Like a child playing with blocks, Augusta State University President William Bloodworth arranges the cardboard buildings on the wooden architect's model.
The science building goes here at the rear of campus, near the natatorium. Beside it, build another classroom building and then another, facing Walton Way. On the other side of Reese Library, add a student center. And finally, with a swoop of the hands, take away those six warehouse-style buildings where most classes now meet.
If only it were that easy. But this is the vision for Augusta State's campus over the next five to 10 years.
The construction is a long-time coming. The newest building at Augusta State is Reese Library, built in the 1970s, said Marian Cheek, director of public relations.
"Our master plan has shown us where we should put the buildings and how campus should be designed to accommodate 7,200 students," the enrollment target for 2010, Dr. Bloodworth said.
"It will be a virtually new campus," said Ms. Cheek.
Work began in December on the $19.4 million science building, to be completed next summer. And architects are now finalizing blueprints for the first new classroom building.
In 1993, six warehouse classroom buildings -- Butler, Market, Hardy and Skinner halls, the Classroom Office Building and the Science Building -- were discovered to have asbestos roofs. The roofs of those buildings have been encapsulated with a protective sealant to ensure no asbestos escapes into the atmosphere. But that is just a stop-gap measure designed to last five years until new classrooms are built, so the warehouses can be demolished.
"Nobody could think of how to take one or two buildings out of commission to replace the roofs," said Dr. Bloodworth, noting that the old warehouses aren't really suited for classrooms anyway.
Last September, Augusta State got the $18.2 million it needed from Georgia's Board of Regents and the state Legislature to begin designing the first replacement classroom building.
The 115,000 square-foot structure will be built near the Arsenal Quadrangle, and it is styled like a historic Summerville home. The building will be brick, with lots of windows and three balconies supported by traditional southern white columns. Construction is set to begin in the summer of 1999 and should be completed in April 2001, Dr. Bloodworth said.
Classrooms and labs will be stocked with the most up-to-date equipment, and every faculty office will have a window.
"I'm so happy, I can't stand it," said Ron Weber, an education professor and assistant to the university president. "I've been 20 years entombed in a building without light, natural light."
To make sure everyone -- from students to faculty -- is pleased with the new classroom space, a building advisory team meets every Tuesday morning to discuss the preliminary architectural plans and suggest changes. Because of these weekly discussions, architects have added several study rooms and study carrells to accommodate Augusta State's commuter students.
Augusta State is also awaiting funding for the second classroom building, which will be located near the main campus entrance on Walton Way. That project will cost $18.3 million and should be funded in one of the next two budget years, Dr. Bloodworth said.
When construction begins on the second classroom building, crews will demolish the warehouses where 75 percent of classes now meet. That phase of construction should be finished by 2003, Dr. Bloodworth said.
After that, Augusta State will try to get $5 million for improvements on west campus, including the addition of a recital hall and the construction of new roads and parking lots.
The school will also ask for $8 million for an improved student center. That money will be repaid over 20 years through an increase in student activity fees.
"We'll finally have physical facilities that are equal to the quality of study and teaching that goes on here," Dr. Bloodworth said.
This is Augusta State University' s master plan for the school's long-awaited construction.
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