Queens has ambitious plans for building projects in the coming years and many are curious to know what future plans lie ahead. Bill Nichols, vice president of campus planning and services, maintains the “master plan” for the University, which includes foremost renovations to Belk Chapel and Walker Science Building, along with new tennis courts and an updated Tyvola Road sports complex in order to accommodate the planned growth to 2,000 undergraduate students by 2020.
The master plan was developed and approved in 2006 by the Board of Trustees. It is split into two phases. Nichols explained that phase one is mostly complete and includes renovations that began in 2007-2008. Phase one included the construction of the Lion’s Den, renovations to the Harris Welcome Center and Withers House, construction of the Sports Complex (including three fields, a field house and a conference center), Rogers Science Hall, South Residence Hall and parking deck and the Levine Center for Wellness and Recreation.
The only component of phase one that has not been finished is the renovation of Belk Chapel. Nichols explained that they plan to “add on about 4,000 square feet onto the Chapel, which will provide a new entrance space to be used for receptions, men’s and women’s restrooms, a meditation room that can double as a brides room and a classroom/office space.”
All in all, the chapel project will take about six months of construction. The only thing preventing the renovations is lack of funding.
“We are still waiting to raise money for the Chapel, that is the hold up,” said Nichols. Once we get the money for it we will get started.”
On Oct. 17, Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. Michael Marsicano announced the addition of a Center for Faith and Outreach to be housed in Belk Chapel after the additions are completed.
“This programmatic Center is designed to enrich the spiritual life of the Queens community and to encourage the spiritual growth, development and expression of our students,” said Marsicano. “Just like Belk Chapel, the Center deserves a name worthy of its purpose. For her strong faith, for the spiritual example she provides our students and for her deep love of Queens, I am pleased to announce that [the Center] will honor Pamela Davies and heretofore be known as The Pamela Davies Center for Faith and Outreach.”
Next in the master plan phase two. The first priority is to construct 12 lit tennis courts by the Sports Complex, which will likely also be constructed in two phases.
“After more money is raised, the next project will be adding a building to accompany the courts. This building will include home and visitor locker rooms, men and women’s bathrooms, and conference room,” said Nichols, mentioning that it would be very similar to the complex that is already in place. He said the total cost of the courts and the building would be $4 million, with $1 million already raised for court construction.
“Construction documents are finished and have been put in for city permit, so as soon as we raise the rest of the money, I can pull the trigger and we can start construction immediately,” Nichols said. It is estimated that the construction process will take about 9 months.
Other athletic related renovations and construction projects include upgrading the current track to rubber, adding a building by the track, creating a cross country trail and renovating the softball field facility.
Plans for existing older buildings include a complete rehaul of Walker Science Building, the first floor of which will be the new home for programs like the John Belk International Program, the Center for Internships and Careers and the Center for Student Success. The third floor will house the Knight School of Communication.
“We feel like there is a lot of synergy between these three centers,” said Nichols. “These are things our students really like about Queens.”
As for the existing locations of these programs, JBIP and Student Center for Success will most likely turn into offices and Blair House will be torn down. This process will cost $4 million. Roughly half a million dollars has already been raised.
Belk Residence Hall is presently undergoing renovations and bathroom changes and will remain a student residence. Nichols said it will be back online in June.
The master plan is still in the works and will be implemented over the course of the next 20 years.