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Rothwell gets Regents' nod

MADISON -- The University of Wisconsin Regents gave the UW-Superior's $22 million Rothwell Student Center project an important endorsement Friday, moving it toward final construction approval.

MADISON -- The University of Wisconsin Regents gave the UW-Superior's $22 million Rothwell Student Center project an important endorsement Friday, moving it toward final construction approval.

Along with renovations to the Jim Dan Hill Library and building a new academic facility, Chancellor Julius Erlenbach expects plenty of construction activity on campus next year.

"All three facilities with any luck along the way, will be up and running by 2009. That's a lot of construction activity on campus over the next few years on a best-case scenario," Erlenbach said.

Remodeling of the library was expected to have begun by now but the approximately $7 million project was set back by three or four months recently when designs for certain load-bearing walls were determined not to be substantial enough to support the weight of the library's books.

A new architectural design will be developed then reviewed by the users groups and approval there will move the project forward again, Erlenbach said.

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There was better news Friday for the Rothwell Student Center as the Regents approved its design and construction without debate. Adding a chiller plant that will also serve the library and new academic building increased the building's cost by $1.18 million and left Erlenbach unsure if the project needs to go before State Building Commission again. Efforts to determine if the Rothwell Student Center will be on this month's commission agenda were unsuccessful Friday.

The new student center won't necessarily be named Rothwell, said Erlenbach, giving the university another opportunity to add to the $4 million goal in private contributions for the project.

The new building will retain the Rothwell name as a ballroom or walkway but the university is legally obligated to only keep the Rothwell name affiliated in some way with the new facility, he said.

The new center will be smaller at 83,1000 square feet than the 113,933-square-foot Rothwell Center, which due to additions in 1963 and 1967 has never been well laid out facility, Erlenbach said. The new building will not only be more space efficient if will energy efficient, too.

"It will be a green building in that it will have passive solar heating, a grass roof for better insulation and rain gardens to absorb runoff and recycle the water for other uses," he said.

The new center will be built adjacent to Rothwell, which will be demolished and used for parking and an entrance plaza for the new center.

Dining areas, meeting rooms, offices for student organizations, recreation, lounges and an art gallery will fill the new center.

The $32 million new academic building made it through the Joint Finance Committee this month but needs final approval by both the Assembly and Senate this summer before work can begin, Erlenbach said.

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"This is a pretty critical time in the budget process," he said.

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