Long-term plans for new University of Wyoming residence halls are moving forward for legislative review.

UW administration and the Board of Trustees began discussions after a legislative mandate made during the 2014 budget session requiring a report about possible plans for future residence hall construction be submitted by Oct. 1.

Five different concepts were submitted to the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Interim Committee and Joint Education Interim Committee. Spacing and location is the major difference — the first concept restricts the design within the current residence hall complex footprint.

“It’s a culmination of the consultants designing some fundamental information about the cost and building details of a new residence hall complex,” Trustee Mike Massie said. “Options two, three and four are the result of additional discussions after the consultants delivered the initial report to the university.”

Mahlum Architects was hired to conduct a study of UW’s housing and dining needs.

Their study, the first concept in the report, restricted construction space to within the current footprint, which lead to several complaints from legislators and trustees, the report states.

“Restricting the new facilities to the same footprint still required residence halls that are six stories in height,” it states. “Moreover, to achieve the needed inventory, the buildings would still be placed very close to Grand Avenue … continuing the “industrial” type presence for both students and the public travelling nearby.”

One major complaint was Grand Avenue itself, Massie said.

“One of the points made was, someone wanted to see some setback so the new residency halls are not built right on top of the street,” he said. “They want to move them further to the north to allow more room for landscaping and trees.”

While UW is currently searching for state funding, it normally supports itself through student fees, Massie said.

“The University of Wyoming has never asked for state funds to help support the residence halls,” he said. “They’ve all been self supporting, including the upgrade of those halls over the last 50 years. However, tearing the current residencies down and constructing a whole new set is well beyond the ability of the university to pay for it with internal funding,”

While several plans were included, all have the same phase one component as a starting point, the report states, possibly allowing for changes in the future. The entire project will likely take 8-10 years to fully complete, as most residence halls will need to remain open to accommodate UW freshmen. The end goal is to house about 2,000 students in the complex.

The current residence halls, meant to house all first-year freshmen, were built about 50 years ago. The buildings’ design focused on small rooms with community restrooms. New buildings would place more of an emphasis on having two single rooms share a common bathroom.

All five plans feature a parking structure and power plant, said Bill Mai, vice president of administration, during a Wednesday trustee’s meeting.

“One of the key components on this phase one is that distributed physical plant or central energy plant kind of concept with the parking garage to the east of the IT building,” he said. “That is a cornerstone of all the various options that were presented in that report.”

This report is a summary of level one planning, which is very conceptual, said spokesperson Chad Baldwin. The next level would involve more site-specific planning, would need $3 million from the Legislature to proceed.

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