Weekly Feature

2009-11-11 / Education

UB unveiled master plan for expansion

A comprehensive physical plan that will guide the growth of the University at Buffalo as it implements the UB 2020 strategic plan to become a model 21st century university was unveiled Oct. 27 at a community celebration on UB’s North Campus in Amherst.

The university’s first master plan since creation of UB’s North Campus in the 1970s, it articulates a long-range vision to create one university with three seamlessly connected campuses, North, South and Downtown, including a renewed presence in the city’s urban core with creation of an Academic Health Center with UB’s five professional health schools located on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

UB 2020 calls for UB, already the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York, to grow by increasing enrollment by 10,000 and faculty and staff ranks by more than 6,700.

“Building UB” is of historic size and scope — a $5 billion investment to create 7 million square feet of space to be constructed during a minimum of 20 years. By growing on its three campuses, UB will increase its economic and cultural impact on the entire region. During the next two decades, implementation of the plan is projected to generate an additional $20 billion or more in regional economic impact.

The plan is the result of two years work and the input of thousands of people, including members of the university community and the public.

Input and feedback was gathered by UB officials during more than 250 meetings with internal and external stakeholders and at three public forums.

The comprehensive physical plan was unveiled by UB President John B. Simpson at a celebration attended by 500 people in the Center for the Arts on the North Campus.

Simpson said the planned growth of the UB North, South and Downtown campuses will help the university rise among the ranks of the nation’s public research universities.

“UB has good campuses. Good facilities, strong infrastructure, natural landscapes, historic buildings and more. The promise of the campus master plan, to which we dedicate ourselves this evening, is to make our good campuses into great ones, and to add an entire new campus of the university in downtown Buffalo,” he said. “It is to transform campuses that merely serve their purpose into campuses where people want to be, campuses that people love.”

Implementation of the plan will require approximately $2.9 billion in special requests for state funds to build core academic facilities, plus $2.1 billion to be funded by UB from revenue streams earned in concert with private partners, philanthropy and other sources. The money required is to be invested carefully over time following the principles of the plan, UB officials emphasize.

UB is seeking state legislative reform to allow it to act more independently and more efficiently. Such reform would give UB the financial flexibility to fulfill the potential of UB 2020 and the comprehensive physical plan.

Elements of the plan — including several projects totaling more than $400 million in funding encumbered from previous state budget cycles — already are underway. A South Ellicott student housing project and new engineering building on the North Campus.

The plan is detailed in a 248-page book, “Building UB: The Comprehensive Physical Plan” and in a 32-page booklet, “Building UB: Toward a Greater Univers i t y, ” which offers a summary.

UB’s new comprehensive physical plan was developed by the university working with a team of consultants led by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners.

UB’s suburban North Campus is designed to become warmer, more welcoming and more sustainable, and home to programs in the arts and sciences, engineering and management, as well as UB’s main libraries.

New buildings will include four natural sciences buildings, three engineering buildings (one already under construction), a humanities center and an additional building for the School of Management. Also outlined are plans for new research and arts lofts. A recreational and wellness center, hotel and conference center, and a university club for alumni, faculty and staff will be situated on an oval near Lake LaSalle.

The plan proposes broadened transportation options between and on UB’s campuses, and smoother and more convenient connections between them.

More walkable and bike-friendly, UB’s campuses will include parking garages “to ease the impact of parking on the land and on the eye.” The summary of the plan notes: “Changing energy economics, the threat of global climate change and the impact of cars upon our campus landscapes all demand we develop new alternatives.” The plan also supports expansion of the NFTA Metro Rail from the South Campus to the North Campus.

The article is available online at www. buffalo. edu/ news/ 10606.

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