$40 million project to connect buildings, add 107,000 square feet of space

By Bryan Richardson

There are several renovation and construction projects on the horizon for K-State, but perhaps no project carries more impact than the College of Engineering expansion.

The estimated $40 million expansion, which is slated to open in the fall of 2015, will add 107,000 square feet to the current engineering complex, and will include classrooms, teaching and research laboratories, an auditorium, faculty and administrative offices, and student gathering areas.

Engineering officials hope the expansion helps accomplish two initiatives: K-State 2025 and the University Engineering Initiative Act.

K-State 2025 is the university’s goal to become a top 50 public research institution by 2025.

The University Engineering Initiative Act is the state’s goal to increase the number of engineering graduates in Kansas by more than 50 percent during a 10-year period.

The goal for K-State engineering is to grow from 423 graduates to 586 graduates in the 2022-23 academic year. The college also plans to increase undergraduate enrollment from 3,056 to 3,750 and faculty from 125 to 155.

Gary Clark, interim engineering dean and professor, said the expansion should be a recruitment tool for students and faculty.

“There’s an investment being made in higher education here,” he said. “We’re strengthening that national prominence.”

The following list details the highlights, according to Clark:

• The expansion will fill in the space between the existing buildings (Fielder, Rathbone and Durland halls). “That’s the exciting part,” Clark said. “It ties the existing buildings into one complex. I love that.”


• A student design team center. Clark said teams currently meet all around in places such as the K-State Foundation garage, Ward Hall and basement labs in the various engineering buildings. “It brings not all, but many, of these teams together,” he said. “Even though they are on different teams, they can collaborate and work with each other.”


• The complex will have a more prominent main entrance for students entering Rathbone Hall from the plaza. From there, people will see the Carl and Mary Ice Reception Center. (They gave the first gift for the project: $1 million.) The hall will also get a 250-seat auditorium.


• A new location for the student learning center, which will double in size.

• The Department of Computing and Information Services will move from Nichols Hall into the engineering complex. The move will place the department near the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “They do a lot of things that are similar,” Clark said. “It’s going to strengthen student and faculty collaboration among those units.”


A ceremonial groundbreaking is taking place at 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 25 in the atrium between Rathbone and Fiedler halls. Clark said the project doesn’t actually get its start until January.

Before the official start date, some aspects of the project still must evolve. Clark said the current design has too much glass for the addition.

“We want it to architecturally blend in with the buildings a little bit more,” he said. “A little bit more limestone and less glass.”

Clark said the project will receive half of the funding from engineering initiative funds and the other half from private donations.

The engineering initiative act allows for the issuance of bonds to accelerate the process.

The Ices will have the reception center named after them, but other naming opportunities are still being determined as the engineering college moves forward with development of its financial campaign.

“We haven’t really started the funding campaign,” Clark said. “That’s still a few weeks out.”

The contracted architects are Perkins+Will.

“Same ones are doing NBAF up here, so that’s pretty neat,” Clark said.

Perkins+Will are teaming with with Nevius Serig Palmer Architecture and Affiliated Engineers Inc.

The construction manager is McCownGordon Construction.

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