Facelift on horizon for Northern campus

jackie.stark and jackie.stark

Alumni who return to Northern’s campus sometime during in the next 10 years may find that they don’t even recognize their alma mater.

A new proposed campus master plan, slated to take shape over the next 10 to 15 years, depicts many physical changes throughout NMU’s campus, including converting West Hall into a parking deck and building a new Student Union next to Hedgcock, said Jim Thams, manager of engineering and planning.

However, Thams stressed that this plan was only a draft, and that no actual changes have been decided on.

NMU’s current master plan has been in use for the past 15 to 20 years, said Cindy Paavola, director of communications and marketing.

“We’re due for a change,” she added.

The previous master plan called for several changes to NMU’s campus, including the conversion of Magers Hall into a residence hall.

SmithGroup JJR, a plan and design firm located in Ann Arbor, won the national bid for the production of the new campus master plan.

The firm presented its ideas for a new Northern campus for the third time to NMU’s Board of Trustees last Friday, Sept. 28.

Originally, SmithGroup JJR proposed three different ideas, according to Paavola.

In one plan, NMU’s campus border would be defined by natural elements such as trees, shrubbery and flowers. Another plan would involve constructing a dual campus, which would have residential housing on both ends of campus, each only a five-minute walk from any academic buildings. The third plan looked to centralize Northern’s campus.

Ultimately, the university decided on a combination of these three plans, Paavola said.

“We wanted to take the best of the best from each plan,” she added.

Forums discussing the proposed plan will be held in Jamrich 102 on Wednesday, Oct. 10 from 3-5 p.m. and Thursday Oct. 11, from 9-11 a.m. Students are welcome encouraged to attend, Paavola said.