Trustees authorize planning for building renovations, additions in upper campus

The Western Carolina University Board of Trustees has given its unanimous approval to allow university officials to proceed with planning and design for renovations and additions to Buchanan Residence Hall and Brown Building in the historic upper part of the Cullowhee campus.

Work on the 56-year-old Buchanan Residence Hall will include renovation of existing space, which now provides 180 beds, and an addition of space for 300 beds to create an updated residence facility with 480 beds. The project is currently authorized with a $48 million price tag, but actual construction cost estimates will not be available until advance planning and initial design is complete.

The 53-year-old Brown Building will be updated for use as a modern student dining facility. The building was originally used as a cafeteria, but dining operations moved out of the structure in 2010 when the university opened Courtyard Dining Hall in the central campus area. The 30,240-square-foot building will be renovated and an additional 25,000 square feet of space will be added to house food services and dining, plus residential living administration, student organization offices, room for student activities and student support units.

The Brown Building project also will include site work to improve pedestrian circulation, parking and a steam plant to service Brown and adjacent buildings. That new steam plant will allow some of the workload to be taken off the university’s primary steam plant. The estimated cost of the Brown Building project is $22.5 million.

Both projects have been approved by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors and were included in the campus master plan that was approved by the trustees in December. The trustees’ vote to proceed with planning and design came during their quarterly meeting held Friday, March 7.

The two projects will be self-liquidating, meaning they will be fee-supported and not funded through state appropriations.

The process of selecting designers for the two projects will begin immediately, with the Brown project scheduled to be completed by fall 2016 and the Buchanan project expected to be finalized by fall 2017.