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Regents approve UNK library project, update to Greek housing

A proposed renovation project would make UNK’s Calvin T. Ryan Library more accessible and...
A proposed renovation project would make UNK’s Calvin T. Ryan Library more accessible and visually appealing. This rendering shows the revamped west entrance.(UNK)
Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 3:20 PM CDT
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KEARNEY, Neb. (PRESS RELEASE) - The University of Nebraska Board of Regents gave its approval Friday to a major renovation project that will modernize the University of Nebraska at Kearney library.

The roughly $25 million project will enhance Calvin T. Library’s role as the center of learning on campus by creating an inviting and engaging environment that combines physical collections with new technology while devoting more space to group and individual study areas.

Opened in 1963, the nearly 100,000-square-foot building has remained largely unchanged for the past 30-plus years. The remodeled space will better meet the needs of students, staff and faculty and support the library’s shift from physical to online access for many resources. Adding more efficient storage for the library’s physical collections will reduce operating costs and provide additional room for other services and resources.

The project includes:

  • Well-defined, welcoming entrances that make the building more accessible and visually appealing
  • A redesigned main level that improves student access to resources and services
  • Instructional labs, collaborative work areas and study spaces for both individuals and groups
  • Staff work areas that are better suited for a modern library
  • Improved access to the UNK archives and special collections
  • Space for university and community programs, exhibits and other outreach activities

The renovation will allow the library to serve as a hub for academic support services by bringing existing UNK programs together in a single location. The library currently houses the Learning Commons and Mitchell Center, where the Department of Communication is located.

Calvin T. Ryan Library is also in need of cosmetic and mechanical upgrades. The renovation will update the lighting, flooring, ceilings, paint, furniture, restrooms, IT infrastructure and HVAC systems, extending the building’s useful life and increasing energy efficiency.

Construction is expected to start in summer 2022 and be completed in summer 2024. The renovation is planned as a multiphase project, allowing library operations to continue during the work.

A priority project for UNK Student Government for several years, the library renovation will be funded by bonds issued through LB384, a recently passed bill that extends a state-university partnership addressing deferred maintenance needs across the NU system.

FRATERNITY AND SORORITY HOUSING

The Board of Regents also approved an update to UNK’s fraternity and sorority housing project during Friday’s meeting.

That project replaces the current fraternity and sorority housing – University Residence North (URN) and University Residence South (URS) – through a combination of new construction and a renovation of Martin Hall.

Because of unforeseen impacts to the construction market caused by the global pandemic, the price tag for that project increased from $26.65 million to $32.65 million. The additional money ensures the project can proceed as planned, creating a high-quality housing option for students that lasts for decades to come.

The updated plan also adds about 5,000 additional square feet to the project and expands the number of chapter rooms, giving each organization living in the housing their own dedicated space. Martin Hall will be about 42,500 square feet and the new residence hall, to be located directly north of Martin, will be around 41,200 square feet.

The new fraternity and sorority housing complex is located just east of the Nebraskan Student Union, putting some of UNK’s most active students directly next to a hub of social activity on campus.

Proposed opening dates are January 2023 for Martin Hall and August 2023 for the new residence hall. URN and URS will be razed after the new complex is complete.

Funding for the housing project comes from facilities reserves, nonrevolving funds and an internal lending program.

The new Fraternity and Sorority Life housing complex includes a renovated Martin Hall, left,...
The new Fraternity and Sorority Life housing complex includes a renovated Martin Hall, left, and construction of a new residence hall, right, directly east of the Nebraskan Student Union.(UNK Communications)

FACILITIES STORAGE BUILDING

UNK is purchasing the long-term lease for the former Kmart property at 2900 W. 24th St.

Formerly used as an office/warehouse building, the commercial structure will serve as the new equipment storage and maintenance area for UNK Facilities Management. Located along U.S. Highway 30, the property provides a safer site for trucks making deliveries and allows UNK to consolidate its operations, saving money and improving efficiency.

“This is a much more functional and cost-effective way of housing our equipment,” Chancellor Doug Kristensen said.

UNK will tear down the existing facilities equipment building just east of Discovery Hall.

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