University to fork out $650m for upgrades

uni to remain a construction site for the next 15 years

The University of Otago is set to spend $650 million on campus upgrades over the next 15 years. The new Priority Development Plan (PDP), recently approved by the University Council, includes over 20 upgrades. These include major changes to seven faculties, a number of health and safety refurbishments and several landscaping projects.

The upgrades will include:
  • A new Dental School to replace the aging facilities;

  • Replacing the Burns building;

  • A major renovation of the Science Precinct;

  • Huge upgrades to Health Sciences research facilities;

  • A new Music facility, including a Centre of Performing Arts;

  • A new Marine Science teaching facility and aquarium;

  • A new Biomedical Research building; and

  • A new student services hub in the area where Union Lawn currently is.

  • Landscaping projects will affect Castle Street between Dundas Street and St David Street, Union Street between the Staff Club and Unicol, and Castle Walk on the west side of the Leith opposite the Clocktower, the latter of which is already well underway.

    In a statement released on 4 July, Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne stated that the aim of the PDP is “to show the University community, the public, and contractors, what we will be looking at, and focussing on, over the medium term when it comes to our built environments.” According to Hayne, the renovations will improve our already first-class university. “We want the campus to be enjoyed by the communities in which we live,” she said.

    Chief Operating Officer John Patrick presented the PDP at a staff forum on 4 July. He estimated the total cost of the plan to be $649.9 million, a figure that includes projects that have already been approved or are under construction. These include the University’s contribution to the major landscaping work, which is opposite the Clocktower, as part of the Leith Flood Protection Scheme. He added that the plan has been prepared with the intention that it can be funded without resorting to borrowing large amounts of money. “Currently the University does not use debt to fund capital projects, but looking ahead, may want to do this,” Mr Patrick says. “Funding decisions will be made as we progress planning for these projects.”
This article first appeared in Issue 15, 2014.
Posted 6:52pm Sunday 13th July 2014 by Nina Harrap.