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By Bill Beggs Jr.

Most of us see the heavy equipment building and rebuilding interchanges, bridges and highways from Alton to Arnold, from O’Fallon to O’Fallon. Construction cranes are a part of the everyday skyline in downtown St. Louis, Clayton and numerous other spots throughout St. Louis County. The bigger, regional picture encompasses construction of all types in counties named Franklin, St. Charles, Jefferson, Madison, St. Clair, Monroe and beyond.

Included in the bricks-and-mortar metamorphosis are the institutions of higher learning on both sides of the river that regularly produce eager new members of a burgeoning workforce. Construction at area campuses, whether smaller liberal arts schools or major universities, continues apace. While tuckpointing or reroofing aging structures is an ongoing challenge most everywhere, projects costing hundreds of thousands to tens of millions of dollars have been completed, are under way or in the planning stages within 50 miles of St. Louis, to all four points of the compass.

Who’s paying for all this? It depends on whether the institutions are public or private, of course. In the public arena, bond issues help foot the bill for some projects, state and/or federal allocations for others. Grateful alumni with deep pockets, not to mention innovative development directors with inroads to the corporate community, are key to projects coming to fruition at private schools.

As it is the case with highway construction, if campus projects aren’t continuously moving forward, the effect is a zero sum game: The students you don’t enroll go elsewhere. To wit: A St. Louis College of Pharmacy spokeswoman says campus and building projects completed in 2003 are already at capacity. The college is presently conducting a space analysis to consider alternatives to increase classroom space and student housing for the future.

(Editor’s note: As with any of our “roundup” articles, we’ve tried to be as even-handed as possible and diligent to not compare an apple to an orange—for instance, in this case, renovation of a facility to construction of a brand-new, $60-million building. Taken together, we estimate that within the last 18 months approximately $1 billion has been expended or earmarked for expansion of colleges and universities region-wide. Institutions from a few hundred to many thousand students all contribute to this collegiate construction boom.)

East Central College

Groundbreaking ceremonies were to be held in October in Union, Mo., for a 51,800-square-foot building to accommodate growth in ECC’s nursing, emergency medical services and science programs.

In August 2006, ECC district voters approved a $15.8 million bond issue to finance a new multipurpose building to include classrooms, labs, and equipment.

The building will house two lecture halls; one to accommodate 80 students and the other to seat 50. There also will be eight science labs, five classrooms, three nursing labs, an ambulance bay, three computer labs, science stock rooms and prep rooms, offices and a conference room.

Harris-Stowe State University

The groundbreaking ceremony for a new Early Childhood education building at Harris-Stowe was set for Oct. 19. The project is estimated to cost $17.8 million. Details were incomplete at press time.

Lindenwood University

Construction of Lindenwood’s $32 million Center for the Fine and Performing Arts is under way, set for completion next spring. The 130,000-square-foot building will feature a 1,200-seat main auditorium for theater, music, dance, lectures and other events.

A main gallery will showcase student art and professional exhibits, and will double as a reception area for events in the auditorium. The building is also designed to provide a hands-on learning environment for students studying to be educators and technicians. There will be classrooms of varying sizes, a 150-seat black-box theater, music practice rooms, fashion design studio, production design studio, high-tech video suite, vocal music hall and instrumental music hall.

Logan College of Chiropractic

Logan recently completed an 18-month, $22.5 million capital improvement project that included the development of the William D. Purser Center, a 47,000-square-foot learning facility and business conference facility. The Purser Center project is the largest capital improvement program the college has ever undertaken.

Logan also plans to build a new 6,500-square-foot student center on its suburban Chesterfield campus. College officials expect the $3.5-million project, to be funded through private donations, will be completed in late 2008.

“The increased demand for chiropractic healthcare services and Logan’s growth in student population led to the expansion,” says Dr. George A. Goodman, Logan’s president. With 1,100 students, Logan has evolved into the second-largest chiropractic college or university in North America.

Goodman added that the 112-acre campus is ideally situated as a community gathering place, reflected in the number of bookings—ranging from symphony concerts to wedding receptions and business meetings.

Maryville University

Maryville completed a $150,000 renovation of its library over the summer.

Genie McKee, Ph.D., dean of the library, pointed out that college students have grown accustomed to bookstores like Borders, which offer both comfortable accoutrements and functional workspaces.

The centerpiece is the transformation of the first floor into an Information Commons area, providing students, and library faculty and staff, with the latest technology. Two years ago, the Library went wireless to allow patrons the convenience of using laptop computers.

St. Louis Community College

SLCC’s Wildwood campus opened in August with more than 1,200 students. Offerings include associate degrees in general transfer studies, business administration and teaching, as well as introductory career and technical-education courses, continuing-education and developmental courses needed to attain degrees. A partnership between SLCC and the University of Missouri-St. Louis will enable students to complete bachelor’s degrees in business administration, liberal studies or elementary education.

The initial 75,000-square-foot building houses high-tech classrooms and labs, library, bookstore, student services, lounges, a multipurpose room and rooms equipped with sophisticated presentation and Web-based technologies. High-speed Internet access is available via cable as well as wireless connectivity within and around campus.

SLCC-Wildwood is the region’s first “green”-roofed college building. Topped by trays of sedum—a drought-tolerant plant with water-storing leaves to help prevent heat absorption, the roof is key to SLCC’s bid to qualify the campus for gold-level LEED* certification.

In 1998, SLCC purchased 66 acres in Wildwood for approximately $3.9 million; construction cost approximately $18 million.

Meanwhile, in north St. Louis SLCC has proposed building a new home for William J. Harrison Northside Education Center. The projected $10-million, 30,000 square-foot school would house four general-purpose classrooms, lab space, administrative offices, and common areas for students, staff and community members. SLCC will pursue LEED* certification for this project, as well.

Academic offerings will concentrate on computers/technology, childcare, environmental sciences and allied health.

The Center’s new location is along Cass Avenue adjacent to Vashon High School and Clyde C. Miller Academy. SLCC plans for the synergy of the three institutions to leverage scarce educa-tional resources and establish learning partnerships.

Saint Louis University

SLU continues to be the focus of a dramatic transformation in midtown. Projects worth more than $160 million are under way. And a neighborhood redevelopment project aims to knit the university and surrounding area together even more tightly. Benefits include new investment, jobs and secondary development.

The University in June signed a letter of intent with McCormack Baron Salazar and with Philadelphia-based U3 Ventures to develop concepts for University-owned property at the entrance to Grand Center. Plans for the property include mixed-use development that includes retail, entertainment, office, and condominiums. A survey conducted by the University shows a high interest in for sale residential in the area.

“This is an extremely important development for both Saint Louis University and Midtown St. Louis,” says The Rev. Lawrence Biondi, SLU president. “We want to continue to grow and enhance the areas around our campus.”

The property includes a vacant parcel at the intersection of Grand and Lindell and the former Missouri State Office Building at 3545 Lindell. The two properties comprise 4.3 acres.

Since the development project was announced, renowned architect Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos has been selected to develop design concepts for the project. Officials emphasize SLU’s commitment to development that will enhance the campus experience for students, faculty and staff, as well as bring new people to the area to live.

• Chaifetz Arena, an $81-million project, is slated to open in April. It will seat 10,600 and not only be a true home court for Billikens basketball, but also a perfect location for concerts, shows and other events.

• Edward A. Doisy Research Center, a 10-story building of 206,000 square feet, is the largest building project in SLU’s history: $82 million. The distinctive, triangular-shaped building of glass and steel will connect by a covered walkway to the School of Medicine, where more research facilities are being renovated. The nine-acre site at Grand and Chouteau will be landscaped with a stream, fountain and Zen garden. The project is seeking LEED* Silver certification, given by the U.S. Green Building Council, the nation’s leader in certification of sustainable buildings. The Center aims to further research discoveries in cancer, liver disease, heart/lung disease, aging and brain disease and vaccine development.

Doisy will be the eastern anchor of CORTEX (the Center of Research, Technology & Entrepreneurial Exchange), the public-private economic initiative striving to further the world-class biotech industry that continues to emerge throughout the region. Invest-ment in Doisy Research Center boosts SLU’s ability to recruit and retain the best and brightest science researchers.

Clayco Construction Co. is the general contractor; the architect is Cannon Design.

Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

In September, the Illinois Senate passed a capital program including $69.5 million for a long-anticipated second science building at SIUE. At press time officials were awaiting action by the state House and were confident the bill would be signed by the governor.

SIU President Glenn Poshard said the science building is among several “projects that are desperately needed to replace outdated and overcrowded buildings.”

Evergreen Hall, the newest of SIUE’s residence halls, was completed in time for fall. Cost was approximately $41 million for the 190,000-square-foot, three-story dorm intended to house 500-plus upperclassmen.

In late September, SIUE’s planned $16.6-million Student Success Center was given the go-ahead. Construction of the 66,000-square-foot center is slated to begin in spring 2008 with an expected completion date of June 2009.

Meanwhile, SIUE’s board was considering project and budget approval for $6 million in improvements to the sports facility, Vadalabene Center. Other pending projects include expanding the Student Fitness Center and renovating the university bookstore.

Several projects are also on tap for SIUE’s University Park, home to the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center (NCERC), including a proposed American Red Cross Blood Processing Center and National Testing Laboratory.

Southwestern Illinois College

A new academic building is under construction on SWIC’s Belleville campus, and the Fire Sciences Training Center is being expanded. Both are slated for completion early next year. Also, pending approval, a mixed-use project is on tap for construction next spring on an eastern section of the campus.

More than $7.7 million in Illinois state funds are earmarked for the 46,000-square-foot academic building. Another $792,806 will fund the 4,500-square-foot addition to the existing fire training tower.

The new building will provide 16 high-tech classrooms, a computer lab and offices for the Social Sciences department. Barnes and Noble will also expand with a 5,000-square-foot bookstore.

Subject to the negotiation of a final agreement approved by the SWIC board, Koman Properties of Clayton will develop The Shoppes at College Square. This $60 million to $70 million project is expected to offer approximately 400,000 square feet of mixed-use space designed, in part, to offer SWIC students access to enhanced amenities.

In May 2006, SWIC acquired a 156-acre parcel east of the campus for expansion consistent with its long-range plan.

“We determined that the 23-acre parcel was not needed for educational or facility use and that there would be advantages to introducing additional retail and other services to our college campus environment,” says Elmer H. Kirchoff, SWIC president.

Plans are to feature popular retailers and restaurants appealing to the student body, faculty and staff as well as area residents.

University of Missouri- St. Louis

UMSL recently opened a six-story, 130,000-square-foot residence hall that accommodates more than 430 students. Oak Hall features four-bedroom suites; each resident has a private room. Amenities include a heated outdoor pool, convenience store, laundry facilities and game rooms. The price tag was $26 million. Kozeny-Wagner was the general contractor.

To complement Oak Hall, UMSL is building a $6.5 million, 320-space parking structure. Designed by PB Buildings and constructed by Tarlton Corp., the project includes a new façade for the College of Nursing building.

UMSL is also working with HOK on conceptual plans to renovate its science complex. The $28.5-million project is part of Gov. Matt Blunt’s Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative.

Express Scripts Inc.’s corporate headquarters opened in June in UMSL’s, Business, Technology and Research Park. ESI is the first tenant in the 100-acre park along I-70.

Washington University

“The shortest distance between two points is under construction,” is a quip attributed to author Leo Aikman. As a reporter for The Record at Wash U. has observed, Aikman very well could have been talking about the Danforth Campus.

Four major construction projects are under way or have recently been completed: the William H. and Elizabeth Gray Danforth Center, Central Underground Parking Garage, Social Sciences/Law building and Steinberg Hall renovation.

The parking garage will add 535 spaces on three underground levels. The lower two are open, but the top won’t be ready until Danforth Center is completed overhead.

At an approximate cost of $41 million, the three-story, 116,000-square-foot collegiate Gothic building is scheduled to open for the fall 2008 semester. Designed as a “green” structure, to be LEED* gold-certified, Danforth Center was designed by Tsoi/Kobus and Associates of Cambridge, Mass., and is being built by Clayco of St. Louis. Construction is being supported in part by gifts from the Danforth Foundation, A.G. Edwards and the Harry Edison Foundation.

The four-story Social Sciences/Law building is also expected to be ready for fall 2008. Projected cost for the 150,000-square-foot building is $38.4 million.

The university plans to renovate or replace the residence halls during the next four to five years. Steinberg Hall’s renovation was completed in time for its auditorium to be used this fall.

Construction began in May on a hall east of Millbrook Square Apartments. Village East Housing will add about 152 beds in apartment-style living, mainly for upperclassmen.

Goldfarb Hall and Mudd/Park Resi-dential College are undergoing upgrades. Goldfarb—home of the George Warren Brown School of Social Work—had its lobby renovation completed last summer, providing a main front door as well as a much-needed community space. Renovations to Mudd/Park will add 57 beds to Park Residence Hall.

The University last summer completed renovating a former synagogue at 560 Trinity Ave. that it had purchased in 2005 for $4.9 million. The 560 Music Center provides additional space for the Music and Performing Arts departments, and houses the 1,115-seat E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall—now the largest performance space on campus.

At the Medical School, projects include the orthopedic outpatient center completed in Chesterfield last summer. Plans for a new building on the School of Medicine campus were to be unveiled Oct. 30.

Washington University Orthopedics and Barnes-Jewish Hospital’s $13-million outpatient orthopedic facility is an imposing presence just to the north of I-64/U.S. 40. The first surgical procedure took place there July 25.

The 60,000-square-foot center offers one-stop outpatient care, including ambulatory surgery suites, diagnostic radiology and rehabilitation together with hand therapies. It has been selected for LEED* certification.

Why the frenetic development? Two years ago, Wash U.’s chancellor told Commerce that his university’s top minds are in demand across the country and around the world—not only to lecture or present research, but also to switch their allegiance.

Mark S. Wrighton, Ph.D., compared the challenge to that of a baseball team owner who had to deal with every player being up for free agency—every single year.

“That remains true,” Wrighton observed recently. “Capital projects are essential in areas related to research, not only to recruit great people, but provide excellent facilities for them to do their best work.”

Webster University

Webster’s two new residence halls opened in the fall of 2006. West Hall and East Hall added 343 students to the on-campus residential community, raising it to 623. The halls incorporate new philosophies about dorm life.

“In the 1960s and ’70s, colleges had two criteria: To maximize density and for the buildings to last 70 to 80 years,” says John Buck, associate dean of students and housing director. Today, says Buck, dorms are built more for community than longevity.

Mackey Mitchell and Associates of St. Louis designed the residence halls, as well as a new home for the Community Music School. In October 2006, CMS moved its headquarters from University City to a new 26,000-square-foot building on the Webster campus just east of the Loretto-Hilton Center. CMS serves nearly 2,500 students, with a wide range of offerings for all ages and skill levels.

Expansion at Webster, as at any campus, is geared to future student and community needs. Planning for both takes passion and a singular vision.

“Today’s campus growth includes both physical and technological expansion,” says Richard Meyers, Webster president. “The merging of bricks, mortar and technology into a holistic approach to form and function is our vision for future growth.”


By Bill Beggs Jr.

If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, the Construction Careers Center (CCC) should be very flattered these days. New Orleans is one of several cities that has borrowed heavily from the model of St. Louis’ novel, industry-supported charter school that entices young men and women as early as fifth grade to consider construction as a career. Reno, Nev., is another, and a third is under consideration in New England, says Len Toenjes, president of the Associated General Contractors of St. Louis (AGC).

The Class of 2006 was the third for CCC, which got the go-ahead from the Missouri State School Board in January 2001. At the time, the national Engineering News-Record noted in a story about the kickoff that a lot of work needed to be done before the project got off the ground, not the least of which was the purchase and renovation of a vacant school building in a deteriorating part of town.

“The ENR reporter came back four years later to do a follow-up,” Toenjes recalls. “She remembered the neighborhood as it was then, so was sitting outside and called to say the cab driver took her to the wrong address.

“I told her to come right on in.”

The board’s goal of 500 students is not far off, Toenjes says. Enrollment increased from 380 to 445 this year, the largest ever, with 80 kids on the waiting list.

The circa-1930s building was built as a middle school, and the City schools were using it for storage when the AGC took possession. The roof was about the only part of the building that had held up, and Toenjes notes that it might have been cheaper to raze it and rebuild. Ah, hindsight. Modern requirements such as environmental and ADA concerns had to be addressed: The windows had lead in them, the electrical was antiquated.

The project was handled in phases, so the student body has grown into the building one year at a time. Toenjes learned recently that there are more students than lockers, which isn’t the worse problem to have.

Although the City schools have oversight, as a charter school CCC isn’t eligible for local money. But the community has responded.

As Toenjes puts it, the project continues to carry on through “fundraising, contributions, and prayer.”

The school is like many other high schools, but with an emphasis on relevant math and science to help kids develop the skills to pay the bills upon graduation. Some go on to seek engineering degrees, but the majority are ready to put on a hardhat and seek work on local projects, of which there’s no shortage nowadays.

After high school, St. Louis has an abundance of well-regarded training programs for hourly workers, supervisors, and business owners. CCC aims to hook up every graduate with a local apprenticeship program. This isn’t a rubber-stamp process, by any means.

“If you look at specific trades, you can find shortages,” Toenjes acknowledges. “But when you get the 20,000-foot view, we’re fortunate in having good labor- management relations that have resulted in a good standard of living, which is attractive to people; and we have a good diverse economic base, so people can work continuously.”


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Cover Story with Neil Smit, Charter Communications
Momentum St. Louis
Maren Engelmohr
Maren Engelmohr
Thomas Taylor
Thomas Taylor

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St. Louis Community College-Wildwood Campus
Ameristar Casino
Oceano Bistro

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