HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Preliminary ideas for Marshall University's 10-year master plan include demolishing and renovating buildings to provide more high-tech classrooms and research space, expanding housing and athletic facilities and making improvements to parking and pedestrian safety.
Representatives from SmithGroup JJR, a Michigan-based architectural firm, presented Huntington community members and Marshall students and faculty a first glimpse at some of the recommendations that could be made in September, when the draft of the master plan will be finalized.
SmithGroup is already assessing the condition of eight buildings on campus, and is exploring the demolition of the vacant Hodges Hall as soon as this summer. Plans for demolition of Holderby and Laidley halls also are possibilities for new student housing facilities.
"Every campus needs to look at providing the best facilities they can so that they can provide the best education they can," said Mary Jukuri, principal of SmithGroup. "Facilities help support education -- especially advanced technology classrooms, and the physical environment can really help support the mission of a university in terms of providing more research facilities and access to students across the country.
"The core of the campus right now is beautiful, but we'd like to see that character and landscape quality on other parts of campus as well."
While the student-parking spot ratio is average among its peer universities, an overhaul of Marshall's current parking structure also will be considered as part of the master plan because parking now "is never located in the right place," Jukuri said.
"You can never find a parking spot," she said. "We have enough parking for the number of users, but the spaces aren't utilized."
SmithGroup is also working with transportation officials to explore the possibility of modifying the roadways near the downtown campus so that there are safer pedestrian walkways and easier connectivity. Pedestrians currently have trouble crossing Third and Fifth avenues, officials said.