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Rothwell Student Center Planning Committee
QUESTIONS FOR [...] ARCHITECTS.
June 8, 2004
Items 1 through 4 by various UWS students.
Item 5 by Kevin Korpela, UWS Graduate Student
RSC Planning Committee Questions for [...] Architects [...]
Campus Presentation – Tuesday, June 8th, 2004
1. [UWS Student #1]
My main question that I would like to know from Jan is in all of his other designing of student funded building projects, was he ever/never charged with asking students what they wanted to PAY for as well. I wonder if his other projects began with a set budget to work within and then created a project within those parameters.
2. [UWS Student #2]
In Approach 1, I am assuming the $8-10 million includes replacement of all air handling units and the addition of central air conditioning in a new mechanical room. What is the total cost for this portion of the estimate? Is it mandatory? If not, could we repair units as needed, install digital controls on all and forego air? Would cost savings be enough to pay for dining service renovation?
3. [UWS Student #3]
When does installation of a new fire suppression system and total compliance to ADA become mandatory? % of existing square feet renovated? Is there a way to stay below that number and achieve our goals? What types of work are included in making the calculations for compliance - roof and window replacement, exterior wall repair, new wiring, new plumbing, etc.?
4. [UWS Student #4]
What kinds of programming components will the building support? Will there be features such as a pizza place, entertainment venue, game room?
5. [UWS Student #5, Kevin Korpela]
RSC COMMITTEE: [Ten] Master Plan Questions for the Architect, June 1, 2004 by Kevin Korpela
A new or updated student center that is bright, warm, and promotes better communication and interaction would be a very good addition and a needed resource to UW-Superior and the City of Superior. In addition, UWS advocates a liberal arts education. Liberal arts usually help people become more open to options and more likely to solve problems by understanding, recognizing, and working with the past when making decisions to provide for the future. The review of the RSC master plan was based on these notions. Listed below are comments and questions for the Architect or UW Staff:
1) AFFORDABLE TUITION: The proposed construction would be funded by students, but I do not recall student-funding mentioned in master plan. Please explain why student-funding was not noted?
It’s my understanding that the architect has designed student centers at many UW campuses, so did students ask questions about tuition and sources for funding at other campuses?
If students asked questions about affordable tuition at other UW campuses, then please explain why this type of information was not noted or referenced in this master plan?
Did the student surveys conducted by the architect mention that new construction or renovation would be funded primarily if not entirely by student fees? If it was not mentioned, please explain why?
In addition to asking questions suggesting that new sun gardens and fireplaces are good features for a student center in this climate, did the survey mention the financial impact that sun gardens and fireplaces would have on tuition increases?
And if not, why was the funding source ignored? What were the student survey responses regarding tuition increases?
Did students at other campuses apply unique methods to help offset the financial burden on their tuition? Could these methods be applied to the UWS campus?
2) STATE-OF-THE-ART: The phrase “state-of-the-art” was used only twice in the master plan, but when the architect used the phrase it was in reference only to a new building. This is a misleading statement. State-of-the-art is a phrase that can be applied even to the $7-9 million renovation (dollars noted from the master plan), because the infrastructure replacement (mechanical, plumbing, electrical, ADA, fire protection) would be state-of-the-art. The replacement would include the most modern equipment that’s available at that moment based on the client’s goals, needs, and budget.
Please comment on the reason for using the phrase “state-of-the-art” in reference only to a new building when the existing RSC could also be renewed as a “state-of-the-art” building?
3) THREE OPTIONS WITH THREE DISTINCT PRICES: Two of the three approaches described on page 3 of the Executive Summary are essentially the same price. In this regard, the previous committee may have made the appropriate choice in choosing the new building versus the renovation. However, providing three different approaches with three proportional price levels may have provided three real options for the previous committee and students to consider. Then a second concept could have also been refined and set at a different price level.
Why did the previous committee not direct the architect to develop a renovation option with a distinct price level set more evenly between the $7-9 million update and a new building?
4) RESOURCE-EFFICIENT BUILDING: Offering two building schemes with nearly the same price seems appropriate if the two schemes were both new buildings or if the building to be renovated is historically-significant such as Old Main for example. Under common definitions related to historic buildings the existing RSC would not be typically considered historically-significant. However, renewing the existing RSC could be considered “resource-significant” or it could be a “resource-efficient” or “embodied-energy efficient” approach to design and construction. Embodied-energy being the energy invested to make the wood, steel, or concrete, and could be considered a feature of sustainable design. Also, I recall hearing a story about a student asking the architect of the master plan a question at an early planning meeting about why sustainability was not more prominent in the process and the architect responded that those issues are included when students promote or request the idea.
Why didn’t the architect or the previous committee at least present concepts of sustainability to their clients, the students, to evaluate so they would have had an opportunity to request additional effort for particular concepts, rather than waiting for the client request?
Excluding sustainable ideas as a component of the process seems questionable because a primary UW System document, Campus Physical Planning Principles from September 2001, prominently locates sustainability on the first page of this seven page report. Was it the intent of the committee and architect to present responses to some of the principles and not others?
Certain sustainable design ideas are innovative, such as building-integrated-photo-voltaics, but often expensive. Maybe renewing the existing building and reusing a campus resource would be the most affordable and the most “innovative” response to sustainability for this campus. What is your opinion?
5) UNIQUE AND ENERGY-SAVING BUILDING: Considering students fund renovations or additions to their student centers, the financial burden for the construction cost and the eventual cost for the operations and maintenance should be affordable to present and future students. For example, an academic building of a similar size (120,000 SF) and construction cost ($20 Million,) similar to the proposed new scheme for the student center, was recently completed at UW-Green Bay and had goals during the preliminary planning phase to:
- Reduce by 50% the energy costs over a similar-sized building with standard systems. Reducing energy costs helps lower the long-term cost for building upkeep and this could help lower the burden to student tuition.
- Build the facility for the same cost as building constructing with the typical systems.
The building at UWGB opened in 2001, is apparently saving energy as planned, has had great reviews, and has been nominated for environmental design awards. Universities in other countries, such as Italy, have contacted UWGB wanting more information about the unique building and its energy saving principles. Also, many diverse professional organizations have included the facility on their tour list, so that their members can personally experience interesting ideas. This brings recognition to UWGB, the City of Green Bay, and provides a legacy for students and alumni. UWGB is now a showcase for a unique and energy-saving ACADEMIC building. Maybe UWS could be the showcase for a unique and energy-saving STUDENT SERVICES building that costs less to operate and potentially lowers the impact on student tuition.
Although many of the features at UWGB were supported by grants from energy companies and other sources, what is your opinion on offering similar, yet affordable, principles in a proposed new student center?
6) COLLABORATION: The UW Principles previously described also suggest the importance of collaboration, item #9 on page five, with other state or local agencies in planning facilities. What were the nature of the discussions between the architect, the previous committee, and other agencies to compile with this principle? This is important because there is anecdotal evidence that UWS is not valued or appreciated in the community as much as it could be. For example, the publisher of the Superior Daily-Telegram recently wrote an opinion piece that suggested the value and prominence that the university brings to the area, but unfortunately, the opinion piece also suggested that this university is often not recognized by the citizens.
The master plan makes frequent mention of improving communication between various groups, such as commuter students with dormitory students, please explain the approach followed by the architect and the previous committee to increase the communication between the campus and the city/county to develop the collaborations and partnerships mentioned in the UW Principle?
Some of the new building ideas mentioned in the master plan, such as the new sun garden, a fireplace, or a unique roof, would give the student center more visual prominence in respect to the major Belknap Street thoroughfare, but what were the discussions related to improving collaboration, besides new building forms, with other agencies and area residents?
Please explain collaborations or partnerships that you’ve experienced at other campuses and how these successes could help give the UWS student center more prominence in the community or share the facility costs, programs, or services?
7) WHAT ABOUT MODIFYING “THE WRAP” SCHEME? The master plan makes assumptions that a new building is the best solution. However, the recommended scheme, Chapter 5: The Refined Concept, does not support some assumptions noted in the master plan and in several cases an alternate scheme,Chapter 4: Scheme 1 – The Wrap, actually provides better opportunities than the proposed new building. Please note that this argument is based on a quick review of the building and the master plan versus the more extensive analysis by the architect and his team. It’s also understood that the proposed new building is a schematic design and only preliminary, regardless, much effort was invested in that scheme so the following notations review that concept design. The master plan notes that the Wrap scheme updates the existing building and replaces the Hiawatha Wing with a new kitchen and snack bar with a savings of $4 million versus the proposed new scheme based on the master plan figures.
What is your opinion on reviewing again the Wrap scheme in more depth? In addition, what is your opinion if the suggestions noted below were also considered in a modified Wrap to reduce cost, yet achieve many of the wish-list items shown in the master plan?
- Do not move student organizations to a new addition as noted in Scheme 1 - The Wrap.
- Locate student organizations, mailboxes, health services in an updated lower level.
- Apply money saved by not constructing the proposed building addition for student organization by adding openings into the lower level from the exterior to increase daylight. Also provide new and wider stairs from the lower level to the concourse, for example extend new stairs from elevator to pool table in the location of the existing computer lab, for more direct people interaction between the updated student organization area and the existing concourse. Also, add windows in roof of existing concourse for more daylight.
- An alternative to building a new elevator at the north entrance near the circle drive for good accessibility is to relocate the circle drive to the west entrance, the Old Main side. For example, begin the new drive from Catlin Avenue on the south side of the student center and terminate at the northwest side of the student center near the existing circle drive. The new short-term parking area would be located at the entrance to the existing student center near the concrete canopies on the west side facing Old Main. This would provide direct access to the existing elevator via the concourse for people, rock bands, and exhibitors traveling to the lounge, meeting rooms, or ballroom.
- There are many questions concerning a relocated circle drive. It would require dollars for pavement, curb and gutter, a new sidewalk along the new street, and logistical issues concerning utility tunnels and trees. Also, a relocated circle drive is a different approach to campus planning than the published campus master plan that suggests a new pedestrian circle sidewalk extending from Old Main to the student center and the future buildings in-between. The intent is not to obstruct the ideas in the published campus plan. The intent is only to suggest another way to promote the goals stated in the RSC master plan for accessibility and visual orientation while working within the existing building context and without the expense of constructing a new elevator inside the existing RSC considering the existing elevator was recently installed in the 1980s. The main idea is that a proposed relocation of the circle drive brings vehicles closer to the existing elevator without building retrofit while offering a more direct visual connection between the student center and Old Main for campus visitors and users.
- A relocated circle drive provides great visual orientation for people entering the campus. Visual orientation was mentioned in the master plan. One of the proposed new schemes mentioned in the master plan actually relocated the entire building to the south of the existing student center to allow a visual corridor from Catlin to Old Main. Relocating the circle drive could provide visual orientation for visitors arriving at the student center without moving the building. Many universities have streets with sidewalks running through their campus while still providing safe pedestrian/vehicle relationships.
- Or forgo the relocated circle drive and install a new elevator at the north entrance by reducing the size of the meeting rooms at the lounge and ballroom levels. Renovating an existing campus resource, or considering alternatives to the published campus master plan, supports one notion of sustainable building…reuse and renew existing facilities.
What is your opinion on considering alternatives to the campus master plan, modifications to the Wrap scheme, or reviewing the suggestions noted above in reference to a refined concept for the Wrap scheme?
8) DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE NEW SCHEME AND A RENOVATED RSC: In some instances a renovated RSC may work better for increasing opportunities than the proposed new scheme. Listed below are several instances where a renovated RSC, incorporating ideas noted in the master plan Wrap scheme and above, could provide better opportunities than the proposed new scheme:
Student/Faculty Interaction for a new building scheme. A theme for the proposed new scheme included more casual space to promote student/faculty interaction. The proposed new scheme actually creates less such space in regards to one facet of interaction: meeting rooms. The new building scheme locates the meeting rooms on the second floor above the new bookstore with access to the main building via a bridge. Meetings lasting more than 60 minutes usually include short breaks. This scheme is not conducive to interactions during breaks because the rooms are not located near pedestrian pathways. Participants standing on the bridge may see a friend walking below but this interaction will most likely be very brief. Also, the restrooms/soda machines are located a significant distance away. What is your opinion on the location of the meeting rooms in the proposed new scheme in respect to people interaction?
Student/Faculty Interaction for a renovated RSC. The existing RSC has a good layout in regards to people interaction and meeting rooms. In the existing RSC, participants during breaks can socialize with friends in the lounge, run for a soda or the restroom quickly (except the accessible restroom is located in the concourse,) talk with people walking along the north-south pathway running to the parking area, or walk down a few steps to the east-west pathway and have happenstance meetings in the concourse. What is your opinion on people interaction in a renovated RSC if a modified Wrap scheme is developed further?
Accessibility in a new building scheme. One notion of accessibility is fair accommodations for people requiring the use of an elevator. In general, main stairs and elevators should be located in approximating the same location so friends needing an elevator will exit on the desired floor at about the same location as their colleague using the stairs. The proposed new scheme locates the elevator a significant distance from the monumental stair in the sun garden. In addition, a second set of stairs is located south of the meeting rooms so someone can actually avoid the monumental stairs and use these other stairs for quick access to a meeting, then your friend using the elevator runs a rather lengthy path to arrive at the same meeting. What is your opinion on accessibility issues in the proposed new scheme in regards to fair accommodations for different colleagues requiring different needs?
Accessibility for a renovated RSC. The existing RSC has a good relationship between meeting rooms, stairs, and elevators. There are two major accessibility problems with the existing RSC: no accessible restrooms on the lounge level and the lack of an accessible path from the north side. The proposed new scheme provides an entrance on the Old Main side closer to the north end and provides an option for an accessible path. What is your opinion on adding an elevator at the north entrance of the existing RSC by reducing the size of the meeting rooms to accommodate the hoist-way or by relocating the circle drive along the west entrance, the Old Main side, giving direct access to the existing elevator in the concourse (described in item #7 above) to accomplish accessibility ideas?
Bookstore. One wish-list item in master plan was “An improved Bookstore that is easier to navigate through and makes products easier to find.” This is a good idea. The proposed new scheme shifts the entire complex, and the bookstore, north to locate the new food service in the existing circle drive. Noting that qualification, could navigation be improved in the existing bookstore by relocating the shelving and equipment versus constructing a new bookstore of about the same size, in about the same location, and with nearly the same entrances, as suggested in the proposed new scheme? Please comment on the notion that although the existing RSC has problems as mentioned in the master plan, a renovated RSC may provide good or comparable opportunities for solving many student desires versus the proposed new scheme as shown in the master plan?
9) 2003-2005 BIENNIUM REPORT: The UW System 2003-2005 Biennium report, probably authored in early 2002, suggested that the “Rothwell Student Center is a structurally sound building of sufficient size that could be renovated to gain program efficiencies.”
The master plan, published in 2003 although I don’t know the date it was officially released, recommended that it’s best to demolish this structurally sound building. Maybe the research for the 2003-2005 Biennium report was only generalized and not comprehensive to notice structural problems and that’s OK because that’s why UWS hired the architect to research the building. However, I do not recall reading in the master plan that the building was structurally sound and I also do not recall reading the reverse, that the building was NOT structurally sound, although it mentions it’s “dark, maze-like, and confusing” which I’ll agree. In addition, the master plan notes that the brick exterior is in good condition.
The master plan does mention several times that the infrastructure is not sound but, in my opinion, structure is different than infrastructure. It’s also my opinion that destroying buildings even though their structure is stable is questionable. Therefore, please explain why that phrase in the 2003-2005 Biennium was not referenced in some manner in the master plan because excluding that strong statement, “...is a structurally sound building...,” may sway opinion to build new?
10) EPILOGUE: The master plan has good information and the executive summary, in particular, is helpful in understanding overall student desires.
[This essay is a reprint from www2.uwsuper.edu/rscplan.]
© Kevin Korpela, www.observatorydrive.com™