By Kyeland Jackson —
U of L’s $80 million endeavor is almost done, promising new spaces for students and faculty.
U of L Interim President Greg Postel spoke of the academic building, a four-story, $80 million construction, in a “topping out” ceremony Friday. The ceremony installs the highest beam on a construction.
Incoming Student Government Association President Vishnu Tirumala said the building was “nothing short of transformative,” and Postel said it will be vital to U of L.
“It will provide the learning environment and the related services that will help drive our students’ success, both while they are undergraduates and after they have moved on to careers, families and positions of leadership in the community,” Postel said.
The 150,000 square foot building boasts group study areas, teacher learning spaces, more than two dozen classrooms and more. It will also host a program to improve faculty experience and teaching, partnering with the university’s Career Development Center. U of L asked Kentucky fund the building in 2011, earning that funding in 2014. Tirumala says the building represents work by the SGA and U of L.
“The building will serve as a home for hundreds of classes as well as a student success center,” Tirumala said. “I’m looking forward to working with the university leadership on finalizing the construction over the next year.”
The academic building will be built by Whittenberg Construction on the site of Crawford Gym, which was built in the 1960’s. This isn’t the first project Whittenberg has built for U of L, as the company completed the U of L Natatorium too. That a 41,000 square foot building valued at almost $10 million.
The academic building could be the biggest education project the company has managed, with a $40 million building by Shelby County Schools being the closest valued project. Reportedly, the building fixes a drastic shortage in classroom space which Kentucky’s Council on Postsecondary Education cited. Space could remain an issue, as the university plans to increase yearly enrollment by 8,000 students eventually. Enrollment numbers failed expectations for this upcoming year, leading to a $6 million deficit. The university expects a hiring freeze, state funds and other revenue will balance any future deficits.
The building is expected to open fall 2018.
Photos courtesy of the University of Louisville