While higher education in the Tulsa metro has seen a boom of construction in the recent past, the University of Tulsa has taken the lead among its Green Country peers by adding more than 1 million SF of floor space since 1997.
A construction boom, said university spokesman David Hamby, was set in motion more than a decade ago by an administrative commitment to improve the academic standing of the school.
“The university has set very ambitious academic goals for itself, and the construction you see is a result of that goal,” he said.
“All of our ongoing construction will help us in recruiting faculty and students by transforming TU into a vibrant residential campus,” he said. “It makes the university a much easier sell when the campus is attractive.”
Since 1997 the university has added, at a cost of more than $175 million, 1,019,940 SF of student housing, athletic, academic and administrative support space and student recreation facilities.
Hamby said the school isn’t finished building.
“There are still some physical needs to be taken care of,” he said, citing the need to update the university physical plant, “but we won’t rest on our laurels. This university will always seize the opportunity to improve.”
The most recent additions to the TU landscape include 400 one- and two-bedroom, on-campus student apartments; the Case Athletic Complex, a three-story, 29,000-SF home for the Golden Hurricane football program,” and Collins Hall, an administrative building that was dedicated late summer 2007.
The apartments, which are clustered into three groups known as Brown, Mayo, and Lorton Villages, were built at a cost of nearly $35 million by Tulsa-based Case Development. Architects Collective, 4200 E. Skelly Drive, Ste. 750, designed the apartments.
The $9 million Case Athletic Complex opened for the 2007 season and was built by Nabholz Construction Co., 10319 E. 54th St.
The facility was built primarily with funds donated by longtime TU supporter (and Case Development CEO) Michael Case. Case was also the major donor behind TU’s $10 million, 54,000-SF Michael D. Case Tennis Center, which opened in 2001.
The construction of Collins Hall, a two-story, 39,000-SF building, consolidated student services, such as financial aid and admissions, and houses the TU Alumni Association. Collins Hall was built at a cost of $9 million by Nabholz.
“A Grand Entrance”
Aside from logistical and student-driven consolidation purposes, the recently completed Collins Hall will also serve as the focal point of TU’s new south entrance. The project, which, among other improvements, will replace College and Evanston Avenues between 11th and Seventh Streets with an oval roadway known as Tucker Drive, will be complete by the fall of 2008, said Hamby.
“The rationale behind the south entrance project is to make a grand and definitive entrance for the university off of one of the major city streets,” he said. “The university has never had a grand entrance off of a major drive. There have always been houses, residential areas or commercial areas in the way.”
“The entrance will make a statement that you have arrived at a top 100 university,” he said.
Tucker Drive, which will encircle a mall called the Chapman Commons and a fountain project known as the Genave King Rogers Fountain Plaza, was designed by St. Louis-based Hastings and Chivetta Architects. It is being built by Nabholz for about $12 million.
H.A. Chapman Stadium
Perhaps the most visible change to the University of Tulsa campus will take place at H.A. Chapman Stadium, which will soon see an upgrade on everything from antiquated restrooms to the stadium playing surface.
The $20 million project will add 6,800 chair backs, new restrooms and, concession areas and will replace Skelly Field’s field-turf. In addition, the renovation will add a brick-paved plaza on the stadium’s west side, in space currently occupied by Florence Avenue; replace the aging (and aesthetically challenged) west stands and replace the current press box.
The new press box will include 19 luxury suites with “club seating” for 400 patrons.
The university, which planned to begin the renovations immediately following the Golden Hurricane’s win against the University of Houston, postponed work until after the Nov. 30 State Championship game between Jenks and Union high schools.
“Our immediate plan was to start construction immediately after the last home football game,” Hamby said. “We have a very ambitious schedule and expect to have it ready for the first home football game of 2008.”
The stadium project, which was designed by national architecture firm 360 Architects, is being built by the JE Dunn Construction Group.
Of the ongoing and upcoming projects at the University of Tulsa, the most challenging, according to Hanby, is the addition of a two-story, 12,000-SF wing to the McFarlin Library.
The library, which was built in 1929, enlarged in 1967 and again in 1979, will attempt to reclaim lost space.
“As is stands now,” he said. “We have computer labs scattered throughout the building and this will allow us to pull computers out of reading rooms and use those for their original purpose.”
“There is an enormous challenge in adding on to a historic building and we will be following the same model that we did for the Sharp Chapel,” referring to a 2003 renovation that added a two-story annex to the 45-year-old chapel. The addition added meeting rooms, office space and a fireplace room to the chapel and sanctuary.
“If you walk around, or walk through the chapel, you will never notice what is original and what was added,” Hamby said.
“There is a seamless transition from old to new,” he said, “something we are trying to do to our entire campus – remain consistent.” ?