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Consulting firm reveals preliminary master plan

March 3, 2011

A new science building and a parking garage are among the projects in the preliminary master plan for UW-River Falls, unveiled to the campus community by the consulting firm JJR Inc. Tuesday and Wednesday.

Work on the master plan started in earnest last September when JJR came to campus to meet with faculty, staff, students and the community. Those meetings brought about several alternatives and options for what the master plan should include.  Since last fall, JJR has been working with those suggestions along with the City of River Falls to design the master plan.

JJR, based out of Ann Arbor, Mich., is one of the premiere consulting firms in the country, said Campus Planner Dale Braun. JJR was paid $250,000 to put together the plan, which will take them two years from start to finish, Braun said. The impetus for the preliminary master plan was the projected growth of the university and to determine space needs.

According to J.JR consultant Jon Hoffman, UWRF is below the state and national average in academic space.

The preliminary master plan encompasses several projects that will alter the outward appearance of UWRF. The plan also addresses logistical issues such as roads, pedestrian walkways and building requirements. The plan is also taking into account how to preserve and protect one of UWRF’s core values of sustainability.

New Science building
One of the more significant projects will be a new science building where Karges and Hagestad are currently located. The rational behind the new building is to bring together all the different fields of science into one building.  The master plan design will unite chemistry, biology, physics, math and other applied sciences within the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.
Adjacent to the new science building, the plan indicates that a new residence hall will be built to accommodate the growth in students that is expected for UWRF. A science learning community for first year students will also be within the new residence hall.

Centennial Hall
Once the science courses are absorbed into the new building on the west side of campus, Centennial Hall will be renovated for classrooms, collaboration space and offices.

North Hall
There are currently 1200 people who cross Cascade Ave everday, as a way to minimize that number, courses taught in North Hall will be moved to other buildings, Hoffman said.  North Hall will then be comprised of administrative offices and collaboration space.

Rodli Hall
The preliminary master plan also sets in place a renovation of Rodli Hall. Once remodeled, Rodli Hall will house everything relating to enrollment services and will be the common welcome center for prospective and new students, Hoffmann said. Other student services such as the academic success center, career and health counseling and international programs will also be located in Rodli hall, added Hoffman.

Parking
Parking lots K and N, which are currently located in the floodplain of the Kinnickinnic, will be removed and converted into open space for recreation and storm water protection area. A three story parking structure will be built on Q lot west of North Hall.  The structure will provide an additional 500 parking spaces.

At noon on Wednesday, the consultants stood outside of the dining services in the University Center to show students a large diagram of the preliminary master plan. Several students showed their interest by asking questions and studying the plan.

Steph Jankowski said she liked the plan, especially the addition to the head greenhouse, because she said there are classes that currently compete for space.

Ruth Bohnhoff said she liked how the plan reuses existing buildings such as Rodli Hall.

One student was not as interested in the master plan.  After finding out that the entire master plan will not be complete for 20 years, she was overheard saying, “I don’t care, I will be gone by then.”

Director of University Recreation and Sports Facilities Steve Stocker said he is unhappy with some of the aspects of the master plan. Two of the outdoor fields will be taken and parking lots will be put in their place, said Stocker.  Although some of the sports related issues that Stocker has will be addressed with the new Health and Human Performance building, the plan doesn’t fully address the needs and concerns of faculty and students, he said.

Assistant Director of Recreation Ryan McCallum said that recreation is non-existent in the plan.

The first projects within the master plan that will be addressed are the South Fork Suites and the Health and Human Performance Building, but beyond that it is speculation, said Braun.

The cost for the entire master plan and who will fund it is unknown, he added.

The consultants are asking for feedback from the campus community. Those interested in commenting on the preliminary master plan can email Braun by March 22 at www.dale.k.braun@uwrf.edu. JJR will be back on campus April 27 to deliver the final master plan.