Every project underway at the University of Wyoming has a need for landscaping, same as any business in Laramie, but the campus can sometimes stray away from the city codes.
Regardless of city code, landscaping at UW is expensive — it can take a large portion of a new construction project’s budget. The upcoming High Altitude Performance Center, set to begin construction in November, has an estimated $130,000 landscaping budget. The Arena-Auditorium renovation landscaping is estimated at $230,000.
The two projects are set for a similar construction timeframe, so there is now a re-design underway to combine the two landscaping efforts at a cost of about $16,900, said Larry Blake, deputy director of facilities architecture.
“What we’ve done is create a separate project,” he said. “Since the two projects are on almost the same timeline and are built almost adjacent to each other, there was some feeling that we should have one guiding vision with a single landscape architect project.”
However, this was not originally anticipated and could cost UW. The associated cost of designing a single project could create problems with implementation, UW Board of Trustee Member Mike Massie said.
“It was hard to envision one landscaping design without taking into account the other,” he said. “(Vice President for Administration) Bill Mai reported at our meeting in Saratoga that that separate effort had started and was progressing, but he was concerned there might not be sufficient funding to implement the entire design.”
These landscaping projects will likely fit within Laramie’s Unified Development Code, Laramie Principle Planner Charles Bloom said.
“The general rule of thumb is, (UW) exceeds the landscaping requirements,” he said. “Most of the buildings do. But a lot are exempt, like those related to the core mission.”
The core mission is normally directly related to education. The Engineering Building, just about to begin construction, is a prime example — it directly benefits education of UW students, Bloom said. On the other hand, parking lots must conform to code. But UW and the city have made agreements in the past to change or waive some of the requirements in lieu of other landscaping promises.
The Wyoming Union parking lot off of 15th Street is an example, said Mark Collins, associate vice president for administrative operations.
“In the past, we’ve been as vigilant as we can with the rules and regulations outlined by the (Unified Development Code),” he said. “There’s also a process by which you begin to work with city staff to enter into some negotiations to see if there are any options or waivers given the nature of a project. We worked for such a waiver for the Union parking lot.”
Currently, the lot is a large, flat concrete area with no landscaping features in the middle. Two bus terminals lie at the western side. However, a row of trees separate the lot from the road, which was part of the agreement, Collins said.
“Because of the adjacency of landscaping to the roadway and the generous amount around the Business Building, Coe Library, the (Wyoming Union) and Half Acre Gym, we were allowed to waive certain requirements,” he said.
After such designs are done, likely toward the end of the construction phase, UW will submit them to the city same as any other business or organization in the city.
And even if exempt buildings don’t need to follow city regulations, there is a long-term plan in place for ensuring top-notch landscaping in the area around the Engineering Building and the Michael B. Enzi STEM Building, Blake said.
“We want some planning to guide that strip, not short-term solutions,” he said.