FIU builds more on packed campus
Written by Nicolas Rivero on September 8, 2015
As Florida International University looks to expand, construction is underway on a campus that is already “bursting out at the seams,” according to John Cal, associate vice president of facilities management.
The Modesto Maidique Campus, FIU’s first, will be home to a new Student Academic Support Center in March, Mr. Cal said. The center is to host the front office for all enrollment services, including the registrar, financial aid office and advisement offices. It will also host offices for the honors program, the career center and the study abroad program, according to a release from the university.
Mr. Cal said those offices are now scattered across campus, but the goal is to create one facility where students can go to take care of administrative errands from when they are high school students applying to FIU until they graduate.
“Rather than trying to hopscotch around a rather large campus, we want to have everything in one place,” Mr. Cal said.
But even though the Modesto Maidique Campus covers 344 acres, Mr. Cal said FIU, with over 50,000 students, has the smallest ratio of land to students in the state’s university system. And, he said, its master plan calls for an eventual expansion to 65,000 students.
In November, Miami-Dade County voters approved a measure that could permit FIU to expand into the 86-acre grounds of the Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition just south of the Modesto Maidique Campus. Mr. Cal said the university still has not decided what would be built there but said it would facilitate FIU’s growth and the economic development of South Florida.
An expansion is still not a certainty as the county seeks a suitable new home for what is commonly called the Youth Fair. Such an expansion would have an initial economic impact of $1.8 billion in South Florida and an annual recurring impact of $541 million, according to a university press release.
Meanwhile, FIU continues to build up the Modesto Maidique Campus. To make the most of limited space, its two latest parking garages have included mixed-use ground floors. Parking Garage 6 was built in the spring at a cost of more than $49 million. In addition to 2,000 parking spaces, it will also host office and retail space, four classrooms, a computer lab and an indoor seating area.
The classrooms are to be complete in the fall, and a university release said a diverse roster of retail tenants would include Reebok Cross Fit, CSI Pediatric Care Providers and Half Moon Empanadas.
Mr. Cal said mixed-use garages “just make a lot more sense.”
“As we’ve progressed and we’ve grown, we’ve become much more like a typical urban campus,” he explained.
He said this type of construction is what you’d expect to find on an urban campus. He added that greater flexibility from the state on how universities can fund parking garages has made it much easier for FIU to build its last two garages as mixed-use buildings.
To alleviate on-campus traffic jams that are common during major events like graduation and convocation, Mr. Cal said, the university will create a new entrance to the Modesto Maidique Campus on Southwest 117th Avenue at Southwest 12th Street by June 2016.
The university also plans to greatly expand the campus’s recreation center by December 2016 to include new indoor and outdoor basketball courts, sand volleyball courts, a weight training room, additional locker rooms and a mezzanine-level jogging track.
In June, the university built a 36,000-square-foot ambulatory care center that hosts an FIU Health center on the first floor. This facility is to provide primary care, women’s health services, family medicine, internal medicine and other medical services to the public. The second floor is to be the home of the Miami Children’s Hospital Ambulatory Surgical Center, the first dedicated pediatric ambulatory surgical center in South Florida.