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Remodel or new construction?

University Business, July 2013

Many colleges and universities are tempted to revamp buildings because there isn’t enough space to construct new, technology-rich facilities. But sometimes, the amount of renovation required can drive costs so high that it may be less expensive to build something new.

That was the situation at Gulf Coast State College (Fla). College president James Kerley explains that an early candidate for a new technology center was a building from the 1960s that was being used as a tech hub.

“When we looked at the costs involved with trying to make the building work, it didn’t make sense to go to all that effort for a building that may not suit our needs in the end,” he says. “So, we tore it down and built the new technology center there.”

The Advanced Technology Center, being completed this summer, has a sleek, contemporary look that’s appealing not just to the campus community, but also to local businesses, who use the space for meetings and conferences, he says.

Of course, some buildings are too historic or well-established on a campus to be razed, and in that case, it makes sense to invest more funds into a major renovation effort. For example, Western Kentucky University recently announced that work had begun on a $49 million renovation of its Downing University Center, which opened in 1970. The building will be renovated in phases, and one major aspect of the revamp will be larger meeting rooms with new technology.