Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the Louisiana Economic Development grant during an event Friday that celebrated Waitr’s new downtown headquarters.
Over the past decade or so, construction has boomed at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. New buildings like Moody Hall and Legacy Park Apartments pepper the campus while a new home for the Computer Science Department is currently under construction.
Combine this expanding territory with a growing student body and soon you'll see why it's no wonder UL Lafayette is facing a monumental space problem.
Where does the university go (or grow) from here? Virtually landlocked, not much space is available on campus and future growth is inevitable.
“ We haven't seen this type of growth since the 1950s when 13 buildings were constructed,” said Bill Crist, UL Lafayette's Physical Plant director.
The university's current Capital Outlay plan will squeeze available space even tighter.
A new three-story building for Computer Science and the Center for Advanced Computer Studies is being constructed where McNaspy Stadium once stood. The $7.5 million structure will have 15,000 square feet for classrooms, auditoriums and conference rooms on each floor.
A proposed annex of Fletcher Hall to accommodate the growing College of the Arts could take up the remaining space near the new Computer Science building. “Future plans include an art and architecture annex building on that same piece of property which will probably fill in that portion of campus,” said Crist.
Burke-Hawthorne Hall will also be enlarged and renovated. A two-story wing will be built between Burke-Hawthorne and Judice-Rickels halls, taking up available space in that location. Another one-story wing will be added to the backstage area of the Burke Theater in the direction of the Student Union.
In 2002, students voted to pay an extra $25 per fall and spring semester to generate $4.98 million for a 400-space parking garage at the corner of St. Mary Boulevard and Taft Street. The project will cover most of the green space where the marching band practices. A small portion will remain as a practice field.
The biggest upcoming project is the renovation and possible expansion of the Student Union on McKinley Street. This project will fill in the green space between McLaurin Gym and Guillory Hall. According to Crist, Saucier Clinic will be demolished and incorporated into the Student Union. “We will reclaim some green space by taking down Coronna and Olivier halls, thus opening Hebrard Boulevard to Cypress Lake and the Moody Annex,” said Crist.
The entire $31 million project will be financed through student assessed fees and will involve about 50,000 square feet.
One project completed in the last several years includes Legacy Park Apartments. Because of the convenience and popularity of apartment-style living on the main campus, Legacy now stands at capacity. To meet competition from other state schools, additional Legacy-type housing is needed. Future plans call for expansion.
Also, a 2,200-square-foot percussion wing was added to Angelle Hall for the Music Department and the Pride of Acadiana Marching Band.
The Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum on St. Mary Boulevard opened in 2002, as did a new day care center, which can accommodate about 100 children.
In the past, the university has tried to acquire land close to campus to make room for expansion. Constructing academic buildings away from the main campus creates major inconveniences for students.
“ Any student that has to leave the main campus to attend Health and P.E. classes in Bourgeois Hall can attest to the inconvenience a disconnected campus presents,” said Crist .
Twice, university officials tried (to no avail) to trade land with the city for Girard Park. The offer still stands.
“ There are only a few areas of expansion on this campus and the future projects will fill in those limited growth areas, leaving us in a landlocked situation,” said Crist. “It is important to our students that future academic, housing and support facilities be located as close to the main campus as possible and with that in mind, it is important for UL Lafayette to find areas to expand the main campus.”