John Martellaro // Fall 2015

UMKC continues campus construction


As UMKC continues the march toward its enrollment growth goal of 20,000 students by 2020, construction activity is evident all over campus. Street closings, orange barrels, rumbling trucks and cranes reaching into the sky are signs of growth and progress. Here’s a look at some of the major projects under way or about to launch.

Launching the Enterprise

To meet the needs of budding entrepreneurs, UMKC will start preparing to build the Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center at the corner of Volker and Brookside boulevards. The $14.8 million center is designed to serve UMKC students, local entrepreneurs and middle school and high school students as a prototyping and product development hub and center for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education activities. The 28,000-square-foot facility will include laboratory space; rapid prototyping equipment, including 3D printers; and educational/collaborative space. Half of the funds are paid by the state, the other half by private donors.

Whole lot of Progress

Construction is officially under way for the 51 Oak project, which will bring a Whole Foods Market to Volker campus by 2017. Developers held a kickoff in late-June near the project site at 51st and Oak streets, directly west of the UMKC Administrative Center. The historic clubhouse of the Kansas City Young Matrons, built in 1936, will be lifted and moved to a new site near 52nd and Cherry streets. The ground floor of the three-acre project will feature a 42,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market grocery store. The project also includes 170 market-rate apartments, six floors of indoor parking and a new home for UMKC’s Student Health and Counseling Center.

ReNovation takes Center Stage

Work is well under way on a $5.5 million renovation of the Helen F. Spencer Theatre in UMKC’s James C. Olson Performing Arts Center, home of the Kansas City Repertory Theatre. The renovation — the first major upgrade since the theater opened in 1979 — will impact both audience and performance areas. Improvements include a new stage floor, new lighting and acoustic elements, and more than 5,000 square feet of new construction, including new restrooms, a second floor lounge and an expansion of the lobby. The project is expected to be completed in mid-November, in time for the Rep’s 2015 annual production of “A Christmas Carol.”

Chemistry, Biology Labs Upgrade

Planning is expected to continue on a $21.5 million renovation and modernization project for the university’s primary biology and chemistry teaching laboratories. State legislation approval this year included $18.3 million in bond funds for the laboratory renovations at UMKC’s Spencer Chemistry Building and Biological Sciences Building, which were originally constructed in 1968. The laboratories have not been renovated or updated since the 1980s. The project will renovate approximately 75,000 square feet of laboratory space, providing state-of-the-art core teaching laboratory spaces for sciences on UMKC’s Volker campus that will meet current lab standards and encourage collaborative learning.

Keep up to date on the progress of the downtown arts campus.


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