Steven James / Senior Staff Writer
UNT’s Master Plan, which was updated in 2013, continues to expand with the amount of construction, renovations and planning of the campus’ new union.
The plan aims to accommodate student enrollment growth, enhance UNT’s identity as a university and improve the university’s architecture, landscape and sustainability resources, according to the Master Plan final report.
Associate vice president for facilities David Reynolds said there is no end date or budget for certain parts of the project, but that planning will continue until the goals of improving UNT’s image are met.
“This is a guide,” Reynolds said. “It gives you kind of a living document that is locked in stone. It’s a big campus. We’re a big institution.”
One of the major aspects of the Master Plan is expanding the University Union, a $128 million project paid for by student fees.
Union director Zane Reif said the Union is expected to open Aug. 20, and construction is still on schedule. However, in an interview with the North Texas Daily, University President Neal Smatresk said construction may be delayed until October.
Since 2013 construction crews have worked non-stop to build our new Union. Some of the building’s framework was kept and others, like the new Lyceum, were created from scratch.
“We want to make this a weekend destination for students,” Reif said. “It’ll be a pretty cool building here, pretty quick.”
He said the old Union was designed for a student population of 17,000 but the new Union will better accommodate the increasing population of the school.
Some aspects of the old Union will return, including Wells Fargo and Barnes & Noble. Additions include a Burger King, a Taco Bueno, a computer shop with Apple products, a Starbuck’s and a Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. Students will have more access to food on weekends when the dining halls are closed.
“It’ll be very convenient for students to go back and forth between the Union and dining,” Reif said.
Other features of the new Union include a video conferencing room, an outdoor roof terrace and a large ballroom, Reif said.
Reif said the Offices of the Dean, Student Legal Services, the Multicultural Center and Leadership and Service will all move back into the new Union.
Students will be able to take tours of the Union for the first time March 11 during Union Fest, with events all day starting at 8 a.m.
President Smatresk said he hopes it is done in time to deliver his state of the university address in the new building.
Reif said a social media marketing campaign was launched to get the word out about the Union. People who would like to know more information can go to www.studentaffairs.unt.edu/university-union-master-plan.
The UNT Board of Regents first approved the plan for the Union in 2013 when V. Lane Rawlins was still president as a plan to improve UNT’s image as a university. A Master Planning committee, which consisted of university officials and students, created the plan.
Campus Master Plan
To update the 2005 Master Plan, university officials in 2012 collected data, held workshops and interviewed students to determine which parts of the university needed expansion to meet four bold goals: to improve the undergraduate experience, give more education and scholarship opportunities, become a leading university in the U.S. and to establish UNT as a national and regional leader.
“Most universities and cities will have master plans to see all development,” Reynolds said. “It’s a vision of where we might go with the campus.”
Some aspects of the plan have already been completed, including the openings of Chestnut Hall in 2007 and Apogee Stadium in 2011.
The Master Plan accounts for 45,000 students to attend the university and makes projections as far ahead as 2020. Student enrollment currently sits at 34,163.
The plan includes steps to expand parking and biking areas, plant trees, extend the Library Mall and building more student housing, including Rawlins Hall, which is near completion.
“There is not a price tag for all development costs,” Reynolds said. “We get what balances and finances may be available. This is a plan for growth, not future costs.”
Some students, though, are not happy with the progress of the Master Plan.
“I think that making the campus bigger and continuing generating revenue comes from the amount of debt that we have,” undecided sophomore Roy Flores said. “I think that’s why we’re so revenue-based now.”
Featured Image: The Union comes closer to completion each day as workers continue to build the massive structure. Photos by Byron Thompson – Senior Staff Photographer