Archive for Friday, March 3, 2006

KU leaders envision research megacomplex

480 acres bought decades ago get new life

March 3, 2006


A good mantra for those atop Mount Oread: "Go west, young man."

With the main campus already pinched for space, university leaders have been turning to west campus - where 300 of 480 acres remain undeveloped.

Kansas University hopes to turn an area in the southeast portion of west campus into a top-flight research park.

"We've always thought of the west campus as a place that would be dedicated to a great deal of research," Chancellor Robert Hemenway said.

The $40 million, 106,000-square-foot Multidisciplinary Research Building, or MRB, that opened in November is roughly one-eighth the total space that could be dedicated to research activities in the area, university architect Warren Corman said, painting a picture of a research megacomplex.

According to far-looking KU plans, Becker Drive will curve around the new MRB and loop around to the front of the Higuchi Biosciences Research Area to connect with the existing Constant Avenue, forming a circle.

It's the space inside the circle that could be home to new research facilities, Corman said. The circle, which is not completed yet, is already home to such facilities as the Higuchi building, and Smissman Research, McCollum and Simons Biosciences Research laboratories as well as the MRB.

There is talk of adding a pharmacy building. And there is room for more research space.

KU is putting in a $20 million, 45,000-square-foot addition to the west side of the Structural Biology Center. That project is expected to be completed and open by April 2007.

Jim Roberts, KU's vice provost for research, said it could be that the university continues to add on to the Structural Biology Center, adding space to the south, building up additional levels or heading in other directions.

Corman said some of the older buildings in the area may have to be replaced. New buildings would maximize space by being multi-level and close together, possibly with courtyards in between, he said.

Long-term plans are fuzzy, Corman said, and right now are just dreams.

"We're still working on the long-range plans," Corman said. "Every day a different idea comes up and we change things."

But there is broken ground. Crews are working on a 1,500-space parking lot south of MRB. The lot is projected to cost nearly $10.5 million.

When it opens in August, the park-and-ride lot will be accessible from Clinton Parkway and will have shuttle connections to the main campus.

KU will purchase five new buses, including one spare for the shuttle, which will make stops at six-minute intervals during peak times, said Donna Hultine, director of parking services. There will be at least three stops on the main campus, she said, though staff are still working on the system's particulars.

There are no plans on the table to build on what now are intramural recreation fields along the southeast corner of west campus, said Jim Modig, director of design and construction management. The fields are on land uniquely flat and well-suited for their current purpose, he said.

Hemenway said sooner or later the university will have to consider a long-term plan for the intramural fields area.

"We do know that it's something that we need to think about as we plan the future of the campus," he said.

And the campus is geared for expansion. A large basement in the MRB building houses large boilers and cooling systems. The space could easily be expanded to be used by new facilities, Modig said.

The university is prepared for new facilities with electric lines, sewer, water lines and other infrastructure.

"What we have done is brought in underground utilities to cover almost everything we need over there," Corman said.

KU Endowment purchased the 480-acre west campus decades ago. The Endowment leases the park-and-ride property to the state for $1 per year plus liability costs, said Jennifer Humphrey, development editor at the Endowment.

Requests for using the west campus land are made by the chancellor to the Endowment, and the Endowment's executive board ultimately must approve projects.


Chris Tackett 11 years, 9 months ago

one word: MONO RAIL!

(or is that two words? ; ))

Kookamooka 11 years, 9 months ago

Where will the MOUNTAIN LIONS live? I have a shed in my backyard they might like.

yourworstnightmare 11 years, 9 months ago

Most of the money used to leverage these research buildings comes from external grant money from the federal government. This speaks to the excellent research enterpise happening at KU.

Godot 11 years, 9 months ago

Does KU have to get approval through the Neighborhood Resources Dept. for this new deveopment, or are they exempt?

What about the runoff from the new asphalt? What effect will this have on sewer capacity?

lawrencian 11 years, 9 months ago

Three hours? What a terrible problem! Do you really, honestly think that all 1500 cars will pull into the lot at exactly the same time every day??? With buses running continuously, people will get on a bus to campus as others are parking....... Physically impossible for them all to get there at the same time, anyway!

wonderhorse 11 years, 9 months ago


If you look at other park/ride lots (okay, the only one I have seen is Lied Center), the arrivals are in dribs and drabs. I have never seen that one filled up. Cars are constantly coming and going.

Linda Aikins 11 years, 9 months ago

I think they mean that if all the kids park in the lot (however many there are), and all ride the bus, it will take three hours to go back and forth to take them all?

Do you think that's what it means?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 9 months ago

I believe they are applying for a grant for 5 buses, and I doubt that all the users of the lot will get there or leave at the same time.

hawkbygod 11 years, 9 months ago

QUOTE: "One bus from the lot to campus every 6 minutes? Do the math - it will take a 50 seat bus three hours to ship the kids to campus if the car park is full!"

What? I think your math is a bit off.

adky 11 years, 9 months ago

One bus from the lot to campus every 6 minutes? Do the math - it will take a 50 seat bus three hours to ship the kids to campus if the car park is full!

Hong_Kong_Phooey 11 years, 9 months ago

adky: What are you talking about?! How will it take the buses three hours to drive from that lot to Jayhawk Blvd? It's going to be a shuttle from the lot to the main part of campus, not a bus that regularly stops at every place somebody wants to get off.

Kookamooka 11 years, 9 months ago

Hemp farm? Pharmaceuticals? add a few meth labs and Lawrence can become the DRUG capitol of the U.S. This might be good for our TOURISM buisness. Or will we be attacked by the Feds in their war against DRUGS?

b_asinbeer 11 years, 9 months ago

I love this idea. It will further Kansas' stronghold in Pharmaceutical Chemistry research and other areas as well. I say that this will be great for the future of Lawrence and the University of Kansas.

badger 11 years, 9 months ago

I hope they get their goals and direction firmed up and go ahead with this.

A large research park would do wonders towards encouraging technical and bioscience businesses to locate in the Lawrence area.

Liberty 11 years, 9 months ago

Expansions like this one are the reason that Ku doesn't take care of the upkeep on the buildings that they already have. Then they will want to increase your taxes later when they get in a pinch.

adky 11 years, 9 months ago

A bus will stop at the lot every six minutes at peak times. Assume the lot is full and 1500 kids are waiting. 50 kids get on that bus, leaving 1450 still waiting. After six minutes another bus arrives and takes another 50 kids, leaving 1400 waiting. At that rate the last kids will not be transported for 3 hours. OK, not all the kids are going to turn up at once, but assuming it is half full, that rate of bus arrivals seems pitifully low. It can't be that each of the five buses will stop every six minutes. I drove from the lot to the fountain on Campus this morning and just a one way trip took me 7 minutes!

lunacydetector 11 years, 9 months ago

mmmkay,......the city / county is talking strong about raising everyone's property taxes so they can take $20 million and use it for research/industrial parks and the enviromentalists are getting a bunch of that money for some hemp farms or something BUT at the same time KU is putting in a massive multi-million dollar research park......

why is the city / county strongly proposing raising our property taxes again?

CeeCee 11 years, 9 months ago

"When it opens in August, the park-and-ride lot will be accessible from Clinton Parkway and will have shuttle connections to the main campus."

I hope they aren't thinking of using the entrance that the construction crews are currently using. The way our side of the intersection is configured, it can't hold that volume of traffic. On a side note, it wouldn't hurt the construction crews to slow down and look before coming out of the gate. We've almost been hit several times.

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