Facilities personnel reflect back on latest master plan as it draws to an end

Facilities personnel reflect back on latest master plan as it draws to an end

Construction outside Clark Hall in Clark Park and Eagle Annual Lot 27 expands Clark Park to include more space for student activities. The construction removed part of Lot 27 for the park expansion. The University of North Texas master plan includes new buildings, renovated spaces, and decreased parking. Jake King

Facilities personnel reflect back on latest master plan as it draws to an end
February 02
14:18 2017

The University of North Texas’ current master plan will be renewed at the end of this year. The latest master plan in use is the 2013 updated version. The plan outlines the university’s objectives and provides a rough sketch of how these will be met. As stated in the 2013 master plan, UNT follows “four ‘bold’ goals aimed at helping UNT provide the best education.”

Former UNT President V. Lane Rawlins emphasized in the 2013 master plan that “unless the first goal – to create the best undergraduate experience – was achieved, the other three would remain elusive.” To focus efforts on this goal, five qualities to expand on in physical aspects of campus were strategized and implemented throughout the years.

The first quality seeks to preserve a “beautiful campus with green open spaces and trees.” David Reynolds, associate vice president of UNT facilities, expresses how the campus’ natural landscape takes priority in planning.

“Maintaining the green nature of the campus is something we factor into all of our projects,” said Reynolds. “With the new College of Visual Arts and Design building, they’ll be fencing off the big oak trees along Welch Street to protect them. That’s a conscious part of the design: to preserve those bigger trees.”

The second quality aims to improve pedestrian settings, calling for a pedestrian path to be built across campus. Construction currently underway in Clark Park will serve as a direct connection from the Gateway Center to Highland Street.

“If you’re a pedestrian walking from Gateway into Clark Park, you’ll stay on the same elevation when you cross the street,” said Reynolds. “The cars will actually have to drive up on a ramp and a table, then back down on a ramp.”

However, this project is taking longer than expected because of the path to be built across Maple Street. Reynolds explains that this is due to final coordination with the city of Denton, from which UNT must acquire permits. More improvements to the pathway are still pending.

“At some point, there will be more upgrades to Highland Street,” said Reynolds. “The Library Mall already functions as part of the path, but there’ll be more improvements.”

The next quality looks to reinforce strong academic programs which are supported by quality facilities. Helen Bailey, Director of Facilities Planning, Design, and Construction, lists completed renovations to different buildings on campus, such as Marquis Hall and the Science Research Building, as examples of projects undertaken to complete this goal. She also evaluates the success of the new Student Union, which officially opened last spring semester.

“If you measure its success on being a destination for the students, it’s most certainly a success,” said Bailey. “It was disruptive to the campus community to build something right in the heart of campus, but the end result was positive. I think it’s made the campus look better and it’s obviously loved by students.”

The succeeding quality stresses vibrant student life with housing options. The 2013 plan called for 9,653 beds to be available on campus, but Reynolds says that number falls short.

“Currently, we have a little over 6,200 beds on campus,” said Reynolds. “We’ll add another 500 with this new residence hall. The projection was for even more than that.”

Reynolds gauges the success of the newest addition to housing, Rawlins Hall.

“That seems to be a very successful residence hall,” said Reynolds. “The layout looks very similar to what the master plan predicted for that site. The goal was to get that done in time for students to move in by August 15 and it was right to the wire.”

The last quality the master plan calls for is commitment to sustainability. Reynolds states that this is addressed through solar panels built to power the Student Union and wind turbines that give energy for the Eagle Point power grid. He also says that work with the master plan is never finished, rather it is a continual process that is always improved upon over the years.

“There’s always projections that we are looking to improve and expand in the future,” said Bailey.

Overseen by UNT system facilities staff, the revision process of the current master plan is set to begin late 2017 for implementation the following year.

Featured Image: Construction outside Clark Hall in Clark Park and Eagle Annual Lot 27 expands Clark Park to include more space for student activities. The construction removed part of Lot 27 for the park expansion. The University of North Texas master plan includes new buildings, renovated spaces, and decreased parking. Jake King

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Celeste Gracia

Celeste Gracia

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