New college building gets on Regents' capital wish list
There will be building destruction and construction at USU Eastern's Price campus, but it's a question of when.
The college's proposed Central Instruction Building has made the Board of Regents' priority project list. The $20 million structure is fifth on the list, behind $186 million worth of higher-ranking projects at other colleges and universities.
However, the Regents' list is not cast in concrete, so to speak. The state building board, the governor and the legislature also have a say in the matter. The USU Eastern building could move up or down in priority in the process.
One ray of hope for quick approval is that the legislature appropriated $75,000 for a study and early architectural concepts in its last session.
There's no question in the minds of college officials that the campus is due for some new bricks and mortar. Vice Chancellor Brad King explained that the proposed building will enable the college to nudge the Music and Old Student Activity Center buildings out of existence. "Nudge" is the correct word. These buildings are unreinforced masonry construction and - like the old Durrant School Building - could be knocked over with a push of a backhoe bucket.
Geary Theater is also seismically dangerous, but King said there are new construction techniques that will allow the theater to remain standing as the new building is constructed to the west.
The decision to build to the west of Geary and refurbish rather than demolish it trimmed about $15 million off the estimated construction cost, King explained.
He added that the new building, designed by Eaton Architects, will dominate the corner of Third East and Fourth North.
King said that the building is going to house several different functions. In addition to the refurbished and reinforced Geary Theater, it will incorporate a full-fledged scene shop, costume shop and a "black box" theater where the audience surrounds the set.
Having a scene shop means the stage won't have to be tied up for weeks during set construction and takedown.
With more than 35,000 square feet on the first level and 18,000 on the second, there will be room for choir and instrumental rehearsal rooms, individual music practice rooms, a secure art gallery and facilities for Criminal Justice instruction.
The floor plan also includes a few generic classrooms.
One of the challenges once construction starts will be accommodating the needs of the music department. Once its building is demolished to make way for the new one, musicians and instructors will be looking for temporary fixes for a year.
"They shouldn't be too upset because they'll be getting a new building in a year," the vice chancellor said. King quipped that Russell Wilson likes the acoustics of the Old Ballroom in the Student Activity Center anyway.
As for the rest of the Regents' building wish list, here are the proposals and the rankings the board approved during its September meeting at Utah State University in Logan:
Weber State University's new Science Lab Building, with a requested $60.9 million in state funds, and Utah Valley University's Classroom Building, with a $53.2 million state request, share the top spot. Following in order of priority are: Snow College Science Building Reconstruction,$11.8 million; USU Biological Sciences Building, $60 million; USU-Eastern Central Instruction Building, $20 million; Salt Lake Community College CTE Classroom and Learning Service Building, $15 million; and Dixie State College East Elementary School purchase, $1.5 million.
Regents also approved the Utah System of Higher Education's 2013-2014 budget request of $49,396,000, which includes $16 million for Mission-Based Performance Funding and $20 million to move forward Utah's goal that 66% of adults hold a higher education credential by 2020. The budget also includes $10.4 million in operational expenditures in infrastructure and technology and $2.95 million for student access initiatives and collaborations. Another $14 million was approved for state initiatives that will increase class size at the University of Utah's School of Medicine and implement Dixie State's university status.
The budget request and building priorities will be submitted to Governor Herbert for his consideration as he makes his overall recommendation to the Utah State Legislature for the 2013 legislative session.