Southeast using student plans in construction of pedestrian plaza

Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Southeast Missouri State University plans to create a pedestrian area between Scully Hall, on the left, and Rhodes Hall, on the right. Blue areas next to the steps represent waterfalls. A sculpture, clock or fountain may go in the center circle. (Submitted image)

Southeast Missouri State University plans to transform a muddy, steep-staired, cracked-concrete eyesore between the Scully and Rhodes buildings into a pedestrian plaza using plans drawn up by students.

School officials hope the construction work and landscaping can be done next summer.

The project marks the first phase of a plan to beautify and relandscape the central pedestrian corridor that runs across part of the campus past the power plant. The corridor extends from the Rhodes/Scully area south to Cheney Drive near Academic Hall, school officials said.

"It will clean up and beautify an area that needs to be cleaned up," school president Dr. Ken Dobbins said. "We are very excited about this."

The new plaza will provide a "front entrance" to Scully Hall, said Dr. Dennis Holt, vice president of administration and enrollment management.

Students currently have to go down a set of steps to reach the front doors of the College of Education building. With the new plaza, students will be able to walk right to the front entrance without descending steps, Holt said.

The plaza will create an outdoor space where students can congregate, he said.

The first-phase design was developed by a team of five students majoring in construction management and agriculture. The pedestrian plaza includes a series of steps leading to a central plaza with a circular area in the middle that could feature a sculpture or possibly a clock or fountain. Those details, as well as the price tag, still have to be worked out, officials said.

The plan as currently envisioned would include two waterfalls, each bordering a section of steps and surrounded by landscaped grounds that will include evergreens and birch trees.

Dobbins said he likes the idea of more waterfalls on campus. The university has incorporated waterfalls into two university signs that flank the entrance to the campus at Broadway and Henderson Avenue. Southeast also has a fountain in front of Kent Library that has become a campus landmark.

"I like water. It is calming and a beautiful thing," Dobbins said.

Holt said the initial planning done by students will be turned over to another team of students who will develop more detailed construction plans this fall.

Ultimately, school officials plan to involve students in the construction management and in the construction where possible, Holt said. The students will work as paid interns on the project, he said.

The university's facilities management department will supervise the project. Southeast hopes to hire a contractor next spring to do the preliminary site work, Holt said.

"Students wouldn't be driving bulldozers and moving dirt," he said. A professional firm also would be needed to install any waterfalls, Holt said.

The board of regents approved the general design last week, but suggested the design needs to be revised to avoid creating pedestrian bottlenecks.

Still, several regents said they were impressed with the plan. "Conceptually, it is a great plan," regent Jim Limbaugh said.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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Mark Bliss
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