WICHITA, Kan. - Wichita State University is moving forward an aggressive plan to dramatically transform its main campus in the coming years.
The university has developed a facilities master plan based on innovation, through the implementation of physical and curricular changes throughout the university. The goal is to foster a culture of innovation — one geared toward business creation and reviving Wichita’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Wichita State President John Bardo outlined the plan Friday. It's a vision to expand the university to become a place where industry and higher education intersect.
At the heart of that effort is the creation of an innovation campus, generally located near the southeast portion of Wichita’s State’s main campus and expanded north and east over time.
A facilities master plan created with the help of GLMV Architecture provides a blueprint for a university expansion that could include the creation of more than a dozen buildings over the next 20 years.
“These are buildings that meet the needs of the future,” Bardo says. “We aren’t competing with private enterprise. We are working with private enterprise.”
Bardo says the availability of funding and interest from private enterprise will determine how quickly these plans progress.
Within five years, Bardo wants to create an Experimental Engineering Building that will include engineering labs and “maker space” that will be open to paying members wanting access to technology equipment to hone ideas for innovation.
That building is expected to be the first piece of Wichita State’s innovation campus. Bardo expects construction to start on that project in early 2015.
The building will be built where the Wheatshocker Apartments are now. The former dormitory near 17th Street North is set to be razed.
The first building on WSU’s innovation campus will cost roughly $34 million and will include 160,000 square feet of space. Bardo also hopes to see multiple “partnership” buildings built within five years.
The plan is for those sites to be built with private money with developers leasing space back to various businesses.
Wichita State’s facilities master plan calls for as many as six partnership buildings to be constructed over time.
University leaders also are leaning toward including WSU’s W. Frank Barton School of Business in the innovation campus.
Bardo has said that moving the business school from its existing home in Clinton Hall is part of phase two of the innovation campus.
Bardo’s plan also calls for construction of a second on-campus residence hall to complement Shocker Hall, which officially opened Thursday.
Additional student-services buildings also may be constructed near WSU’s innovation campus. A parking garage may be in the mix as well.
Bardo says the hope is to attract additional private development to WSU outside of the innovation campus.
To that end, the master plan carves out space for mixed-used development near the southwest corner of 21st Street North and Oliver and at the northwest corner of 17th Street North and Oliver.
A combination of apartments, hotels, restaurants and shops are listed among the possible development options for those sites.
All of this development is planned for areas along the eastern edge of WSU’s campus, an area that is now home to Braeburn Golf Course. The course will likely close as a result, although the university’ hasn’t committed specifically to the closure yet.
Wichita State stakeholders — including students, faculty and people from the community at-large — first created the university’s facilities master plan in 2012, but it has since been modified.
The initial plan called for keeping Braeburn as a nine-hole course.
Plans for additional development at WSU comes on the heels of $100 million in construction projects coming on line: Shocker Hall and the completion of the refurbished Rhatigan Student Center.