$38.5 million approved to renovate Lafferre Hall
On Oct. 16, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon convened a meeting of the state’s Board of Public Buildings in Thomas and Nell Lafferre Hall on the University of Missouri campus to approve the state’s issuance of $38.5 million for the long awaited and much hoped for repair and renovation of the 1935 and 1944 sections of Lafferre Hall, the main building of the MU College of Engineering.
“It was truly a momentous day in the history of our college, and I would like to extend my thanks to all who worked so hard to bring this project to fruition,” said Interim Engineering Dean Bob Schwartz. “We are ready to begin work on this project, and discussions with our campus facilities representatives have already been initiated.”
In addition to repairing masonry and replacing deteriorated windows and roofs, the area will be renovated to include experiential teaching and learning labs along with space for computer labs and a student machine shop. The renovations will produce an additional 20,000 square feet of research space for electrical and computer engineering, chemical engineering and mechanical and aerospace engineering faculty. It is estimated the project will eliminate more than $15 million in deferred maintenance.
“Today, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require some training in math or science,” Nixon said. “We can’t prepare our students for the jobs of the next century in facilities designed in the last century. That’s why this project is so important not only to enhance the educational experience of students here at MU, but also to strengthen our state’s ability to compete and create jobs in the global economy.”
Senate Bill 723, passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor this year, increased the amount of bonds that may be issued by $200 million, with the proceeds of such bonds to be used for repair or renovation of existing public higher education buildings and facilities. House Bill 2021 appropriated $38.5 million for the planning, design and construction of strategic renovations to Lafferre Hall.
“The renovations made possible with these bonds will provide our students access to state-of-the-art engineering facilities and enhance our researchers’ capabilities to conduct groundbreaking research, leading to innovation and economic growth for the state,” said MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin.
To allow the project to move forward, the governor additionally released $2.5 million in general revenue for payment of debt service on the bonds and $38.5 million in Board of Public Buildings bond funds for the actual costs of the project. The other two members of the three-member Board of Public Buildings are Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and Attorney General Chris Koster.
The University plans to begin renovations early next year with the goal of completing the project in December 2016. The renovated building will be open for classes for the Spring 2017 semester.