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Front Page » Education » University of Miami’s eco-friendly campus remake

University of Miami’s eco-friendly campus remake

Written by on October 29, 2014
University of Miami’s eco-friendly campus remake

The University of Miami is in the process of remaking its campus to be more eco-friendly as well as more responsive to the needs of students, faculty and the community at large.

Last week’s groundbreaking of The Lennar Foundation Medical Center is a major component of that plan. The Lennar Corp. supported the project with a $50 million gift, the university announced.

Previously known as the UHealth Coral Gables ambulatory center, the 200,000-square-foot facility on the main campus “will provide easy access to UHealth’s leading physicians for surrounding communities as well as UM students, faculty, and staff,” the university said in a release. It is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2016.

It will include outposts of the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, and will provide urgent care, outpatient surgery, sports medicine, physical therapy, diagnostic imaging, radiation oncology and other subspecialties.

“The center will be a hallmark facility in this area of the county, bringing together UM’s finest healthcare programs under one roof,” said Janet Gavarrete, the university’s associate vice president for campus planning and development. “In addition to students, it will also serve our staff and their families and friends, and anyone else out there. There is nothing like it in this area.”

A significant project last year was the completion of an activities center that brings all student organizations together in one building and provides meeting space and other amenities, she said.

“It’s now been a full year that it’s been occupied by students and owned by students. It’s been the most successful project in improving and enhancing the student experience, and it’s amazing to see that, by bringing everybody together, we are providing them the teaching that builds leadership,” she said.

The Patricia Louise Frost Music Studios, part of the Patricia and Phillip Frost School of Music, is slated to open by spring 2015 and represents the epitome of energy-efficient construction, Ms. Gavarrete said. While all of UM’s new construction is eco-friendly, “We’re aiming for this one to be platinum level, which the highest level of eco-conscious construction. It’s an interesting building in which to teach and learn music; it’s very advanced.”

The building recycles rainwater to flush toilets and features window coverings that automatically adjust tinting to save energy. It is also acoustically treated “so that sound transition is zero from one space to another,” she explained. An eco-friendly exterior completes the picture.

“It’s notable, because we’ve been silver but this is a leap,” Ms. Gavarrete said. “For Coral Gables, we probably are the first platinum building.”

The placement of a new 860-space garage also reflects the school’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint.

“It’s very close to the campus core, so people will drive to the parking garage and then just walk, reducing the need for trolley services,” she said. “We’ve looked at different modes of transportation that should help with increased mobility, which include public transit, Zip cars and bike trails.”

The school’s athletic practice fields were upgraded this summer with a new drain system to withstand South Florida’s heavy rains.

“The system renders fields playable 15 minutes after it rains,” she added. Another field got a new Field Turf surface for more durability.

Construction drawings are in process for a 32,000-square-foot addition to the nursing school that will include simulated operating rooms. “Students will be learning skills in a space that resembles where they’ll be working,” she said. That building should be finished in two to three years.

UM’s dining facilities just got a facelift, with new menus, new lighting and more places to sit. “Students are opting to stay on campus to dine for longer periods of time, and this has really improved the quality component,” Ms. Gavarrete said.

“Our next challenge is to enhance our housing,” she continued. “We’ve made great strides in understanding the future of campus housing and fine-tuning plans. We also look forward to having new science building” sometime in the future. “It’s very important to the Arts and Sciences program.”