Pitt Announces 12-Year, $1 Billion Facilities Plan

Issue Date: 
May 14, 2007

The University of Pittsburgh will commit more than $1 billion in modernization, construction, renovation, and infrastructure upgrades to meet the University’s teaching, research, and programmatic needs through the year 2018, under a 12-year Pitt facilities plan released today.

The plan follows up on Pitt’s last long-range facilities plan, which covered the years 1998 through 2006. The new plan provides a “roadmap” for ensuring that Pitt facilities can meet programmatic objectives over the next 12 years and as such, has built-in contingencies to review and, if necessary, adjust the plan’s direction. The plan, which is divided into four-year phases, will be reviewed prior to the beginning of each phase to allow for programmatic changes or to take advantage of previously unforeseen opportunities.

The text of the plan is posted at www.pitt.edu/news/070514.html.

“It is important for all to realize that this plan, along with its predecessor, is a key element in ensuring that Pitt’s academic programs will be competitive with the very best in the coming years,” said Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor James V. Maher, who, with Executive Vice Chancellor Jerome Cochran, cochaired the Facilities Planning Committee that developed the plan.

Robert Pack, vice provost for academic planning and resources management, cautioned that the monetary figures in the report should not be viewed as final, but rather as baseline figures to keep facilities up-to-date. Inflation, changes in building codes, and technological advances may alter the plan’s final costs, he said.

“The actual cost will depend on the development of comprehensive programs for each building as well as changing conditions and needs at the time each project is undertaken,” Pack said. “And because modernization, renewals, and upgrades cost roughly half of what new construction does, the vast majority of the planned expenditures will go to upgrading existing facilities rather than new construction.”

As the timetable for modernizing individual buildings approaches, Pitt’s Department of Facilities Management will work with each building’s occupants to develop a detailed needs assessment before final costs are calculated. Also to be determined at that time will be construction timetables that will minimize inconvenience to classes, research, and programs.

“A good example of keeping plans flexible is the Biomedical Science Tower,” said Pack. “The BST was not in the University’s previous long-range facilities plan, but as the nation began to place a greater emphasis on biotechnology, the University was able to capitalize on the fact that one of its strengths was being identified as a national priority for research funding.”

The Facilities Planning Committee that developed the plan was composed of representatives of Pitt’s administration and faculty. Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg charged the committee to build on the accomplishments of the University’s previous facilities plan; assess the condition, adequacy, and appropriateness of the University’s facilities; develop priorities for renovation and new construction that are aligned with academic goals and institutional resources; prepare a comprehensive plan that ensures the University’s continuing competitiveness in instruction, research, and student life; and propose a realistic funding plan that recognizes continuing fiscal constraints.

The committee, in reviewing the success of the previous plan, adopted a set of principles and priorities to guide its process. These principles and priorities include the following:

• Modernize current facilities as a cost-effective way to meet future academic program needs rather than build more expensive new facilities. (For example, Clapp/Langley/Crawford and Parran/Crabtree halls would cost approximately $486 per gross-square-foot to construct but instead are expected to cost $211 and $132, respectively, to renovate.);

• Invest in routine maintenance of existing facilities to ensure that they meet the needs of the programs they house;

• Develop significant additional research laboratory facilities to support projected growth and to ensure the University’s continuing competitiveness for external funding;

• Invest regularly in improving and modernizing instructional facilities to provide an effective teaching environment;

• Increase the efficiency of space utilization, particularly for classrooms and offices;

• Develop the campus’ utility and information-technology infrastructure to support future program needs;

• Provide appropriate student life space to assist in meeting enrollment and program goals; and

• Improve athletic facilities to ensure the competitiveness of Pitt’s programs.

The committee began its work by inventorying space and assessing the current conditions of all facilities. It worked with an outside architectural firm to assess the condition of each building’s utility infrastructure in terms of its ability to meet the University’s needs in the coming decade.

The committee also surveyed academic units to determine each unit’s research, teaching, and technological needs for the coming decade and the adequacy of current facilities to meet those needs. In addition, the committee examined the University’s athletics and recreational needs, as well as the needs for administration, student housing, and dining facilities.

Among the committee’s findings and recommendations were the following

• A number of older buildings on the Pittsburgh campus require significant renovations to support current as well as future programs;

• The major science buildings on the Pittsburgh campus must be substantially modernized to support existing and future programs;

• Existing research laboratory space needs to be modernized and expanded to support anticipated program growth;

• All University buildings require regular investment for routine maintenance to ensure the continuing effectiveness of the programs they house;

• Campus utility and information-technology infrastructure must be significantly expanded and upgraded to meet future needs;

• Student-life facilities—residence halls and dining and recreational facilities—require investment to support the achievement of academic and enrollment goals;

• Intercollegiate athletics facilities on the Pittsburgh campus are inadequate for several sports, particularly for soccer, track, baseball, and softball, and must be developed, preferably at on-campus locations;

• Classroom improvement represents a continuing expense to keep pace with changing technology and instructional approaches; and

• The lack of a conference facility inhibits the Pittsburgh campus’ ability to host appropriate academic meetings. The committee suggested the newly acquired University Club as a possible solution to this problem. A separate committee is reviewing possible uses for the University Club.

Most of the construction projects will be paid for by the University’s Educational and General budget (including loans), as well as from gifts and grants. The committee worked closely with Pitt’s Department of Finance to ensure that the University’s current good credit rating would be maintained throughout the course of the plan.