Landscape changes at BYU

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Some of Shannon Dixon’s fondest freshman memories revolve around her time at Lucy Mack Smith Hall in Heritage Halls. But this year, when the 1995 BYU graduate arrives on campus for Women’s Conference, all that will be found is a large site where the demolished building once was.

“It was just one of those fun places,” she said. “It made me sad that one of those places that you have all of those memories is gone.”

Over the last year, construction and demolition has been at a near constant in order to complete the eight new Heritage Halls that will ultimately accommodate 1,600 students.

The new Heritage buildings that provide on-campus housing

Julie Franklin, director of residence life at BYU, said the increase in student housing will be significant compared to what it was before.

“The original buildings that were demolished to make way for part of this construction project, and the utility tunnel that was completed last summer, accommodated approximately 600 students,” she said.

Although the new buildings increase the amount of student accommodations, the housing still falls about 200 people short of Deseret Tower’s capacity before it was demolished. For the time being, Wyview Park, once married student housing, will continue to serve single students.

Four of the new buildings have already been completed and three of the remaining four will be completed in time for the Fall 2013 class of incoming freshman. The final hall is expected to be finished before the Winter 2014 semester.

In the past, Women’s Conference participants have had the option of staying in Heritage Halls during their visit to campus, and this remains true.

“Our classic style Heritage Halls buildings will be available for Women’s Conference participants,” Franklin said. “Spring term student residents are being accommodated in the buildings that were recently completed.”

For those not staying in on-campus housing, accessibility to the popular Creamery on Ninth, also known as the CONE, may be more of a concern.

Dean Wright, director of Dining Services, said in an email the construction has not stopped customers from coming — it has only changed some foot routes to get there.

“We do not anticipate a change during Women’s Conference,” he said. “Our products, especially our ice cream, continue to be a draw to visitors on campus.”

Drastic changes are taking place on the south side of campus with the construction of a new Life Sciences Building, as well as the absence of the “Tree of Wisdom” statue.

Dr. James Porter, associate dean of the College of Life Sciences said that the new Life Sciences Building will better meet infrastructural and educational needs of students and researchers, as well as being more eco-friendly.

Construction crews work to build the new Life Sciences Building

Porter said one of the greatest concerns for the Life Sciences College has been the ability for students and researchers to interact in laboratories.

“The new building has a much more open and modular laboratory space. We have a lot more group user areas,” he said. “The furniture and even the walls are made on the inside so that they can be moved fairly easily if we need to.”

This new design will specifically cater to growing collaborative needs of the college’s research. The building is set to be complete in May 2014.

No less iconic to the university is the “Tree of Wisdom” statue removed in October 2011 from its location outside of the Spencer W. Kimball Tower.

Todd Hollingshead, the media manager for BYU, explained the university’s decision to remove the statue.

“Through years of wear and tear the sculpture had just become structurally unsound,” Hollingshead said.

According to Hollingshead, the university will replace the statue with another Tree of Wisdom, to be completed before fall semester.

The Tree of Wisdom statue surrounded by a barricade prior to removal
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