Oakland University Approves Plans for $65 Million in Housing, Parking, Athletics
It's a response to the university's nonstop growing enrollment — and a commitment to "thriving in the 21st century," OU president says.
Oakland University leaders received a sneak preview Tuesday of $65 million in future building projects on the campus.
Designs for a 500-bed student housing complex, a four-story parking garage and an outdoor athletic complex featuring a track and tennis courts were approved by the OU Board of Trustees during a Tuesday afternoon meeting.
Also receiving the go-ahead: construction of a new campus entrance and exit via Squirrel Road and a facilities management building.
The projects are motivated by growth: the university has seen a 37 percent increase in student enrollment over the past 15 years.
Jessica Drogowski, a student liaison to the Board of Trustees, said the new additions were things students like herself have been asking for. "I've had multiple conversations with students — these are absolutely things they would love to have," she said."
All five projects will be completed by 2014. Here's a look at each:
Student housing complex
- What: A five-story dormitory for freshmen and sophmores; it would house between 500-530 students.
- Where: Along Walton Boulevard, east of Oakland Drive on the north side of campus.
- Why: Growing enrollment has caused a need for more student housing on campus.
- Cost: $30 million
- Of note: Designs for the building show an emphasis on gathering spaces in the complex: places for students to study together and interact, said Terry Stollsteimer, associate vice president for facilities management at the university. The building would also include an honors wing, with classroom space for the university's Honors College.
- What: A four-level parking structure that includes 1,240 spaces.
- Where: On the south side of campus, off Library Drive. The structure would replace lot P-32. It would have easy access to several academic buildings on campus.
- Why: There are 19,740 students and more than 2,000 full-time employees on campus — and exactly 8,843 spots to park. "There's nowhere to park!" is a common refrain heard on campus, said John Beaghan, Vice President for Finance and Administration.
- Cost: $22.8 million. (That amounts to $18,412 per parking space.)
- Of note: This would be the second parking structure on the campus.
- What: An outdoor recreation and athletic complex with a full track, multiple fields and tennis courts.
- Where: At the corner of Pioneer and Ravine drives near the campus's existing athletic complex.
- Why: There are 25 club sports at OU and a growing interest in intramurals. Teams now must rent tennis courts, tracks and fields at area high schools and private fields; field rental costs about $100 per hour.
- Cost: $7.85 million
New campus entrance
- What: A new entrance and exit to the west side of campus.
- Where: Library Drive would be extended south, past Pioneer Drive and then west to the existing traffic signal off Squirrel Road.
- Why: To relieve a traffic congestion problem — especially at 5 p.m. when employees are leaving for the day and battling commuter traffic on Squirrel: Chrysler Corporation is just to the south.
- Cost: $1.95 million
- Of note: Trustees approved the road extension contingent on university leaders seeking help from the city of Auburn Hills and the Road Commission for Oakland County on improving traffic flow in the area.
New facilities building
- What: A new storage facility for salt, equipment and historical archives of building plans for the university. The building would also house meeting rooms and offices for facilities staff.
- Why: The existing facility, built in 1987, consists of three trailers, which are rapidly deteriorating.
- Cost: $1.75 million
Tuesday afternoon's approval of the project designs is the latest news of expansion and improvement on campus. Earlier this year, trustees approved plans for a 151-foot carillon tower on campus. In the fall, a new engineering center was dedicated. And at the start of the school year, the new Human Health Building opened.
"We believe that what southeastern Michigan and the state as a whole need most now is renewed investment in the resources that will enable us to thrive in the 21st century," stated Oakland University President Gary Russi in a news release coinciding with the Board of Trustee meeting.
"Our most valuable resources are the young people who will soon assume leadership of our collective future. We believe the investment we're making today will inspire them to work toward great successes that will undoubtedly be of tremendous benefit to all of us in years to come."
Which of the five projects are you most excited about? Tell us in the comments.