 1999.

The facility could then be finished by the end of 2000.

``Clearly we can't do anything concrete, so to speak, until after the state Legislature acts,'' Loomis said. ``We have a proposal in the governor's budget, (but) the House whacked it out (in early March). We're legitimately hopeful that it will be in the final budget.''

The so-called ``building narrative'' could then be put in the hands of architects for bidding ``almost immediately,'' Loomis said. ``We'd pick an architect by the end of the year.''

The primary purpose of the building will be to house Dole's U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate papers, which are currently being stored in the basement of the KU Spencer Research Library behind Strong Hall. The institute would also be a setting for seminars, conferences and for broadcasting such meetings throughout the area and perhaps throughout the country.

Maintenance project

As for other West Campus plans, city approval has been given to build an $800,000, 40,000-square-foot concrete and metal building on KU Endowment Association property near the current KU Facilities and Operations annex along 15th Street, south of the printing services building.

``You'd never see it from any street,'' said Warren Corman, university architect. ``Endowment is building it for us, and (the state) will pay them back with a lease.''

The plan is to complete the building by the fall.

Matt Gowen's phone message number is 832-7222. His e-mail address is gowen@ljworld.com.

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