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New campus plan to update existing buildings

The construction outside Halas and Gentile will be replaced this year by a new quad and playing field.
The construction outside Halas and Gentile will be replaced this year by a new quad and playing field.
The construction outside Halas and Gentile will be replaced this year by a new quad and playing field.
The PHOENIX/Elizabeth Romanski

Loyola’s new 10-year campus plan leaves expansion in the past to focus on refining existing buildings and land.

In 2004, the university released an extensive 10-year plan with the goal of “building the campus to be a modern university,” said Jennifer Clark, associate vice president for campus and community planning.

During the past 10 years, the university has made headway on this plan with the building of several new facilities and residence halls including the Information Commons, Cuneo Hall, Damen Student Center, Norville Athletic Center, de Nobili Hall and San Francisco Hall. Loyola also purchased several buildings and expanded significantly south down Kenmore and Winthrop avenues. According to Clark, the majority of the past decade’s expansion was due to the size of the campus being inadequate and outdated.

On March 7, the university published its newest campus plan draft for 2014-2024.

“The next 10 years is less about heavy impact building,” Clark said. “We have no plans to keep growing.”

Clark said the goal of the campus plan is to make the campus a better place for students to live.

But, for many Ramblers, the ongoing construction on the Lake Shore Campus has led to mixed feelings about Loyola’s continued revamping.

“I think the campus will look nice 10 years down the line, but I think it looks nice now,” said Connie Leberis, 21, a senior finance major. “I think there is other stuff they could budget the money for somewhere else, like classes.”

Freshman Alex Batt, 18, an accounting major, said that while he may not have experienced as much construction as upperclassmen, he thinks that in the long run it will provide for a nicer campus.

“The construction and revamping of campus may not have been necessary, but it will certainly help attract many more students to Loyola once it’s finished,” Batt said.“No student wants to pay the amount of tuition that we pay to have outdated buildings, so in that sense it is necessary.”

Danielle Knurowski, 19, a health systems management major, said while she feels some of the improvements are beneficial to students, she also thinks some are unnecessary and more for show.

Similar to the 2004 process, Clark said this year’s campus plan began with reviewing Loyola’s past progress and gathering new research through focus groups and department meetings. The resulting published draft will be used to garner feedback and stimulate additional discussion before finalizing the campus plan. This feedback is obtained through meetings and focus groups with students, faculty, staff and community members. Clark said students, faculty and staff are encouraged to review the draft and provide opinions, but the community relations department will also consider responses from the Rogers Park community.

“We work hand in glove with the neighborhood,” Clark said. “Most students are gone after four years. So, it is really the residents who are here for 20 to 30 years who are extremely important to that decision making.”

Clark said they reach out to local residents in a number of ways. First, Loyola has a Lake Shore Campus Advisory Council that is made up of neighbors, organizations, business owners and elected officials. Other ways Clark reaches out to the neighborhood is through a monthly newsletter–the Loyola Neighborhood News–an e-newsletter and through articles sent out in conjunction with DNA Info, a Chicago neighborhood news source.  Clark said that when a specific project is being worked on, additional outreach is conducted.

“When Loyola was proposing to close Kenmore Avenue permanently, I hosted 14 small group community meetings in advance of the official development meeting,” Clark said. “And, Loyola changed the plans for Kenmore significantly as a result of community feedback.”

While the new draft — which can be accessed on Loyola’s community relations page, which can be accessed by visiting luc.edu and searching community relations — doesn’t include large-scale building or expansion plans, it does propose to transform many existing spaces on campus.

Some of the changes, Clark said, included adding a bike lane, installing speed bumps in the alleys, re-timing the traffic lights on Sheridan Road and adding more street lamps.

Some of the remodeling in the plan includes: creating a new athletic practice space, establishing a campus perimeter, renovating Cudahy Library and replacing the Centennial Forum Student Union (CFSU) with practice courts or another administrative building.

According to the campus plan, the proposal for a new athletic space is solely to used by Loyola sports teams, as currently most sports practices occur in Gentile Arena. As this is the first draft of the plan, it proposes several  options to create more practice space. One option would be to create a lease agreement with the Edgewater Armory on North Broadway Avenue and use that for practice space. Another option is to renovate Halas’s recreational courts to be used for the sports teams. Or, another potential option is to replace the CFSU with an athletic building that will house two basketball or volleyball courts.

Clark said that many students indicated the need for a more distinctive campus perimeter, as they feel there are no clear markers to where the campus ends. The campus plan addresses this by proposing more boundary and campus signs, fences and gateways or planting trees and planters to act as boundaries.

The renovation to CFSU will not directly affect those living in Mertz. If CFSU is to be completely demolish,  the only effects to Mertz would be renovating the entry way.

Other buildings and areas under consideration to renovate are Dumbach Hall, Cudahy Science, and Flanner Hall, according to the campus plan. In addition, the community relations department is also considering building a field house and a hotel and erecting more memorials around campus.

The field house construction would be for a 200-meter track and other practice fields and would help address the want for additional practice space as mentioned earlier and the memorials would be either for commemorating and honoring past Loyolans or simply for aesthetic appeal.​

Although the majority of the plans are designed to be long-term over a 10-year horizon, Clark said several revitalization projects are expected to begin and end in 2014.

Within the next few months, Clark said construction will begin on Kenmore Avenue to turn it into an open park and walk space for students. Over the summer, the west quad — near Halas and Gentile — will be transformed into a larger quad space and playing field, with a completion date in fall 2014. Additionally, Clark said a new driveway will be created for the shuttle buses and will also be completed by the fall.

“What we have done over the past 10 year has created the kind of university [students] want to go to,” Clark said. “What we are going to be doing over the next [10] years is making it the kind of place they want to be.”

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