Purchase photos

Regents approve plan for new FHSU building





With the latest new addition to campus yet to break ground, Fort Hays State University saw plans for another new building get off the ground this week.

At this week's meeting in Topeka, the Kansas Board of Regents approved FHSU's program statement for a new art and education building.

The regents voted unanimously, 9-0, for Fort Hays to move forward on a $21 million project that will house the department of art and design and the department of education, which both now operate out of Rarick Hall.

The new academic building, tentatively scheduled for completion in the summer of 2017, will be built on a piece of land just west of the university president's house commonly referred to as the band practice field.

"This will be a fantastic addition to our campus," FHSU President Edward Hammond said. "Besides giving us more space for two of our fastest-growing units, it will give us a chance to renovate Rarick."

Hammond won't be able to watch the construction out the back window of his home but does plan to keep an eye on it from a distance. He will retire from the presidency this summer but will stay on as a consultant at FHSU for at least a year. He plans to remain living in Hays.

"A lot of things have changed in 30 years in the classroom," Hammond said in reference to Rarick's completion in the early 1980s. "This will give us a chance to do renovation a floor at a time in Rarick. It's the first necessary step to get (Rarick) up to speed."

Hammond said with the education and art and design departments moving out of Rarick, it will free up approximately a floor and a half of the three-story building for more office space.

With approval from the regents, FHSU now will begin the selection process for an architect for the new academic building.

Dana Cunningham, director of facilities planning at Fort Hays, said the university would start the process set by the state for selecting an architect "within the next 60 days and hope to have someone on board by late summer."

The building would take a year in planning, then approximately a month for the bidding process.

Already well underway is the construction process of a new 504-bed residential complex -- called the Wiest Hall replacement project in reference to the six-story dormitory-style hall on campus that will be torn down -- and it is set for completion by the fall of 2016.

That two-building Wiest replacement project will include another pedestrian bridge similar to the one that now crosses Big Creek, from near Wooster Place apartments on the east side of campus to the Cunningham Hall/Gross Memorial Coliseum complex on the west side.

That same new bridge will be easily accessible from the new academic building on the west side of Big Creek.

"It will really change the campus," Hammond said.