By Amando Dominick
Although Baylor only played host to a fraction of the total student body during the summer, the campus bustled with activity- construction workers renovating, building and remodeling.
On Nov. 4, 2011, the Baylor Board of Regents approved a $120 million budget for improvements around campus. Construction, which began during the 2012 spring semester, includes the building of the new East Village Residential Community, revonation of the Marrs McLean Science Building, and Phase 2 in the construction of the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC).
The East Village Project is a $70 million, 238,715 square-foot initiative. Jeff Doyle, Dean for Student Learning and Engagement, said the residential building will have a total of 701 beds available and that it is scheduled to open in August 2013. East Village, located on Bagby Avenue, will utilize the already-constructed East Campus parking facility.
Doyle said East Village will feature three different types of rooms for students: a four-bedroom, two-bathroom suite intended for freshmen; a semi-suite; and apartment-style rooms complete with full kitchens geared toward upperclassmen. In addition to housing dorms, Doyle said East Village will include several half-court basketball courts and several volleyball courts. East Village will also contain study rooms, lounge areas, staff housing and a two-story dining hall. Following the opening of the East Village Dining Hall, Doyle said that the university plans to cease operation of the Collins Dining Hall permanently.
The Science and Health Living Learning Community and the Engineering and Computer Science Residential College will make their homes in East Village. Living Learning Communities are residential communities organized by academic discipline.
“The science and health LLC will be crucial because as much as a third of Baylor’s entering freshmen class are science or health majors,” Doyle said.
The East Village project will serve Baylor’s imperative to create a ‘truly residential campus’ – a goal of Baylor’s Strategic Vision 2012, which was replaced this year by Pro Futuris.
Marrs McLean Science building is undergoing construction as well. Workers have stripped the outside of the building and are in the process of rebricking the exterior walls.
Following additional interior renovations, Marrs McLean will house Baylor’s entire School of Education, including the departments of curriculum and instruction, educational psychology and educational administration, which were previously located in Burleson Hall and the Draper Academic Building. The departments of anthropology and statistics, already located in Marrs McLean, will receive additional space. The building’s large, 350-seat classroom will also be updated.
The Baylor Research Innovation Collaborative is also moving forward: Phase 2 in its construction began in the spring. Once the General Tire factory, the former manufacturing plant located on South Loop Drive will undergo extensive renovations in order to become a research facility.
Truell Hyde, Vice Provost for Research, said that the running cost of Phases 1 and 2 is currently $49.88 million. Baylor has so far produced $31.54 million of the total. Other funds have been provided by the State of Texas, McLennan County, the Cities of Waco and Bellmead, Texas State Technical College, the CooperFoundation and the Waco Foundation. Despite the cost, Hyde said, the university as a whole will benefit from the project.
“To be one of the best in the world, you have to look at the metrics they use to decide what order to put those universities in, and one of those primary metrics is research,” said Hyde.
“To put it bluntly,” he added, “the [BRIC] will impact faculty and students from all of engineering and science and mathematics. Period.”
Students, Hyde said, will also benefit from Baylor’s push toward research as it will increase the prestige of the university.
“As an alum, that’s what you want. You certainly don’t want your university going backwards and suddenly your degree isn’t worth what you paid for it,” he added.
Hyde said the first part of Phase 2, which will allow Baylor to move 100 people into the facility to begin working, is scheduled to be completed by the first quarter of 2013.
Also undergoing construction is the Baylor Sciences Building.
Lori Fogleman, Director of Media Communications, explained that the work on the building is to repair cracks in the columns standing in front of the building. Fogleman said two things were important to consider in the construction at the Sciences Building: that work on the columns is purely aesthetic and the building does not rely on the column for more support and the work will be done at no cost to the university.
“[It was] an aesthetic problem. They did not look good,” Fogleman said.
“Faulty work was done by a subcontractor,” Fogleman added, “because that subcontractor is now bankrupt, the cost is split between manufacturers insurance and Baylor’s construction company, The Beck Group.”
Construction is scheduled to be completed before classes start.
In order to facilitate the construction, several parking lots streets, including Third Street, Speight Avenue and Parking Lot 42, which services the Sid Richardson Buiding, and portions of Lot 50, which services the Goebel Building and Russell Gymnasium, have been amended or closed, but are scheduled to reopen before the fall semester begins.