An attempt by UTD to purchase a nearby office building to help alleviate overcrowding and safety concerns in the Founders Building was scrapped in December, but help may be on the horizon, UTD administrators said.
When a university plan to purchase Waterview Plaza, a building commonly referred to as the Kodak Building recently fell through, UTD administrators began looking into acquiring another nearby building.
“We still need some immediate expansion space, so we’re exploring other options to substitute for Waterview Plaza,” said B. Hobson Wildenthal, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “We need to lower the density of people per square foot, relieve principal safety issues and get things out of the hallways (in Founders).”
The Waterview Plaza facility was three times larger than UTD’s projected need, and the money to completely renovate the larger building was not available, said Senior Vice President for Business Affairs Robert Lovitt.
Lovitt added the new proposal will be reviewed by the UT System Board of Regents in May. If approved by the regents, the proposal would be forwarded to the Coordinating Board for final approval in July.
The university has been allocated $12 million from UT System’s Permanent University Fund to purchase and renovate a building, Wildenthal said.
Once the new Natural Science and Mathematics (NSM) research facility – slated for completion by Fall 2007 – is finished, renovations to Founders can begin, Wildenthal said.
“As soon as we can move the folks out of Founders, we can begin (renovations),” said Lawrence Redlinger, executive director for strategic planning and analysis. “But one does not move ongoing research and people without considerable care as to what their needs are.”
Whether through purchasing an auxiliary facility or constructing a new one, UTD administrators agree the situation in Founders is one that needs to be addressed immediately.
“We regard (Founders’ need for renovation) as an urgent issue.” Wildenthal said. “We are working frantically to design the new NSM building.”