Construction Changing Face of University
When Eric Ferreri graduated in May 1996, the UConn 2000 program had just begun and new construction projects were few. Much has changed since then and, as the 10-year, nearly $1 billion program enters its sixth year, the changes are striking - especially for people who have been away from Connecticut.
"I'm continually stunned by the changes to the campus," said Ferreri, who lives in North Carolina but returns to Storrs regularly to visit his parents. "In the last five years, the campus has changed dramatically. I'm always surprised. It's almost like a game, coming back to town every once in a while and finding the newest building."
There have been plenty for Ferreri to choose from. Since the summer day in 1995 when Gov. John Rowland signed the landmark legislation, 16 new buildings have sprouted in Storrs alone, and another 16 have been renovated. Behind the scenes, more than 70 classrooms have been fitted with the latest technological advances, and a new underground infrastructure has been built to provide heat, water, and cooling systems to new and old buildings alike.
This semester students and faculty returning to campus get their first look at the new Visitors Center at the corner of Hillside and North Eagleville roads, and a completely renovated Northwest Campus, complete with a new glass-enclosed dining hall featuring a food court style of dining. Northwest also features - for the first time since the early 1970s - six residence halls reserved for freshmen. They are joined by about 85 upper classmen who will serve as mentors and role models.
Adjacent to Northwest, North Campus residence halls now have a state-of-the-art alarm system, sprinklers, and new lighting and ceiling in the corridors.
Other dramatic changes will begin cropping up this semester, most prominently a 13-unit apartment-style housing complex between Alumni Drive and Separatist Road, and a new U-shaped residence hall that will be added to the Hilltop Complex. The two projects will add about 1,400 beds to the University's housing stock, clearing the way for enrollment management officials to build on the excitement that has brought record numbers of students to Storrs during the past three years.
Construction also began in late August on a 101-room hotel, located behind Lewis B. Rome Commons on South Campus, that will be a boon to faculty working to bring academic conferences to campus.
And, within the next few weeks, workers will begin excavating the hill at the intersection of Stadium and Hillside roads, clearing the way for a 1,500-space parking garage and a new, 53,000-square-foot building to house the UConn Co-op. Both structures are expected to be finished by May. The current mid-campus store will be razed as soon as the Co-op moves into the new building. The location will become green space and will be saved as a potential building site for the future.
Bolton Road, which runs between E.O. Smith High School and the Fine Arts complex, will be extended to Hillside Road to alleviate traffic heading to the new garage, keeping the largest volume of traffic on the perimeter of campus. Once work begins on the road, probably within the next month, it will take four months to complete.
Other projects nearing completion or about to begin include:
Next year, the pace won't slow. Work will begin in May 2001 on the first of a three-phase project to renovate and add to the Student Union. The first phase of the project will add a 500-seat movie theater, office and meeting space to the side of the building nearest to Jorgensen Auditorium. A second phase will renovate and add to the center section of the building. And the third phase, which won't begin for several years, will reconstruct and add to the building's south wing.
At about the same time, renovations will begin on either Monteith or Arjona Building, with the second building renovated during the summer of 2002. Plans call for the two buildings' exteriors and roofs to be completely replaced, while air conditioning, elevators and restrooms will be redone inside the buildings.
In Waterbury, planners are finishing creating an academic plan for the new downtown location, and design and construction of the building is expected to start next June. The 95,000-square-foot, three-story building on East Main Street should be completed by August 2002. And in Torrington, a new agricultural center will open in November.