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Missouri S&T will move forward on campus improvements

Missouri S&T
An artist's rendition of the arrival plazas and green space that connects the Route 63 roundabout (bottom left) with the historic Rolla Building (upper right) on the Missouri S&T campus in Rolla.

ROLLA — The University of Missouri Board of Curators has approved four campus improvement projects at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

The upgrades and redesigns are part of an overall plan to enhance the campus that’s being funded by millions of dollars in private donations.

The most visible and public-facing of the four projects is the construction of two arrival plazas, at a total cost of $9.6 million, that will be gathering places for people visiting campus.

“It’s very important that we give the best first impression to prospective students and faculty members and other visitors,” said Fred Stone, director of design, construction and space management at S&T. “The goal is to create a campus that is really fitting of our academic reputation, and something that will ultimately attract people to the university.”

The plazas will be located at the new front entrance to the university, where a new road coming from Interstate 44 will end at a roundabout that includes an entry to campus.

The next phase of construction will include a welcome center and a student innovation lab adjacent to the plazas.

The construction of the roundabout and the demolition of homes to allow for the new road have drawn criticism from some Rolla residents and city council members, as well as some on campus who hoped the money would be spent elsewhere.

“Improving the university’s reputation is in everyone’s best interest, because it helps us stay at a sustainable level of enrollment, but it can also help us grow our enrollment and give us opportunities that we don’t have today,” Stone said.

The other projects the board of curators approved include:

  •  A $7.7 million geothermal energy plant that will power the student innovation lab with an expected completion date of December 2023.
  • A $10.2 million underground parking garage that will be part of the arrival district.
  • The construction of a new General Services Building that will be complete in June 2023. The old one then can be demolished to make way for a proposed manufacturing technology and innovation center, where private companies will work with S&T to create new products and ventures.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @JonathanAhl

Jonathan is the Rolla correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.

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