USU unveils phase 1 design for local campus
by Molly Marcello
Contributing Writer
Oct 30, 2014 | 4666 views | 0 0 comments | 51 51 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Phase one of USU-Moab’s future campus focuses on sustainability by harvesting rainwater and using a geothermal energy system. The design of the buildings features materials intended to evoke the desert landscape, such as self-rusting steel pop-outs that match the red rock mesa rising up behind the property. Image courtesy of EDA Architects
Phase one of USU-Moab’s future campus focuses on sustainability by harvesting rainwater and using a geothermal energy system. The design of the buildings features materials intended to evoke the desert landscape, such as self-rusting steel pop-outs that match the red rock mesa rising up behind the property. Image courtesy of EDA Architects
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USU-Moab presented its final design for phase one of its new campus last week, revealing a facility that will focus on sustainability by using natural resources in an integrated permaculture system. The campus will develop in several phases, and phase one will provide a facility capable of serving 350 new students, according to USU-Moab Dean Steve Hawks.

Hawks described the final design as “beautiful and efficient; something that will help us move forward in a major way.”

He told those gathered at an Oct. 22 presentation that the USU administration is “fully committed to this project.”

The new campus will offer specialty four-year higher education programs and master’s degrees in fields like geology, recreation resource management, and tourism and hospitality management. The campus, said Hawks, will appeal “to locals and to out of area students who want to study different disciplines at USU-Moab.”

In its later phases, the future USU-Moab campus could develop into 426,000-square-feet of future buildings, with a potential student population of 3,500. Hawks said the current USU-Moab campus located on 200 South will continue its commitment to adult education, extension and tech programs.

“The vision of the campus will not lose sight of its primary mission, which is to support the needs of rural Utah,” Hawks said.

For now, the first campus building will include six classrooms, six seminar rooms, several laboratories, a student commons and administration and faculty offices. Because the campus will be located adjacent to 326 acres of property owned by the Utah School and Institutional State Lands Trust Administration (SITLA), USU considers the campus development a joint project with SITLA, Hawks said. As USU grows, so will SITLA’s projects, which will build both student and mixed-use housing. Hawks said the intent is “to develop student housing in tandem with campus growth.”

Robert Herman, a principal architect for the new campus, said creating a “sense of place unique to Moab,” was the main goal of the design team at EDA Architects. To create that sense of place, the architects used materials that evoke the desert landscape, such as self-rusting steel pop-outs that match the red rock mesa that rises up behind the property. The steel pop-outs will also prevent hot afternoon sun from dominating the building, according to Herman.

The campus clock tower, which Herman said could function as a sundial or a climbing wall, will be visually distinct enough to be seen from the highway, serving to create that “immediate sense of place” within and without the campus.

Oliver Callis, an architectural intern at EDA, said the campus will have a “vibrant sense of the outdoors while indoors.” The use of large windows will blur lines between exterior and interior space, while also saving energy costs in favor of natural lighting. The second floor of the building will have an access bridge to the outside, and all of the classrooms will look out onto native trees and plants.

Callis said the building will use many integrated systems that work with the natural landscape to create a healthy ecosystem.

By obtaining energy from sustainable sources, the campus will “institutionalize sustainability in students, faculty, and staff,” Callis said.

Water harvesting will be central to campus sustainability by using a combination of swales (water harvesting ditches), cisterns, and acequias (a canal system that transports water to plants). The campus will not import any water to irrigate its own landscape, as the rainfall collected from the first building will support 1,200 square feet of drought-resistant grass for an outdoor commons while also irrigating the surrounding landscape. Greywater from hand-washing sinks and outdoor bike showers will also feed into the gardens.

Callis says the rainwater will naturally support the trees and shrubs — such as elderberries, figs, and apricots — that will be planted. A bike and pedestrian trail that will connect the campus to central Moab will also serve as a swale to store water and grow more native plants, he said.

The campus will also produce its own energy with a geothermal heating and cooling system, thereby reducing future energy costs. To create that system, several holes will be bored 100- to 300-feet deep into the landscape to provide heating and cooling using the earth’s near-constant underground temperature. A pump with radiant fluid will circulate the geothermal energy throughout the building, bringing warm air in the winter and cool air in the summer. In the future, the campus might even produce more energy than it uses, potentially through solar paneling its roofs.

Before USU can build its sustainable Moab campus, according to Hawks the “most complicated piece” — building infrastructure — must be tackled. Because USU is constructing the campus on an undeveloped site, infrastructure such as water, sewer, power and Internet must be set in place.

Moab City Manager Donna Metzler said the infrastructure and the campus will cost a total of about $11 million, with the infrastructure piece costing about $4 million and the campus costing $7 million. The funding will come from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund Board (CIB), and private sources. The CIB funds would go towards needed infrastructure and the private funding will be associated with various other components of the building.

“[So far], we have about $1.425 million of the $4 million in infrastructure figured out for funding,” Metzler said.

That means construction for an intersection of U.S. 191 and Mill Creek Drive could possibly move forward soon, according to USU officials.

Hawks expressed confidence that USU has developed the momentum to solve these infrastructure and funding issues.

“We are very aggressively tackling issues related to this project,” he said. “The momentum is definitely back up.”

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