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Baylor juggling 4 construction projects

Feb. 22, 2001

New edifices emerge as old ones get a lift

More than $50 million will funnel into new sites, building renovation


Staff writer

Baylor is getting a facelift with new buildings popping up and old ones being renovated all around campus.

Four projects are in the works right now, including construction on Floyd Casey Stadium, the tennis facility for the Jim and Julie Turner Riverfront Athletic Complex, the Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center, and the George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

'Construction is based on the uses of the facilities,' Ken Simons, business manager, said. 'As (buildings) age, we have to do more renovations.'

An approximate $1.9 million construction project on Floyd Casey Stadium began in January.

This construction includes an expansion of the locker rooms at the north end zone totaling 8,000 square feet and renovations of the training area facilities, Simons said. The construction will be completed in August, he said.

Another project scheduled to be completed this year is the first phase of the $6 million tennis facility. Construction on this facility began last fall, Simons said.

'It will be one of the premiere facilities in the country and will give us a chance to showcase our nationally ranked men's and women's teams,' said Dr. Darryl Lehnus, associate athletic director for sales and marketing.

The tennis complex construction will be completed in four phases. The first phase includes six outdoor varsity courts as well as locker room and office facilities for both men's and women's tennis and women's softball. This phase should open in time to host the 2001 Big 12 Conference Men's and Women's Tennis Championships, which will be held April 26 through 29, Simons said.

The second phase includes three additional outdoor courts, one of which will be a stadium court.

'We hope to have these three additional courts ready at the same time,' Simons said.

The third phase of this construction will be a six-court indoor facility, and the fourth will be a reconfiguration of Baylor's existing Streich Tennis Courts. There is not a schedule on these two phases at this time because no funding is available, Simons said.

The $30 million Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center should be completed in August.

This building will be 125,000 square feet and will be located on the Brazos River adjacent to Fort Fisher. Construction on the law school began in December 1999.

This new facility will include classrooms, courtrooms, a law library, computer labs, seminar and meeting rooms, faculty and administrative offices, and common areas.

Two current law students who will graduate before being able to take a class in the new law school admit to being a little envious of the future facilities.

'Our building is old, smelly, and has no plugs for computers,' said Liz Hale, a third-year law student from Norfolk, Va.

Hale said that she wished the current law school, located in the Morrison Constitution Hall, was more technologically advanced.

'With the law changing we need a new building to adapt,' said Fritz Quast, a third-year law student from Comanche, Texas.

The physical facilities affect national rankings and attract more people, Quast said.

'The new law school will be second to none in the nation, and it will be beautiful right beside the river,' Quast said.

The students said the only drawback would be the sentimental value of the old law school.

'Some people's parents studied in the same rooms we do,' Quast said.

Baylor is looking at different academic programs to move into the existing law facility, the Morrison Constitution Hall. Possibly departments out of the College of Arts and Sciences will move in, but it depends on what will require the least renovations, Simons said.

The $17 million George W. Truett Theological Seminary will probably be completed in January 2002, Simons said. Construction on this facility began in August 2000.

Seminary students are looking forward to having their own facilities. For the last seven years the seminary has been meeting at the First Baptist Church of Waco.

Cory Butler, a first-year seminary student from Abilene, said he is looking forward to 'having rooms conducive to teaching and learning.'

The 64,000-square-foot seminary building is under construction on the corner of M.L. Cooper Drive and Dutton Avenue across from Russell Hall. The building will include a Great Hall, a 100 foot by 100 foot landscaped, enclosed courtyard, a teaching chapel named in honor of President Robert B. Sloan Jr., classroom and meeting rooms, and faculty and administrative offices.

Plans also include a proposed chapel spire, which would be over 100 feet tall.

Butler said that although meeting at the church has been adequate to this point, 'it is kind of cramped because Truett is growing in popularity.'

Butler also said that many seminary students look forward to being located on Baylor campus in their own building.

'It will be nice to be considered more of a part of Baylor,' Butler said.

With all of the new construction on campus, it seems as though Baylor could be changing its 'look,' but Simons said only necessary changes are being made.