Proposed changes to Central Michigan University’s campus master plan could mean major overhauls for both Warriner Mall and the to-be-constructed Biosciences Building.
The proposed design changes would create space for a future bike trail, and align more ideally with the master plan.
“It creates uniformity across campus,” said Peter Sechler, principal designer for AECOM Technology Corp. “With this change, (the Biosciences Building) is now the same size of Dow Building, the Education building and several other buildings across campus.”
CMU officials hosted a four-day open forum with the Florida-based contractor AECOM to discuss the proposed changes to the master plan’s landscaping and way-finding designs. The forums also allowed community input into the designs.
AECOM was paid $310,000 for their assistance with the forums.
Both the intangible Biosciences Building and the Warriner Mall area, located outside Warriner Hall, were selected as test models for the forums, and will serve as templates for the entire master plan.
In both cases, the proposed changes were significant.
For the Biosciences Building, which is scheduled to start construction this summer and finish in December 2016, the most significant proposal is to lower the building four feet into the ground and shift the building 20 feet to the east.
The move could be expensive though, adding to the project’s $95 million budget, though Steve Lawrence, vice president of Facilities Management, said an estimated cost of all the changes would not be finalized until AECOM completed its work in June.
Shifting the Biosciences Building 20 feet to the East would force the university to eliminate Calumet Court. The university would also have to create another road in the process.
Lawrence said CMU is sampling soil at the proposed location to make sure the ground can support such a heavy structure.
“The building is so extremely heavy,” he said. “The soil can be very diverse; we want to make darn sure what we have there is suitable.”
Other changes, including the creation of plaza spaces in the entrance ways, will make the building up to date with Mount Pleasant fire and emergency requirements.
The Warriner Mall area will be given a new landscape outlay. Trees planted in front of Warriner Hall could be removed and relocated to the side of the park area, giving passersby a clear view of the building. New grass will also be planted in the open area.
Sechler said the changes are necessary and could be inexpensive.
“I don’t want to undersell this and say it can be fixed on a dime,” Sechler said, “but we’re talking about moving trees, planting new grass and constructing new banners and entry ways.”
Tony Voisin, assistant vice president for Student Affairs, was enthusiastic while looking at the drawings for the proposed changes.
“For me, having been here for 30 years, I was a student, (these changes represent) who we’ve always wanted to be,” he said. “That visual impact. It’s so beautiful. It’s so powerful, for visiting students, alumni, it opens up what we always thought was there.”