Wash. U. construction accelerates with surge of projects, funds
Construction on the Danforth Campus escalated over the summer to one of the most widespread face-lifts Washington University has seen in recent years. And due to the University’s ongoing billion-dollar fundraising campaign funding many of the changes, officials say the yellow caution tape around campus won’t be disappearing anytime soon.
From leveling the South 40 Swamp to excavating for the Brown School of Social Work’s upcoming extension and making major steps forward in the new Olin Business School buildings and Delmar Loop Lofts, the University is making changes that administrators say students will immediately recognize on their return to campus.
Some of the work has already affected students: intensive work to make the Swamp greener and flatter—and thus more usable, according to Tim Lempfert, associate director of residential life—meant new students could not park on it to unload their belongings during move-in. And a large area to the east of Brown Hall has been fenced off as the school of social work undergoes a $60 million expansion.
But while these projects may cause some inconvenience, many will offer immediate welcome changes to campus, James Kolker, assistant vice chancellor of campus planning, said.
New bike racks outside of Sever Hall add more bicycle parking to the center of campus, in line with the school’s long-term plan to make campus more accommodating to student bikers. A recently completed extension to McMillan Hall will give the Department of Anthropology a new classroom and two new teaching labs this fall, facilities Kolker said are much-needed, state-of-the-art additions.
Although those changes are complete, some of the most noticeable campus construction is the ongoing work just west of McMillan, where two new buildings for the business school are nearing completion. Kolker said the University expects to complete Knight and Bauer Halls in the coming spring, and students will return to buildings that look almost ready for use.
What may be less immediately clear is that the main entrance to the new buildings—as well as to the McMillan extension—will be on Throop Drive by the Millbrook parking garage, part of which was torn down more than a year ago to be converted into a plaza.
“It really starts to give more activity to the north side…to make the Throop area more of a place than just a service garage,” Kolker said.
Several blocks north of the Danforth Campus, Washington University’s Lofts on the Delmar Loop are beginning to take shape, with three of the four buildings under construction and on schedule to open in the fall of 2014, according to Lempfert.
“It’s going really well,” Lempfert said. “As students come back to campus, as they drive down Delmar, they’ll start to see significant work has taken place, and they’ll continue to see developments in coming months.”
The first level of the apartments will be dedicated to retail space, including a Global Foods grocery store and the 24-hour Peacock Loop Diner, the University announced earlier this summer. Joe Edwards, owner of Blueberry Hill and The Pageant, will operate the diner.
The projects currently underway are the first of many slated for the next few years.
The University plans to begin preparations to renovate the Athletic Complex in the coming spring—renovations that include a projected 66,500-square-foot addition expected to be complete by the fall of 2015. The project is one of many funded under the University’s Leading Together fundraising campaign, under which the school has raised around $1.31 billion in the past four years.
Running through 2018, the campaign looks to raise a total of $2.2 billion, $225 million of which will go to a wide array of improved University facilities.
Among the improvements, the Office of Residential Life is also finalizing plans for the new Rubelmann House. ResLife plans to demolish the traditional dorm next summer and begin work on the long-awaited project that will continue the modernization of the South 40.
Plans for the new Rubelmann have been in the works since before 2009, when Umrath House was built with a shear wall that will ultimately be the connection point between the two dorms.