February 18, 2005

Saller sits down to discuss Master Plan with students

Provost Richard P. Saller unveiled the 2004 Campus Plan Extension to inquisitive students in the McCormick Tribune Lounge on Wednesday at 6 p.m. The event, sponsored by Student Government and Inter-House Council, served to update the college community on a 15-year construction plan, as well as parking and transportation issues. Following Saller's presentation, students were given the chance to ask questions ranging from concerns over how much student involvement was part of the process to how the plan impacts student health care.

In presenting the University's plan, Saller spoke of the goal to increase the size and improve the quality of the campus, in the area stretching from 55th to 61st Street, through the year 2020.

The plans will bring major changes to the University campus in size, function, and appearance. Construction will be mostly expansions and additions of buildings south of the Midway and west of Ellis. The map presented by Saller displayed University projects costing upwards of $20 million. The estimated cost of the improvements is $600 to $800 million over 15 years.

Saller revealed immediate plans to build a parking structure on 61st Street and Drexel and a new dormitory south of Burton-Judson. In the second stage of building south of the Quads, between 2008 and 2020, there are plans to create a center for Creative and Performing Arts, a dormitory for business school students, and a hotel, as well as plans for the academic expansion of the School of Social Service Administration, the Law School, and the Harris School of Public Policy.

The west Quads will be a center for physical and biomedical science education, as well as the hospital, with plans to renovate Searle, create a building for the University of Chicago Hospitals Pediatric Emergency Department, and add research buildings for biological and physical sciences. The University also plans to extend the Regenstein Library in the near future. By 2020, there are plans to create a new dorm adjacent to Pierce, an extension of the Smart Museum, and extensions of the Physical Sciences Division, Computer Science, Astronomy, and Astrophysics buildings.

Saller views these changes as necessary for the development of the University. "There is every reason to think we'll need more space," he said, citing the need to improve the quality of student life, expand research facilities, and provide more single rooms in the hospital and dormitories. Saller explained that the University has a history of adding two million square feet per decade, and that the two to three million square feet encompassed in the new plan are a continuation of this trend. However, he stressed the flexibility of the plans that stretches to 2020, stating that "undoubtedly there will be changes."

The University currently has 20 percent less square feet per capita than other elite private institutions, according to Saller, which may be due to a "tradition of investing more in faculty and students, and less in facilities and staff" and a smaller endowment than that of other universities, such as Harvard and Princeton.

In the process of coming up with the master plan, the University hired the Ayers Saint Gross firm, talked to student services, administration members, the dean, representatives of the library, professional schools, sciences, and lab schools, and went through workshops to test ideas, according to Saller.

Saller said that there is currently "no plan of increasing the student body," but there will be an increase in staff and hospital patients.

Following Saller's speech, Elaine Lockwood-Bean, Associate Vice-President of Facilities Service, announced the possibility of hiring a transportation administrator. The 2020 plans could create a 1,500 parking space-deficit, which may be helped by a park and ride system where people leave their cars in a parking structure and take a shuttle bus to campus. Lockwood-Bean mentioned increasing bike usage on campus through additional bike racks and a guaranteed-ride-home system.