Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

President of Washington State University dies: fostered development of the "University District" adjacent to Downtown Spokane

I haven't gotten around to writing about the creation of Union Square in Greensboro, North Carolina ("Union Square Campus groundbreaking kicks off," Triangle Business Journal), which is spurring revitalization and development through the leveraging and co-locating of area college and university programs, specifically nursing.

One of the models for Greensboro is the University District in Spokane ("Campus evolution: WSU kicks Spokane development into high gear," Spokane Spokesman-Review), where five universities--three, University of Washington, Washington State University, and Eastern Washington University with branch campuses, while Gonzaga and Whitworth are based in Spokane, and the local community college system are collaborating on the redevelopment of the old waterfront district, a 50-acre parcel adjacent to Downtown.

Elson Floyd was president of Washington State University for eight years. (Alan Berner/The Seattle Times)

While the creation of the U District in Spokane has been underway for more than a decade, approval from the Washington State Legislature for WSU to create a medical campus in Spokane just a few months ago was a crowning achievement of WSU President Elson Floyd, who died earlier today while undergoing treatment for cancer, according to the Seattle Times ("Elson Floyd, WSU president, dies at 59").

Jensen-Byrd Building photo from the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.

The medical school will anchor a massive building program about to be undertaken mostly by WSU for the Spokane branch (list from the SR article) totaling more than $300 million of construction in the University District:
  • U-District Health Clinic: Two-story, 42,600-square-foot family practice clinic staffed by resident physicians; operated in partnership with Empire Health Foundation and Providence Health Care. Also will provide training for nursing, pharmacy and other health sciences students. Estimated cost: $15.6 million (not state-funded).
  • Jensen-Byrd renovation: Convert six-story, century-old warehouse into multiuse facility with gathering areas and student amenities. WSU is seeking a private-sector partner. Estimated cost: $55.5 million to $61.3 million (not state-funded).
  • Multilevel parking garage: Ground-floor office space for campus support services to be sited near Jensen-Byrd; 600 parking stalls. Estimated cost: $30.5 million to $33.7 million (not state-funded).
  • Research facility: 150,000- to 160,000-square-foot research building, four to five stories, east of existing Pharmacy and Biomedical Science Building and connected at basement level. Estimated cost: $99.9 million to $110.4 million (will seek state funding).
  • Education/clinical research facility: 140,000-square-foot facility along Spokane Falls Boulevard; classrooms, auditoriums, research labs; shared with EWU. Estimated cost: $84.6 million to $93.5 million (WSU and EWU to jointly seek state funds).
In researching about Greensboro about their project and looking more closely at their higher education efforts--one is the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering where the Dean reports to both the North Carolina A&T State University and The University of North Carolina Greensboro, I was struck by the fact that DC has many many universities, but they don't work together very much.

The kind of motivations in Greensboro--shrinking state appropriations are "encouraging" the colleges and universities there to work together in order to be able to do new and innovative programming--don't appear to be present to the same degree, even though some of the universities are experiencing financial difficulties.

-- "Howard University to cut about 200 staff positions" [2014], Washington Post
-- "Howard University cuts 84 staff positions" [2015], Post
-- "Catholic University turns to buyouts and layoffs to cut spending" [2015], Post

Note that in the past I suggested that DC not create a separate community college, but join with Montgomery College or another area community college system to not have to unnecessary duplicate and spend money on administration, and to start from a stronger position, rather than mostly from scratch ("Creating a community in the District of Columbia").

And about UDC and how the city could consider modeling the provision of higher education as a series of joint ventures between local universities, comparable to how the SUNY system in New York contracts with Cornell, Syracuse, and Alfred Universities to deliver some state college programs, at otherwise private schools.("Whither UDC?").

It's also somewhat damning that none of the city's universities has a great urban studies program.

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