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Kent State Previews $170 Million in Campus Renovations

Students, staff treated to preview of construction planned during next 3 to 4 years

Officials at Kent State University talked about the and plans during an open house held on the Kent campus Wednesday morning.

"The next few years you will see our campuses transformed," Kent State President Lester Lefton told crowds during two brief speeches Wednesday. "We are at the center of a transformation that is going to change Kent, Kent State, and Portage County for the next 100 years."

Placards and huge banners filled the Kent State Student Center Ballroom to give students, faculty and staff a preview of the millions in dollars of construction planned for the next four to five years.

University trustees voted in March to approve issuing $170 million in bonds to pay for all the renovations, but absent at the time were detailed plans about what new buildings would be built or existing structures renovated how and when. In September, trustees will vote on the more detailed plans that were previewed Wednesday.

Among the details confirmed Wednesday were plans for a new, $40 million College of Architecture and Environmental Design building and plans for a new technology center to house the College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology.

"Those are the two brand new structures," said Tom Euclide, Kent State's associate vice president for facilities planning and operation. "We have plans for a full renovation of the art program to the point it will almost look like a brand new building."

Euclide said the art program's primary facilities, Van Deusen Hall, the Art Annex and the Art Building, all will see some serious upgrades.

The new technology building will stand near the nursing facility in Kent State's sciences complex, whereas the new architecture building will stand on the Esplanade near downtown. Another 50,000 square feet of technology space will be added to campus as well.

Less obvious to the public, almost every building on campus will get either new roofs, windows, lighting, heating, air conditioning and ventilation and other basic utilities to improve energy efficiency.

Construction on campus will be almost continuous during the next four years as spaces are renovated or upgraded, Euclide said. That work will include shuffling faculty, staff and students around campus as certain spaces are worked on.

"It's going to be painful to live through, but the rewards are going to be great," Euclide said.

The preview Wednesday also included previously approved plans or facilities already built at the university's eight regional campuses. The preview also included information about downtown Kent's more than $100 million in redevelopment projects, which Kent State officials partnered with city officials on to make them happen.

Lefton likened the university's role in construction across the reason to a political lever.

"We are becoming a fulcrum that is spurring hundreds of millions of dollars of economic development," he said.

Laurel Myers Hurst August 30, 2012 at 12:57 PM
"Lefton likened the university's role in construction across the reason to a political lever." What?
Jeff Mittiga August 30, 2012 at 10:34 PM
The KSU campus is not really in need of this type of transformation. The first concern should be providing a quality education for the students at an affordable cost. Do they expect KSU students to take out astronomical student loan amounts to pay for this? What happens when the bubble bursts on this student loan debt situation?
William B Budner ESQ. August 30, 2012 at 11:13 PM
campus definitely needs a major upgrade on some of these buildings to compete in the 21st century college world. better campus, better education, better students.

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