LPTS revises plan for new academic building and gains a new housing facility at a portion of the original construction cost.
Construction is fully underway for a new student housing building on the east side of the LPTS campus. Rising up from the center of the existing housing area is a 24-unit facility offering modern studio apartments. Its placement among the other buildings appears to complete the residential area in a circle of community. The new building will subsume the use and purpose of Schlegel Hall, an under-utilized dormitory and the only residential facility on the academic side of the campus.
“We are realizing that students today do not find dormitory living to be an attractive option, and as a result, the occupancy of Schlegel is only around 50%,” said Patrick Cecil, the vice president for finance who has overseen the construction project.
“By moving all of our residential students to one area of the campus, we will remove a situation of isolation that was unintentionally created with current living accommodations and at the same time provide better living conditions for our students,” he said, adding that substantial renovation of the 40-year-old Schlegel would have been required to bring the facility up to appropriate living standards.
The new one and one-half-story building will be comprised of 24 apartments built into the east edge of the campus where the property slopes toward Alta Vista Road. Each studio includes a fully equipped kitchenette, separate bathroom, spacious closet, large picture window, individual heat and air, and is wired for Internet access. Four slightly larger units have been fitted for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliancy. Walkways connect the building to other housing units and a continuous driving loop will provide new access to the east side of the campus.
Addressing the issues of appropriate housing in the existing Schlegel Hall initiated the new housing project and simultaneously provided a solution to needed academic space. In 2000, the Seminary had launched a project to build a state-of-the-art academic building, which would provide more flexible learning space and faculty and administrative offices. The location of the building – overlooking Cherokee Park – included architectural challenges accompanied by a construction price tag to match, $10 million. Then, the project was put on hold during administrative transitions in the president’s office.
“When we began to address concerns with the dormitory in 2003, we suddenly realized that existing space, strategically located among our administrative and service buildings, already existed. We could renovate Schlegel into faculty offices and add flexible classrooms at a fraction of the cost,” said Cecil.
Of course, the plan involved displacing the few students living in Schlegel. So Cecil explored the possibility of a new residential structure situated among the existing housing units.
The new plan manifested thoughtful stewardship, too, with construction costs totaling $5.1 million for both the new building and the renovation of Schlegel, and an upgrade of the HVAC system in the campus powerhouse.
“I don’t think we could have come up with a more winning solution,” said Cathy Dawson, vice president for Seminary Relations. “We had raised approximately $2.5 million for the proposed academic building that could be transferred to provide better stewardship. The renovation of Schlegel provides nearly the same amount of space that the proposed academic building would, but at about one third of the cost. Our dear friends who committed gifts toward the original building are pleased with the Seminary’s wise decision and revision.”
Dawson added that ongoing fundraising for the project will continue aggressively in order to endow maintenance and upkeep and cover financing expenses.
The project also supports the Seminary’s goal to provide alternative delivery systems for its degree programs. While there are certainly many wonderful spaces for students all over the campus’ lush, park-like setting, an exclusive area where students can gather informally for discussions between classes or to enjoy a cup of coffee and watch TV or access the Internet does not exist. This lack of a dedicated student space was cited in the most recent SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and School) and ATS (Association of Theological Schools) accreditation reports. A gathering space will be very important to an evening and weekend program, so that students will have a place to go between classes and during breaks.
The design for the lower level of Schlegel lends itself beautifully to this purpose. The proposed classroom additions will be outfitted with wireless computer access for teaching. There will also be a series of small (10-15 people) break out rooms in the reconfigured building.
Cecil said that preliminary work is currently underway, “keeping the students who are living there now in mind.” Completion of the studio apartments is expected by January 2007, when the more extensive work on Schlegel will commence. The projected completion date for Schlegel Hall is the fall of 2007.
New buildings and expansion are signs of growth and momentum in the life of academic institutions. In reflecting on these changes in conjunction with new presidential leadership, James Lewis, executive director of The Louisville Institute described it this way:
“As the twenty-first century unfolds, Louisville Seminary is experiencing a new birth for this new century. The term, ‘renaissance,’ literally means ‘rebirth,’ and Louisville Seminary is experiencing just such a renaissance as we seek to re-shape theological education for the twenty-first century.”