Public Universities Making Big Investments in New Facilities

It’s no secret that modern and luxurious buildings make college campuses more attractive to prospective and current students, alumni, and donors. Universities aren’t just places for classrooms and dormitories these days; they’re venues for lazy rivers, climbing walls, and country club-style amenities, too.

Some architecture firms have supported the idea that architecture can spark creativity and that high-tech buildings can propel innovative ideas. Meanwhile, colleges continue to pour millions into athletic stadiums, even during times when state legislatures are cutting taxpayer support for higher education.

But whatever the motivation is behind the investments, public universities have been borrowing and spending record amounts on new buildings. In this article, we take a look at which public universities have been spending big bucks on building upgrades and new facilities lately.

Wichita State University – Wichita, Kansas
This is one of many universities that has faced state cutbacks and had to raise tuition to keep up with its ambitious building plans. The big project worth talking about here is the Innovation Campus, which is projected to increase the campus’ size by 50 percent and take two decades to build.

The Experiential Engineering building will allow students to engage in hands-on learning, the GoCreate makerspace will offer education in metalworking and woodworking, and a 3D immersive lab is being planned by the Dassault Systemes software company. The overall goal of all these building projects is to enhance the pipeline from education to the real world in order for students to fuel innovation and the entrepreneurship economy.


Kent State University – Kent, Ohio
According to Kent State’s website, the university has a total of 25 projects under design or construction right now. The school is working with various design firms and construction contractors on the projects, which range in budgets from $255,000 to $38.5 million. One of the biggest projects under construction involves multiple science buildings renovations and an addition to Cunningham, Smith, and Williams Halls and the Integrated Sciences Building.


Miami University – Oxford, Ohio
Another public Ohio school that has been making big changes is Miami University Oxford, which has been demolishing and renovating dozens of buildings in recent years. For example, 2014 was an especially busy construction year for the school, accumulating more than $182 million in projects like new dorms, dining halls, and a student center. More recently, renovations have been taking place at Hamilton Hall, a new north quad residence hall, Hughes Hall’s west wing for a new lab space, and numerous other locations.


Video tour of the inside of the Gunlock Family Athletic Performance Center


University of Utah – Salt Lake City, Utah
A live-work building called Lassonde Studios recently opened up at the University of Utah and features pods, lofts, and single or double rooms for undergraduate and graduate students. What makes this new building project interesting is that each floor has a different theme based on university priorities, such as sustainability and digital media. Instead of formal classrooms, this building has ground-floor workshops with 3D printers, prototyping tools, and an entrepreneurship institute.


Of course, this is just a small sampling of the universities making significant infrastructure investments, and plenty of private institutions like Drexel University have also been betting big on buildings lately. Has your alma mater or a university near you been making big strides with construction and development recently? Share some details with us in the comment section below!

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