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Plan to Construct 41 New Buildings

New building additions proposed as part of the recently approved Development Plan aim to expand academic, research and residential facilities on campus.

On Oct. 3, the Chapel Hill Town Council approved UNC's eight-year Development Plan that allows the University to initiate campus expansion. The Development Plan is the first phase of the Master Plan, a 50-year blueprint for campus growth.

While many discussions concerning the Development Plan have addressed its impact on transportation and housing, the most fundamental issue of the plan is the construction of new on-campus buildings.

Proposed building projects will add approximately 5.9 million square feet of new development to the campus landscape. In the end, a total of 41 new buildings will be constructed for academic, research and student life programs.

Academic

The Development Plan proposes several additions that will improve academic facilities and expand student resources.

A key academic addition is the science complex, the most expensive project of the Development Plan.

The three-phase project is projected to begin in March 2003 and end in September 2008. The projected budget for all phases of the science complex is approximately $187 million.

During Phase I of the project, two new sciences buildings will be erected on the existing site between Kenan Laboratories and Wilson Library.

The science buildings will provide updated facilities and additional space for basic science departments including physics, astronomy, chemistry and mathematics. The new buildings will offer undergraduate classrooms, teaching and research laboratories and a science theater.

During Phases II and III of the project, Venable Hall and the ROTC building will be demolished, and a 500-space parking deck will be constructed to replace the space eliminated by other construction projects.

A third sciences building, which will offer a combined science library and provide expanded teaching, office and research space, will be built during Phase III to replace the demolished Venable Hall. "I think what's envisioned is a tremendous positive transformation of the (site)," said Peter Krawchyk, design manager of the science complex.

Another Development Plan project, the digital multimedia instructional center music library, is another academic addition that will be built as part of the Development Plan. Construction on the $23 million multimedia center is projected to occur between March 2005 and August 2007.

The multimedia center will provide new buildings to accommodate existing space deficiencies for the UNC Music Library located in Hill Hall and will provide new space for expanding programs within the College of Arts and Sciences.

The center will include educational classrooms, faculty offices, multimedia teaching laboratories, studios and library spaces.

Some additional academic buildings proposed by the Development Plan include a global and international studies center, a building for the Institute for the Arts and Humanities and an addition to the School of Public Health.

Research

There are also a number of research facilities planned as part of the Development Plan, most of which serve to enhance the School of Medicine.

The proposed $68 million genetic medicine building, to be built on Mason Farm Road, will serve exclusively as a research facility. Construction is projected to start in July 2003 and end in January 2006.

Officials say the new research centers will provide the medical school with state-of-the-art science facilities.

The new 225,000 square foot building will be constructed east of the Environmental Protection Agency building in the research block of campus now occupied by grounds services and housing support offices.

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"We're hoping this will be a cutting-edge research building and will attract the nation's top researchers to the campus," said Masaya Konishi, design manager of the genetic medicine building.

Another proposed addition for the medical school is the medical biomolecular research building, an eight-story research facility that will be built along South Columbia Street, next to the existing Taylor Hall. Construction for the research building began in December 2000 and should end in May 2003.

The new building will offer research laboratories and support spaces, including spaces for animal research subjects.

A third proposed addition is the bioinformatics building, a six-story building that will be constructed on West Drive at the current site of the Health Affairs parking deck.

Construction for the bioinformatics building began in February 2001 and is projected to end in December 2002.

The new building will provide facilities for UNC faculty and staff to conduct dry research activities. Additional features include a 125-seat lecture hall, food service facility and a University mail room.

Student Life

Physical changes to the campus landscape also will affect student life, especially on South Campus. One of the key projects is the Ramshead Center, a multi-purpose complex that will be built between Kenan Field House and the George Watts Hill Alumni Center.

Construction for the $56 million center is projected to begin in June 2002 and end in October 2004.

The Ramshead Center complex will incorporate a 700-space parking deck with permit and hourly parking.

An outdoor plaza on the roof level of the parking deck will provide pedestrian bridges connecting the walkways between Stadium Drive and Manning Drive. "(The Ramshead Center) is meant to tie the new student housing in South Campus with the academic facilities in North Campus," said Konishi, also the design manager of the Ramshead Center.

Other features of the center include a student dining facility with seven separate eateries, a bookstore, an express grocery store and a student recreation center. The student recreation center will contain three full-length basketball courts, a fitness room, a climbing wall and a juice bar.

Other projects planned for South Campus might not have as much of a direct effect on student life.

The plan proposes an addition to the Mason Farm Ambulatory Care Service. The ambulatory center, located on Mason Farm Road, currently provides services for clinical patients, surgery and pediatrics. An addition to the ambulatory center will provide expanded space for the musculoskeletal center.

"The number of visits have been growing and we were beginning to run out of space for expanding clinical services," said Karen McCall, vice president of public affairs for UNC Health Care.

The Changing Face

As the proposed building projects are implemented, heavy construction in various parts of campus already has resulted in a transformation of the physical landscape.

"It's always hard during the construction process, especially with a lot of it going on right now," said Linda Convissor, UNC local relations coordinator.

But University officials said they hope the new additions will bring positive changes that will ultimately fulfill the goals of the Development and Master plans.

Officials are confident that new academic and research buildings will provide improved educational facilities for students and faculty, and other projects will help improve the quality of life for people on campus.

"Once the landscape is completed, many of these projects will actually help fix and improve the way the campus functions, especially with pedestrian traffic," Convissor said. "There will be a lot more connections between North and South campus, and I think these connections will help bring people together."

The City Editor can be reached at citydesk@unc.edu.

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