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Archive for Sunday, July 7, 2013

Master plan will shape future of KU’s campus

July 7, 2013

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John Meyers works in one of the old labs in Kansas University's Malott Hall on Wednesday. Many of KU's science labs are in buildings more than 50 years old, such as Malott.

John Meyers works in one of the old labs in Kansas University's Malott Hall on Wednesday. Many of KU's science labs are in buildings more than 50 years old, such as Malott.

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It’s a tough enough task to guess how Kansas University’s campus might need to change to teach future students who are now in high school, or even perhaps middle school.

But the consultants working now on a KU master plan are thinking beyond that: What about future Jayhawks who are still toddlers? What will they need on campus? And what will KU scientists be researching by then?

These are the sorts of questions on the minds of the consultants forming KU’s first new master plan since 1997. The master plan will be a map for how the KU campus will serve the university over the next 10 or 15 years.

KU has a $1.17 million contract with Norfolk, Va.-based planning firm Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas & Co. to help develop the plan, and the yearlong process should be done sometime in December.

They’ll have to consider factors such as how technology will change how students learn over the next decade-plus, what kind of space KU researchers will need, and what continued growth on KU’s West Campus will mean for the campus as a whole.

One thing is clear, said Jim Modig, KU’s director of Design and Construction Management: KU’s going to need more space.

In fact, according to national standards, KU has a shortage of about 130,000 usable square feet on the Lawrence campus right now.

“That was kind of a surprise to us,” Modig said.

Expanding westward

The master planners are working with projections for 12 percent growth in undergraduate enrollment and 22 percent growth in graduate enrollment over the next 10 years, bringing the Lawrence campus to about 26,000 students total. That would call for about 600,000 more usable square feet, Modig said. (The campus has about 5.7 million square feet of assignable space right now.)

Though some additional space is coming on the main part of the Lawrence campus — including new buildings for the School of Business and the School of Engineering — things are getting pretty crowded. That means a lot of the growth will need to happen across Iowa Street on KU’s West Campus.

“The West Campus and other properties come into a much, much higher level of importance than they’ve had in the past,” said John Gaunt, dean of KU’s School of Architecture, Design and Planning and part of a steering committee for the master planning process.

That creates a tricky issue, Modig said. Right now, the West Campus contains mostly research labs and standalone programs — the School of Pharmacy, the Lied Center, the Dole Institute of Politics.

But if more and more growth occurs, it might call for more of a connection between the two sections of campus than what exists now: a single bridge over Iowa Street. So planners are pondering how, if at all, the two campuses could someday become one.

“If we are one campus, what are the possibilities for the university at that point?” Modig said.

More room for research

Planners also are projecting a 40 percent increase in research space over the next 10 years.

As the KU faculty expands — especially in the School of Engineering — and leaders continue to improve KU’s research reputation, labs will be in high demand, said Joe Heppert, an associate vice chancellor for research and graduate studies.

Right now, many of KU’s research labs sit in old, outdated buildings. Lindley, Malott and Haworth halls, three buildings filled with science labs, were built in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, respectively.

“The laser didn’t exist when many of those buildings were built,” Heppert said, not to mention a variety of other modern-day technologies. Planners will have to determine whether KU might be better off renovating those labs for future use, or building entirely new ones elsewhere.

And the classrooms of the future will look different, too. Introductory classes at KU are shifting from traditional lectures to “hybrid” formats with more online materials and small-group activities. That means more 300-person lecture halls are not likely to be in the plans.

Gaunt said it will be important for KU’s future buildings to grab future students’ attention and provide services for students that they can’t get from an online course, as well.

“We really need to create those magnetic places and enrich the quality of life of being here at the university,” Gaunt said, “and what one gains from being here.”

Comments

Kirk Larson 1 year, 5 months ago

Interesting the mention of lasers. In Malott there is limited space for the Physics department to do laser work. It has to be on the basement floor. Any higher and the minute vibrations in the floor throw off the picometer level of precision necessary.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 5 months ago

"It’s a tough enough task to guess how Kansas University’s campus might need to change to teach future students who are now in high school, or even perhaps middle school.

But the consultants working now on a KU master plan are thinking beyond that: What about future Jayhawks who are still toddlers? What will they need on campus? And what will KU scientists be researching by then?"

The employment landscape is a wild guess. How can any consultant know what people will need 30 years from now?

20 million USA full time workers are out of jobs. Where will these new grads of the future find jobs? Will these new grads need to plan for a commute to China,India or Brazil? Quite long commutes I'd say.

KU_cynic 1 year, 5 months ago

How about a remote park-and-walk/bike trail linking the current west campus with the undeveloped land that stretches to Kasold? I live in west Lawrence but am hesitant to bike on or along 15th Stree/Bob Billings to campus. A bike/fitness trail through the undeveloped land would be pretty cool.

JayhawkFan1985 1 year, 5 months ago

The street work on bob billings west of Iowa needs to incorporate on street bike lanes to facilitate active transportation connections between KU and the apartment complexes there. Any guesses as to whether that is included in the project scope? It's a good thing KDOT subsidizes the transportation planning in this town or we would really be up a creek...

Hooligan_016 1 year, 5 months ago

I would rather have 6' sidewalks (like on 23rd street) instead of on street lanes on that stretch of road. As a cyclist I wouldn't feel that safe with the hills that encourage more speed and blind views.

Carol Bowen 1 year, 5 months ago

If KU is predicting 26,000 students in ten years, the student population is slipping. It has been as high as 27,000 in the past. In fact, I'll bet the student population has been about the same over the thirty years that I have read about it. The chances of the state population increasing are not good, because the rate of increased population is decreasing nation-wide. In other words, the population is not growing as fast as it used to.

KU should be planning infill and renewal instead of campus sprawl. KU has trouble maintaining the buildings it has now. Yes, KU needs updating. Sprawl is not necessary to update. I can see why the state legislature has stubbornly cut university budgets. KUs knee-jerk response was to raise tuition rather than to evaluate programs and services. KU would be wise to have a conservative approach towards modernizing its campus.

SinoHawk 1 year, 5 months ago

hear_me:

I absolutely agree that less sprawl is better (i.e., keep student-facing facilities on the main campus).

I personally believe that these consultants are hired just so that the administrations wanting to expand can exert pressure on the relevant legislators/donors to make it happen. Given the higher ed bubble that already exists and the dramatic building programs taking place at universities across the country, I would expect that many institutions are FAR overbuilding for the growth that will actually occur.

Students/parents are already under tremendous financial strain as tuitions have far outpaced inflation, and a lot of the unnecessary elements of campus expansion are going to worsen this for students in coming years. KU students have it easy compared to those in some other states (where in-state tuition is ludicrous), but a lot of kids are coming out with degrees of questionable value and accompanied with tens or hundreds of thousands in debt.

yourworstnightmare 1 year, 5 months ago

The population of Kansas is shrinking. It is a smart move on the part of KU to have a "growth" plan that includes realistic assessment of future enrollment.

The future of KU will need to include higher tuition, higher admissions standards, and aggressive recruiting of the best students in Kansas and the region.

In other words, KU must start acting like a flagship research institution rather than just one of the many regent's institutions.

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