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  March 15, 2004

New Buildings, Open Space
Campus Master Plan

A new draft master plan for the Storrs campus calls for environmentally friendly buildings, a third garage, and an undeveloped East Campus, and identifies possible locations for new buildings.

The plan, an update to the UConn 2000 master plan, will be finalized later this spring and will guide 21st Century UConn, the $1.3 billion program that begins in July and overlaps UConn 2000 for one year.

The preliminary plan, presented to the Master Plan Advisory Committee and to the community during two separate meetings last month, suggests continued building in the campus core, with quads between buildings and preserves undeveloped vistas and lawns near Beach Hall and on the east side of Route 195.

In the core, the planners suggested locations for a number of new structures, including two academic buildings - one on the current site of Monteith and the other at the site of the former UConn Co-op. The proposed buildings would replace Arjona and Monteith, which front Mirror Lake.

Steven Troost of JJR of Ann Arbor, Mich., said the planners have taken care to ensure that South Campus will retain excellent views and that any building on Mirror Lake will offer a transition from open space and the water view to the more densely built core campus.

A new building to house Student Health Services, the planners said, should be built across from the North Garage, where parking and ambulance access could be assured. A new garage should be constructed on what is now S lot, adjacent to South Campus and the Fine Arts complex. The garage would serve people attending conferences at the Nathan Hale Inn and South Campus, as well as events at the Fine Arts complex.

The planners offered several suggestions for locating a possible new athletic facility, including the site of the former football stadium, a site near W lot, and a site on North Hillside Road between the entrance to Charter Oak Apartments and the warehouse. The 180,000-square-foot student recreation center will be mostly on one floor and will have outdoor fields surrounding it. A final site will be chosen this summer, Troost said.

Troost said a preliminary study of interior space suggests that there are not enough classrooms on campus. The study will be completed later this spring, and the findings will be incorporated into the final plan, he said.

Other improvements needed at the Storrs campus include better crosswalks on North Eagleville Road and at Hillside and Stadium Road, said Barbara Chance of Chance Associates of Philadelphia, which is planning parking and transportation needs. Improvements will include landscaping and lighting to deter people from crossing between crosswalks and to cue drivers that pedestrians may be stepping off the curb.

A traffic light will be placed at Hillside and Stadium Roads soon, she said, but if that does not solve traffic and pedestrian problems there, the planners may propose closing part of Hillside Road during part of the day. Another way to alleviate congestion would be to have South Garage accessible from North Eagleville Road for yearly garage parkers using a key card, Chance said. She also has recommended improved pathway lighting, and is undertaking a "wayfinding study" to determine how to direct people from the garages to their desired locations.

Chance said bus ridership has more than doubled since 1998, leading the Federal Transit Administration to recognize UConn as a model for the region. The transit system on campus, she said, is ranked with those of Birmingham, Ala., Seattle, Wash., and Knoxville, Tenn., for the number of riders.

The planners also suggested that UConn adopt "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design" (LEED) standards developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

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