Students can expect construction on the Monroe Park campus to continue in 2014 with improvements to Cabell library, construction of two new dorms and at least four other projects already slated.
Brian Ohlinger, associate vice president of facilities management, said the two biggest projects—the library renovations and new dorms—will both begin in March.
The Cabell Library project is estimated to cost $51 million and includes adding 90,000 square feet to the north end of the library and renovating 75,000 square feet of space inside the library. The addition and renovations, Ohlinger said, will be complete in December 2015 and open in the spring semester of 2016.
The second major project beginning in March is the construction of two student housing buildings near 500 Academic Center, Ohlinger said.
The first building will be located at Grace and Harrison Streets and the other will be at the corner of Broad and Ryland Streets. The buildings will each house a new learning community.
“One will be innovation and the other one will be leadership,” said Kevin Wade, senior associate director of administrative services.
The buildings will be apartment-style with four single bedrooms and two bathrooms, similar to those in West Grace North and South, Wade said. The new dorms will add about 400 beds to on-campus housing.
Psychology major Christina Taylor said she thinks the university’s construction plans will benefit students.
“I think the new dorms will be a good addition because there’s already the lottery for upperclassman dorms and I had friends who didn’t get the housing that they wanted then they had to scramble for something,” Taylor said.
Preparations are also being made for several other projects on the Monroe Park Campus.
One project, a new computer store run by University Business Services, will open in February near the Grace Street Theater and West Broad Street parking deck. It will specialize in Apple and Dell computers.
Ohlinger explained that the store will have computers available for purchase that are bundled with programs necessary to students’ specific majors. For example, an art student could go in and buy a computer with all of the programs they need for their courses.
Another project, the privately funded $35 million Institute For Contemporary Arts at the intersection of Broad and Belvidere Streets, is nearing its fundraising goals as well.
“The design is complete so as soon as the fundraising is complete the construction will start,” Ohlinger said. The school will likely break ground on the project in the next six months, he added.
Another project aimed at accomodating the arts is renovations to the former Richmond Glass Company at 814 W. Broad Street that will be complete by March.
“That’s all a part of trying to get the arts programs along Broad Street and the city’s efforts of First Friday art walks,” Ohlinger said. “That will be diagonally across from the new institute of Contemporary Arts.”
Nearby at Shafer and Grace Streets, another new building will contain offices and classroom space to fill needs of the Global Education program. This project, though privately owned, is expected to lease apartments to students.
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