The Journalism School’s $30 million Knight Hall, having originally been announced in 2006, is now complete. According to the school’s press release, a few spaces in the building won’t be quite complete later this semester but we’re happy to see UMD’s planned west mall (to take the place of lot 1) starting to take shape. It’s expected to be the first building on campus to be certified LEED gold for its many environmental features. Truly a word class facility for one of the nation’s top journalism programs.
For some reason UMD decided to maintain a rather sizable parking lot between the new building and the Benjamin Building (education school) directly to the east. This is blatantly contrary to the stated vision of the Campus Master Plan to make such intimate spaces pedestrian areas. It’s a strange juxtaposition when you consider the parking lot is adjacent to a very environmentally friendly courtyard next to night hall that uses recycled rain water.
Despite UMD’s expansive Campus Bicycle Plan only one rack was installed next to the building. It holds a measly 6 bikes. Either journalism students don’t bike to class or UMD-DOTS is not as fully engaged as they claim to be in the bicycle parking placement process.
As many are well aware, RTCP is in semi-hibernation mode at the moment. We’re planning on a kickoff meeting to discuss the future of the site sometime in May. Until then there are a couple tid-bits to report despite the dampened state of the real estate market. Thanks to everyone who continues to email and post comments about all the great changes coming to the city….
-> Starview Plaza – The Diamondback reports that Starview Plaza is progressing through the early stages of the approval process. The project, which sits just north of College Park Carwash, has languished for years (at least 5?) and the underlying land is owned jointly by the City and University. Originally planned as a hotel, the developer now plans a 500-bed mixed use student housing project with an impressive LEED Silver rating. As the Diamondback reports, there has been much debate over exactly what materials should be used on the facade. The Sector Plan requires 75% brick and as the Mazza Grandmarc debate showed us, the city and the county in particular hold tightly to that standard regardless of how visible certain parts of the building are. The choice is between hardyplank – a composite of recycled materials which helps a buildings LEED rating – and brick (an energy-intensive material) on the least visible parts of the building. Let’s hope the county council departs from its absolutist ways by avoiding unneccessary delays…
-> Campus Construction – The University has released an updated campus construction map, which shows progress on several different projects we’ve blogged about over time. The new journalism building is progressing, the Tyser Tower expansion at Byrd Stadium is underway, and improvements to the Southwest quad and in front of the business school are coming to a close. Also, North Gate Park, a project mired in bureaucracy, funding constraints, and development SNAFUS for the better part of four years is scheduled to start construction this summer. North Gate Park is a joint venture between the city and university and was designed by undergraduate students.
-> Parking – Recognizing the serious burden that parking requirement place on private developers of student housing, UMD-DOTS via the university’s strategic plan has agreed that students at select off-campus housing complexes can park on-campus. This is a smart move that we think could pay serious dividends by encouraging more student housing. Building lots on Route 1 are small and shallow, thus making the provision of suburban-style parking ratios extremely difficult for dense mixed-use projects. Hopefully the city/county can capitalize on this new policy to implement their Transportation Demand Management plans.
-> Purple Line – There are signs that Campus Drive advocates are making serious inroads. More to come shortly.
The Philip Merrill College of Journalism has announced a $4.4 million gift from the Knight Foundation (founded by what is now Night Ridder). $2.4 million of the gift will go towards establishing a new journalism institute and bolstering funding for existing Knight-initiatives. The remaining money will be added to $3 million previously donated by the foundation to meet the $5 million required to name the J-School’s new building John S. and James L. Knight Hall. The building will have a prominent location on the university’s planned west mall adjacent to the Art-Soc building and the nearby traffic circle. Expected completion: 2009.