KBOR approves WSU master plan to demolish, add buildings on campus

Allison Campbell / The Sunflower

A newly approved master plan for Wichita State University will see the 128-year-old campus undergo major changes. While tentative and likely to change, dozens of buildings are currently expected to undergo renovations or consolidations, with several buildings slated to be demolished or built.

The Kansas Board of Regents requires the universities it governs to present a master plan every 10 years to encourage them to grow and adapt to the needs of students, faculty and staff. Emily Patterson, the executive director of facilities planning, assisted with constructing the master plan in 2014 and presented the approved 2024-2034 plan to the Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) Thursday afternoon.

Patterson divided the campus and the surrounding area into five different sections, each with its own unique qualities and intended functions.

‘Academic Core’: Center of campus

The “Academic Core” includes facilities near the heart of campus, including the Rhatigan Student Center, Ablah Library, the Heskett Center and campus housing. This area houses recreational facilities, as well as classrooms and offices for liberal arts and sciences programs. Of all the sections, the academic core will undergo the most construction.

Buildings suggested for demolition in the academic core:

  • Hubbard Hall
  • Heskett Center
  • Wichita State Police Department
  • Wichita State Connect
  • Grace Wilkie Hall
  • Neff Hall
  • Parking Services Building
  • Gaddis Physical Plant Complex
  • Central Receiving and Warehouse

Buildings to be constructed in the academic core:

  • Interdisciplinary Academic Building
  • A recreation center
  • A community building
  • Partnership building
  • Two academic research buildings
  • Physical Plant Complex
  • A parking garage to be built on the northern half of preexisting Lot 5

Buildings to undergo substantial renovations in the academic core:

  • Jabara Hall
  • Lindquist Hall
  • Ablah Library
  • Media Resource Center

Consolidating space will yield more room for recreational and hangout spaces on campus, especially within this core. Patterson said it will also make the campus more accessible by enhancing pedestrian and car traffic paths.

‘Historic District’: West end of campus

The established “historic district” of campus includes Fiske Hall, the oldest building on campus, as well as the Duerksen Fine Arts Center and Wilner Auditorium.

Buildings suggested for demolition in the historic district:

  • Wilner Auditorium

Buildings to be constructed in the historic district:

  • Academic art hall

Buildings to undergo substantial renovations in the historic district:

  • Henrion Hall
  • McKnight Art Center
  • McKinley Hall

University President Richard Muma said that while Wilner has “a lot of deep-seated memories for people,” the cost of repairing historic buildings like Wilner Auditorium and Hubbard Hall would exceed the cost of building new, more useful facilities.

‘Athletic District’: Stadiums, training facilities and all things athletics

The athletic district comprises the north and northwestern portions of campus and houses the playing fields and training facilities for Shocker basketball, baseball and softball teams. As a result, no sports-related facilities are slated for demolition, but several are scheduled to be built or expanded.

Buildings suggested for demolition in the athletic district:

  • Child Development Center

Buildings to be constructed in the athletic district:

  • Indoor track facility or tennis facility
  • University stadium
  • A building addition to Koch Arena
  • An upgraded portion of Wilkins Stadium

Innovation Campus: Creating an “engine for innovation”

An area of relatively new buildings, the innovation campus will subsequently not see any buildings demolished.

Buildings to be constructed in Innovation Campus:

  • A parking garage to be built on preexisting parking lot spaces
  • Several partnership buildings
  • A mixed-use and assembly building

17th Street Gateway: South of campus

New initiatives on the south part of campus will see the addition of a new university housing complex as well as modifications made in collaboration with the city of Wichita to enhance Fairmount Park.

Buildings suggested for demolition in the 17th Street Gateway district:

  • Brennan Hall I
  • Brennan Hall II
  • Brennan Hall III
  • Sheldon Coleman Tennis Complex

Buildings to be constructed in the 17th Street Gateway district:

  • University village, which could include several businesses
  • Five Partnership and mixed-use buildings
  • A community center in Fairmount Park
  • Child Development Center

Area to undergo substantial renovations in the 17th Street Gateway district:

  • Fairmount Park

Gensler, a San Francisco-based architectural company, has been hired by Wichita State to implement the plan. Patterson and Muma did not provide an estimate as to how much fulfilling the master plan would cost, but Muma said that building additions to the Innovation Campus could be developed privately.

In a virtual plan update in March, Patterson said the university hopes to receive $5.5 to $6 million in educational building fund money from the state Legislature, which would go toward deferred maintenance.

During the same meeting, Provost Shirley Lefever said that “revisions will be made” to the plan as it is executed, and Patterson reiterated during the KBOR meeting that much is subject to change. And while it is not clear when these alterations to campus will begin, Brennan Hall I, II, and III and Neff Hall have already been approved for demolition, and progress continues to be made on the Cessna Stadium renovations, which are anticipated to be complete by 2026.

The complete master plan presentation can be viewed from the KBOR YouTube.

This article was republished here with the permission of: The Sunflower