Univ. of Missouri looks to improve Columbia campus - KMOV.com

Univ. of Missouri looks to improve Columbia campus

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Stymied by repeated, unsuccessful efforts to get state money for new buildings, the University of Missouri's flagship campus unveiled a new plan Thursday that focuses on fixing up what's already there.

The 2010 master plan -- a campus blueprint for the ensuing decades -- includes plans for enhanced landscaping and strengthened connections between the campus and surrounding parts of the city. Missouri's shaky economy has made it difficult for the school to get money for new construction, such as a replacement for the aging Ellis Fischel Cancer Center in north Columbia.

"We still have some ideas for expansion," Chancellor Brady Deaton said. "But there's also a need to preserve what we have."

State lawmakers approved in 2007 a plan by former Gov. Matt Blunt to use $350 million from the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority to support campus building projects, including the $31.2 million Ellis Fischel project. Gov. Jay Nixon reversed course in early 2009, after the loan authority was unable to make all of its scheduled payments toward the plan.

The latest master plan signals a shift in emphasis toward a sustainable campus marked by more compact development, planner Perry Chapman said.

"We're talking about being much more prudent in the way every square foot of land on the campus is used," he said.

The blueprint calls for an East Campus arboretum, more green spaces and a continued commitment to public spaces at the land-grant university.

"Mizzou is a civic place. It's a public place," Chapman said.

Renovations are needed at 34 campus buildings, not accounting for two upcoming renovations that include repairs planned in the summer of 2011 at Switzer Hall. The building dates to 1871 and is the oldest on campus other than the chancellor's residence.

The shift in focus doesn't mean new construction will end, Chapman and Deaton insisted. Campus construction in recent years included such high-profile projects as the Mizzou Arena, the Reynolds Journalism Institute and the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center.

Arts boosters still hope to build a $100 million, five-story performing arts center with a 1,000-seat concert hall and 350-seat recital hall.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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