Renovations, improvements introduced

The $94 million construction plan to build the University Union and renovate the Brown-Lupton Student Center was unveiled to community members Monday by TCU officials.Construction on the campus commons area, which will include four new residence halls, the University Union, renovation of the Student Center and a grass area between the Student Center and the Union, was approved by members of the Board of Trustees on Friday. The project is scheduled to begin in Summer 2006.

The expansion of the campus commons is a goal of Vision In Action, the strategic planning initiative created by Chancellor Victor Boschini in 2003 and is designed to form a nexus between academic life and student life, Boschini said.

“We want to enhance the crossroads of the campus and create a vibrant learning environment,” Boschini said.

The Union, a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week campus activity area that will replace the Student Center, will include indoor and outdoor dining areas, campus retail stores, a late-night restaurant, conference areas and a heritage center, said Don Mills, vice chancellor for student affairs.

“There may be an amphitheater as well, but we are hoping to design the structure in such a way to save existing trees,” he said.

Mills said Frog Fountain will remain a landmark but may be moved.

“I bet you didn’t know it was a movable fountain,” he said.

The current Student Center will house student organizations, Career Services, University Ministries and the admissions office. The building will also provide additional faculty offices.

In addition to the campus commons area, the Bailey Building will receive a $10.2 million makeover.

“The School of Education is program-rich and space-poor,” Boschini said. “We have increased enrollment, but we haven’t enhanced facilities.”

As a result of the renovation, space in the School of Education will be tripled, allowing professors to teach their classes in the Bailey Building instead of other buildings, Boschini said.

“Also, office space will be increased, so faculty won’t feel like they are advising students in a closet,” Boschini said.

Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Brian Gutierrez confirmed funds for the Bailey Building have been raised and will not “come out of TCU’s pocket.”

The Vision In Action plan is bringing student activity facilities to the center of campus and as a result, is pushing parking lots to the edge, Mills said.

The 300 spaces in front of the Student Center will be relocated to the south side of the University Recreation Center, and more parking will be available in the Worth Hills area, Mills said.

The Grandmarc Apartment Complex will hold 700 student vehicles that otherwise would probably be parked in on-campus parking spaces, he said.

“I really think students are underestimating the power of less traffic,” Mills said in reference to the grass commons area that will replace existing parking spaces and streets between the Student Center and Stadium Drive.

There isn’t a finalized time line for construction, but Mills said projects will be completed in five to 10 years depending on the resources.