Boise State University has put together its to-do list for the next generation — a master plan that identifies new buildings and an expansion to the south.
Boise State, which today has 22,000 students, would be able to serve 30,000 to 35,000 under the 53-page plan (click this link to read it). It calls for adding 2 million square feet of new buildings to support academic departments, research programs and student services.
It also calls for 2,000 new student beds on campus. Older outlying student residences — the Towers Hall dorm and the University Park apartment complex west of Capitol Boulevard — would be closed. New “live-learn communities” would be built along University Drive, starting with a residential Honors College the state approved in August across University Drive from the Student Union Building.
Other new housing includes traditional dorms; student villages grouped around student interests, majors or organizations; and housing for graduate students.
The plan also proposes transportation, recreation, open space and infrastructure improvements, including a natatorium, a Greenbelt bridge, more Greenbelt connections and a library expansion.
When Boise State University was founded in 1932 as a junior college, the campus faced the Boise River, with academic buildings on three sides of a quadrangle and the river on the fourth. The new plan would remove Riverfront Hall to reopen the quad to the Greenbelt and the river.
The plan would reconfigure University Drive at the center of campus from a heavily traveled street to a traditional, mostly vehicle-free university mall lined with academic buildings. Expanded pedestrian paths throughout the campus would connect academic quadrangles within a five-minute walk of the mall.
To reduce vehicle parking and traffic in the central core, streets — including a new east-west street running west from the University-Lincoln intersection — and three new parking garages would be located closer to campus entrances.
The university would expand its footprint south to Boise Avenue and Beacon Road.
FIRST PHASE UNDER WAY
The plan is divided into three phases of roughly 10 years apiece. Four buildings in Phase 1 are already in the works:
▪ Alumni and Friends Center Building: This four-story, 40,000-square-foot building now under construction south of Albertsons Stadium will house alumni, university advancement and communications departments and the Boise State Foundation. Construction should be complete by summer.
▪ Honors College: This five-story 239,000-square-foot building with classrooms, offices, dorms and dining space at the corner of University Drive and Lincoln Avenue was approved by the Boise Planning and Zoning Commission on Nov. 9. Construction on the $43 million building is expected to start early next year.
▪ Fine Arts Building: This five-story, 97,222-square-foot building off Capitol Boulevard between the Micron Building and the Towers dorm was approved by the Boise Design Review Committee on Oct. 14. Construction is tentatively set for late 2017.
▪ Center for Materials Science Research Building: This is still in the planning and design phase and has not been submitted to the city for approval. Construction is tentatively set for spring 2017 on University Drive, between Denver and Grant avenues.
THE CITY’S ROLE
The university has spent nearly two years putting together this plan, holding planning meetings with students, faculty, neighbors and other stakeholders, said Boise State Capital Planning and Space Management Director Christy Jordan. University planners held a workshop with Boise City Council in March.
The State Board of Education signed off on the plan in August.
Next, the city must approve incorporating the plan and the university’s expanded footprint into the city’s comprehensive plan, which serves as the guide for Boise development. Three of the four projects in the works have received city approval under the existing comprehensive plan.
Once Boise’s Planning and Zoning Commission completes its hearing process and makes a recommendation on the new plan, the application will go before the Boise City Council. That hearing is tentatively set for Tuesday, Jan. 12.
On Monday at a zoning hearing, BSU will ask the city to rezone 11.56 acres comprising 39 parcels between Lincoln and Boise avenues from residential to university district under the existing comprehensive plan. About 207 acres are currently zoned university.
Have your say
The city invites residents to comment on Boise State’s master plan at a Boise Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing at 6 p.m. Monday in the Boise City Hall Council Chambers, third floor, 150 N. Capitol Blvd.