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What construction slump? USF is booming

TAMPA

Construction is booming at the University of South Florida. Four projects will add nearly 475,000 square feet to the campus, about as much space as in a 35-story skyscraper. So how can USF afford $179 million in construction during a recession? Most is being paid for with state public education capital outlay funds, utility tax revenue budgeted years ago specifically for construction. Contractors are hungry, so "we really get to stretch the dollar," provost Ralph Wilcox said. And USF needs the space, administrators say. They cite a state analysis projecting that in 2012 USF will rank last among Florida public universities for having enough classrooms, teaching labs and especially research labs.

m Dr. Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions

What: 71,700 square feet, with a large auditorium for visiting lecturers.

Future home to: USF's global initiatives, the Confucius Institute, Center for India Studies and federally funded Center for the Study of International Languages and Cultures.

Cost: $24.9 million (gift from Patel, plus state match). Completion: December.

m Music Building

What: 113,500 square feet, with a 500-seat concert hall, 100-seat recital hall, practice rooms and classrooms. The concert hall is engineered to produce the best sound whether the performer is an acoustic guitarist or a loud jazz combo. "Probably the most sophisticated space just for music anywhere in the Tampa Bay area," said Ron Jones, dean of the USF College of the Arts.

History: More than 30 years in the making, once vetoed and later approved by then-Gov. Jeb Bush.

Cost: $46.6 million.

Completion: January 2011.

m Recreation Center expansion and dining facility

What: 51,100 square feet (75 percent recreation, 25 percent dining).

Why: The east side of campus has little student dining, and there's no training table for athletes. Also, the 2,000 students a day who use the rec center line up for exercise equipment. The expansion will roughly triple the space for fitness, creating room for activities like spinning, step aerobics and zumba.

Cost: $14.9 million (student fees).

Completion: July 2011.

m Interdisciplinary Science Teaching and Research Building

What: 238,500 square feet, with two 300-seat classrooms, smaller classrooms and labs. USF's largest building.

Why: Teaching labs are used from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., creating student bottlenecks.

Cost: $92.8 million.

Completion: August 2011.

Coming up

• The Pam and Les Muma Basketball Center, 50,000 square feet with practice and team facilities for men and women. Part of a $30 million package of facility upgrades that also includes football, baseball and softball. Paid for with gifts by the Mumas and others. Groundbreaking Wednesday. Expected to be completed late this year.

On the drawing board

• About 1,000 more beds of student housing.

On the wish list

• A $45.9 million learning center with classrooms, study and tutoring spaces and the latest learning and teaching technologies.

• At USF St. Petersburg, a multipurpose student center.

What construction slump? USF is booming 02/28/10 [Last modified: Monday, March 1, 2010 9:28am]

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