Campus construction coming to fruition

As one of USF’s 10 construction projects nears completion, another one is just getting started.

The outer walls of the new Music Teaching and Performance building, which is scheduled to open in spring 2011, are complete. The $46.6 million building – funded by Public Education Capital Outlay funds from the state – will feature a 500-seat performance hall and additional classroom space for instrumental, choral and jazz instruction, said Associate Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts Barton Lee.

Paint colors for the building – located on USF Magnolia Drive – were recently selected and are on display at the construction site.

“We have had a number of tours through the building for potential students, candidates we brought in for potential hiring and a number of university administration officials,” Lee said.

Across campus, a groundbreaking ceremony for what will be known as the USF Student Wellness and Nutrition Center’s newest phase is scheduled for April 28, said Campus Recreation Center (CRC) Director Eric Hunter.

The first phase of the center – a new basketball gym – is also nearing completion. The two-court gym is adjacent to CRC and includes a 480-foot suspended running track above the courts.

The new phase includes renovations to the existing CRC and a dining facility that serves all students.

“This is near one of the largest commuter parking lots on campus, and we know a lot of commuter students look for eating options that are not fast food,” Hunter said.

The dining facility, which is tentatively named “Southeast Dining Facility,” will be attached to the Sun Dome, similar to other buffet-style halls on campus – like the Argos Fresh Food Company – and offer healthier dining options, Hunter said.

“We want to try to teach people about healthy eating options, so there will be a vegan station and a fresh vegetable station,” he said. A smoothie vendor will also be available.

It will include 250 seats with moveable walls that can divide the dining area into rooms for athletic team meetings or meals.

The facility will also be used for cooking burgers and hot dogs for Sun Dome concessions stands and providing nutritional classes, he said.

“We think this space will give us the place to hold classes in the evening, after the facility closes, where a nutritionist can come in and maybe do some sample cooking,” Hunter said.

The facility is financed by the Capital Improvement Trust Fund – money the state accumulates from student credit hours and gives to universities in a bulk sum every few years, he said.

Construction of the wellness center and CRC costs about $14.9 million – 25 percent funds the dining facility, while the remaining 75 percent is for renovations of CRC, Hunter said.

Renovations include replacing the basketball gymnasium with a bicycle workout room, adding group workout spaces, expanding the upper floor with more equipment and creating a bigger entryway to the gym.

The building will open in July 2011.