Ball State Begins Process of Tearing Down LaFollette

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(Image courtesy of Ball State's Master Plan) (Image courtesy of Ball State's Master Plan)

Demolition work is underway on a long-discussed project to replace Ball State University's largest residence hall. The LaFollette Complex, which opened in 1967, houses around 1,900 students. The 530,000 square-foot facility will come down in stages, and, over the next few years, two new facilities will go up in its place. The demolition and construction costs are slated to total $78 million.

Associate Vice President for Facilities Planning and Management Jim Lowe tells Inside INdiana Business the decision is decades in the making. "Fortunately, we've had great people at the university that thought ahead 40 and 50 years and financially placed us in a position where we have the ability to do this. We understand what it takes to build these facilities," Lowe said.

He says LaFollette was built at a time when the school needed lots of room for students quickly. This type of "mega" structure, Lowe says, doesn't fit with what's being built these says. "Today, you wouldn't build a residence hall with 1,900 beds in one unit. You would build it smaller in scale, so it gives more of a softer feeling to the students that are staying there," he said. Lowe says on-campus housing is typically designed now for 500-600 students.

Rough guidelines for replacing LaFollette were spelled out in Ball State's 2015 campus master plan, which is set to take the university through the next 15-25 years. Plans call for a revamp of the northern residential corridor of the Muncie campus and in addition to the new residence hall and dining facilities, they include green space and additional academic building designed to "improve this important campus gateway" and "create a sense of arrival" along McKinley Avenue.

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