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North Campus Construction Will Increase Parking, Expand Green Space

October 16, 2006

Students, faculty and staff will enjoy improved recreational and intercollegiate athletic fields, increased parking and an extension of a landscaped pedestrian walkway as the result of construction planned for the north campus area of Northwestern's Evanston campus in the next few years.

Construction is slated to get under way in the spring of 2007 on a project that will include relocating the existing soccer/lacrosse field to the area east of the field hockey field and building a 410-space parking lot where the current soccer/lacrosse field is located and expanding the existing lot near Cook Hall by 75 spaces. The new field will have FieldTurf artificial turf and will be lighted, which will enable the field to be used for club sports, intramurals and recreational use, as well as varsity sports. FieldTurf is a synthetic grass with a rubber and sand base that results in a playing field that drains quickly and can be used more heavily than natural grass.

“Having a FieldTurf field will definitely enhance our ability to provide good recreational fields for use by our growing club sports and for intramurals,” said Mark Murphy, director of intercollegiate athletics and recreation. “In addition, having the field lighted will provide us longer hours of use and more scheduling flexibility for all of our activities.

“We'll be able to start our mid-week home games later, which means our team members won't have to miss class for those games, and it will allow more students to attend the games,” Murphy added.

Because the current soccer/lacrosse field is natural grass, its use is restricted to intercollegiate athletic teams in order to keep the field in good shape.

The area where the current soccer/lacrosse field is located will be converted to parking, extending the existing parking lot located east of Cook Hall and adding 485 net new parking spaces. The Cook lot is one of the busiest on campus and is generally filled at peak times, said Ron Nayler, associate vice president for facilities management. The new lot, coupled with the 195-space lot east of the Henry Crown Sports and Aquatics Center that was completed earlier this year, should significantly improve parking availability in the north campus area, Nayler said.

Relocating the field will begin as soon as possible in the spring, with completion anticipated by fall 2007, Nayler said.

The University considered other alternatives to improve parking on the north campus area, including a large above-ground parking garage west of the Crown Sports Center and underground parking south of the planned new Proteomics and Nanobiotechnology Building. But both options were significantly more expensive and the underground parking would have continued the current problem of pedestrian-vehicular conflicts in the area near Annenberg Hall and the Allen Center, Nayler said.

“One of the key principles recommended by the University Space Planning Committee a few years ago was to make the central campus area more pedestrian-oriented,” Nayler said. “By placing the parking north of the Allen Center and east of Cook Hall, we can create a large green space west of the Allen Center and extend the pedestrian walkway in the area near the new building and Annenberg.”

Construction on the $95 million Proteomics building is slated to begin in early 2007. The 140,000-square-foot building will provide lab space for 16 principal investigators and their research groups working in the areas of chemistry, biology and engineering. The building is expected to take approximately two-and-a-half years to complete.

As part of that project, the area south of the new building that is now a parking lot will become an approximately one-acre open green space. In addition, the landscaped pedestrian walkway that now exists between the Center for Nanofabrication and Molecular Self-Assembly and Pancoe-Evanston Northwestern Healthcare Pavilion will be extended to what is now the south end of the parking lot. A roadway will continue to provide access to the Allen Center and to the Proteomics Building, but traffic between the Allen Center and Pancoe will be limited to official vehicles, similar to the stretch of roadway that now exists between the University Library and Norris University Center.

“Accommodating the need for parking while maintaining green space on campus is a complicated process,” Nayler said. “This option allows us to improve our recreational and athletic fields, increase parking and make it safer for pedestrians in the north campus area.”

During construction of the Proteomics Building, temporary parking for contractors will be established on the lakefront, similar to what was done during the construction of the Pancoe-ENH Pavilion.

Topics: University News