New facilities plan aims to improve the Quinnipiac student experience

Quinnipiac University’s facilities team has plans to build a new Recreation and Wellness Center, a new academic building and residence hall, and creating more open spaces on campus

Emily Flamme, News Editor

Quinnipiac University announced its 10-year “master facilities plan,” which aims to bring changes to residence halls and academic buildings, create open spaces for students and connect the three campuses. 

President Judy Olian said the goal of the plan is to unite the Quinnipiac community by strengthening connections throughout the campuses.

“In addition to academic programs, what needs to happen is the building and creation of community through physical spaces, like pathways and connections, internal to the campus and with the community,” Olian said.

The facilities plan is guided by Olian’s “strategic plan” to create a “university of the future.” In doing so, she said Quinnipiac’s facilities team was able to come up with a plan to guide the building and renovations for the next decade.

“If you don’t think about the future, you’re falling behind,” Olian said. 

First on the list of facilities that will be updated is the Recreation and Wellness Center. Sal Filardi, vice president for facilities and capital planning, said it will be an expansion of the current recreation center and will include recreation space, a health facility, counseling and room for programs that focus on health and wellness such as cooking demonstrations.

Rendering of interior activity and exercise spaces planned for the new Recreation and Wellness Center. (Courtesy of Quinnipiac University Facilites)

The university expects to finalize the plan for the Recreation and Wellness Center in the coming month. The project will begin at the end of spring, with a completion date set for the fall 2022 semester. 

Another project that is expected to be completed soon is the renovation of the Complex residence halls, which includes Founders, Sahlin and Bakke, on the Mount Carmel campus. It will be renovated this summer and will be available for residents in fall 2021. 

The current set-up has three doubles in a suite, but the new plans will have two singles and one double in a suite. It will also be available for juniors and seniors to live in. 

“It not only gives people the right space in the right room, but also helps with the overall diversity of the type of housing that we have,” Filardi said. “You don’t have a lot of singles on campus.”

Currently, the university is scoping to build a new academic building and residence hall and reconstruct the School of Business.

The scoping process has been taking place for the past year by Filardi who collaborated with Ayers Saint Gross, a Baltimore-based architectural firm. 

“(We have to) identify what programs go into the building, how many classrooms, how many labs, how many offices, what kind of common space, the adjacency of those buildings,” Filardi said. 

The master plan’s end goal is to renovate and improve nearly every building on campus. For the academic buildings, Olian said there is a need for more space where it is focused on the whole community, not just one program or school. 

“There are a couple buildings that we’re hoping long term actually come down,” Filardi said. “So there’s less renovation of existing spaces in the academic side.”

Connor Lawless

Filardi said the plan is flexible and will allow for small renovations to help certain areas get through until either a tear-down or a reconstruction, otherwise called “the bridge project.” 

“We do very small renovations, one or two rooms or a classroom or lab annually to either upgrade or to react right now to the pandemic,” Filardi said. “‘Let’s make this minor renovation in order to give them some facilities to get to that new building.’ So there’s a little bit of that built into the plan also.” 

In terms of funding, Olian said the money for this plan comes from three places: the budget, an endowment and donors. 

Olian said that the university tries to have a minimum of $10 million invested in its Capital Fund every year. 

“To the extent that our operating budget can support some building projects, we transfer a bit of that into what we call the Capital Fund,” Olian said. “A second source of funding is we have an endowment, where we have invested funds.”

The university is allowed to use 4-5% of its endowment, which are donations that have specific legal structures attached to it. 

Donations from an individual or foundation who agree to invest their funds into a specific capital project makes up the rest of the funding. 

“So what we’re looking at is seeing our way to find what is several $100 million of investment in both the capital plan and the strategic plan,” Olian said. “And we think with solid philanthropy and solid enrollments and solid fiscal management, we can see our way to this 10-year plan of really transforming the campus physically, but also academically, in terms of residential life, campus and so forth.”

The COVID-19 pandemic hit in the middle of the scoping and planning for this long-term capital planning, but Olian and Filardi said it has only set the timeline back one semester. 

“I just think the reality is the flexibility of our plan is what will make it successful, right?” Filardi said. “If there’s an unexpected event that causes another negative financial impact, like the pandemic, then we’re flexible enough to adjust our build out of the master plan that we could probably easily absorb that.”

Long-term goals include creating a “North Quad” and “South Quad” on Mount Carmel campus to have more space for outdoor gathering. There are also plans to revamp Bobcat Way into making a more cohesive road that makes it easier to get around campus by moving the entrance further south. 

The university also wants to add sidewalks along Mount Carmel Avenue and New Road to help improve pedestrian safety. 

The first-year residential students incoming in fall 2021 have to live on campus for three years, the university intends to increase bed capacity on Mount Carmel and York Hill.

Over time, Quinnipiac wants to decrease the number of quad rooms that first-year students live in. The university also wants to create a “Bobcat Hub” to serve as a place for dining and gathering. 

The university plans to improve classroom amenities such as labs, research spaces as well as more space on the North Haven campus for students to gather. 

“We did a self study, we did our strategic plan, we did our master planning, and what we found is what we want to provide for our students,” Filardi said. “So we are going to add to the square footage of campus. But we’re not adding square footage in order to bring more students. We’re adding square footage in order to provide more quality experience for the number of students that we already have.”

The plan is expected to take a total of 10 years to complete, which Filardi said can be frustrating for current students. 

“It’s really exciting times, there’s some really big projects coming forward that we’re excited about,” Filardi said. “The one drawback and I think it’s going to be the frustration for a lot of folks is you can’t do a 10-year plan in one (year.)”