Ad Hoc Meeting Brings Revisions to University Construction Plans

constructionSIPA II Aerial | via FIU Flickr

Andres Davila | News Director

With the implementation of the Campus Master Plan in June, the Board of Trustees Ad Hoc Committee held a meeting on Dec. 14 to discuss plan advancements.

The Campus Master Plan is a plan currently being drafted to understand what the university will look like until 2030, based on Facilities Management.

The draft contains 17 elements, including plans from urban designs to research facilities, to expand upon the university’s landscape.

During a BOT meeting in June, Board Chair Roger Tovar mentioned the idea of generating a committee for campus improvements on the master plan. 

“The Board of Trustees wanted to be more directly involved in the process of putting together the Campus Master Plan, which it usually isn’t,” said SGA President Alexander Sutton in an interview with PantherNOW.

The Campus Master Plan Ad Hoc Committee was then implemented to further make suggestions and get involved in the development of the university in the Modesto A. Maidique Campus, Biscayne Bay Campus, and the Engineering Center.

Present at the meeting were Board Chair Tovar and trustees Natasha Lowell, Alan Gonzalez, Elizabeth Bejar, Javier Marques, and Marc D. Sarnoff. President Jessell was also in attendance for Thursday’s meeting

The associate vice president for Facilities Management, John Cal, was also present during the meeting and provided an overview of the plan for the meeting. 

According to the minutes of the meeting, “the focus of the plan is from 2015-2030 but there are plans for buildings beyond the 2030 timeline. He emphasized the importance of flexibility and opportunity with the master plan.”

Housing development was in the talks of the meeting as Cal proposed two areas of future housing at MMC. The first concept was to combine the upcoming Honors College building project with student housing, having a similar structure to Tamiami Hall. 

“The Honors College project could potentially be a 16-story building and if parking were included it could reach up from 20-22 stories high,” Cal described at the meeting.

Trustee Sarnoff had concerns regarding the height limitations of buildings from state legislation, presenting “proper considerations” to be measured before deciding on a project in that regard.

Another vital topic discussed in the meeting was the collaboration between the College of Medicine and Baptist Hospital and the proposal of a clinical center on campus.

On the report of the meeting, “Baptist made a commitment of up to $100M for facility 54 A on the campus map and the parking garage. He [Cal] mentioned that while working with Baptist it was estimated that the parking garage will cost between $212M to $227M, and that a second phase of the clinical partnership center including health and research buildings would potentially increase the total to reach a $1B development.”

Facility 54 A would be in correspondence to the area around University Apartments, which would be bulldozed for the clinical center.

“With the space that they’re going to have by bulldozing, they’re going to build a clinic. After that, the honors housing is going to make up for the deficit of beds that were bulldozed in University Apartments,” Sutton said.

The decision to build a clinical center has not been made yet as several Trustee members assured to observe the development of the relationship with the hospital.

The biggest takeaway from the meeting was a potential aquatic center as a part of the athletics recreation plan John Cal presented. 

Cal presented four different options for the on-campus pool, with the consideration of Tamiami Park as a place for both the center and track. One of the options, which is being across the Graham Center, was agreed upon many.

Sutton agreed to the aquatic center being near the Graham Center as it will increase student life. 

As for the track, the design options are similar to the aquatic center, but there can be an alternative solution on the soccer field to alleviate the issue of a missing track.

“You would have track but not field in terms of the sport, but you would have a track and students could run around it. Again, it would not be an ideal scenario. I think there would also be problems with the quality of the track, but it is the most immediate possibility,” Sutton said when discussing the ongoing issue of a missing track on campus.

Board Chair Tovar mentioned how the collaboration with Miami-Dade County for the construction of an aquatic center and track in Tamiami Park would be complex in terms of balancing community and student use. However, President Jessell mentioned Miami-Dade County showing interest in the development of a track.

Cal provided revisions for the master plan and brought up the potential of a public hearing in February 2024, followed by 90 days for public comments. These public comments would later allow for a master plan revision to be presented based on the comments.

This was the last meeting for the Ad Hoc Committee of the year. The next meeting involving the Board of Trustees will be on Feb. 29, 2024.

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