Indiana University Bloomington

IU trustees approve $12M expansion, renovation of SPEA building

  • Oct. 13, 2014

Editor's note: This story from The Bloomington Herald-Times is being published here as a courtesy for readers of IU in the News.

By MJ Slaby

Graduate students at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs will have a new space.

That’s thanks to the Indiana University trustees’ decision on Friday to approve a $12 million expansion and renovation of the school.

The expansion -- three levels for a total of 29,000 square feet -- will be added to the front of the current SPEA building on 10th Street, said Tom Morrison, IU vice president for capital planning and facilities.

The new space is for graduate students, who are currently sharing a congested space with the growing undergraduate population, said SPEA Dean John Graham.

“This is an exciting day for SPEA to have this conversation,” he told the board of trustees.

The project will be funded by funds from the school, including gifts from Paul O’Neill, an IU alumnus and former U.S. secretary of the treasury, and David Wang, the founding chairman of the SPEA advisory council, Graham said. 

Now that it’s been approved, the next step is to work on a design with architects and present that for trustee approval, possibly in February, Morrison said. He said the goal is to start construction in summer 2015 and complete it in August 2016.

With the new Hodge Hall next to it, the current SPEA building is hidden, Morrison said. The expansion would bring SPEA forward to align with Hodge Hall, which is the undergraduate building for the Kelley School of Business.

It would also remove the stairs on the outside of the SPEA building, but the second-floor courtyard would stay, Morrison added.

He said the trick for architects will be to smoothly connect the old building -- built in the 1970s -- with the new addition. Morrison said that makes it similar to the Hodge Hall expansion, which was done around Kelley’s existing building.

However, he said the SPEA addition would have a different exterior.

“The goal with the architect is to have it be distinctive from the Kelley School building,” Morrison said. But he said it will be different from the current building as well. “It’ll be more consistent with the new School of Global and International Studies.”

Several trustees raised concerns that the expansion was too modest, given the popularity of SPEA. The project is about a third of the floor space added in Hodge Hall.

But both Morrison and Graham assured them that the new graduate student space will move those students, giving undergraduates more space in the current building.

Plus, Graham said, the Integrated Program in the Environment is already in the Multidisciplinary Science Building II, so the SPEA building on 10th Street is mainly the school’s public affairs arm.

Morrison said renovation to classrooms and common areas in the current building will continue, and there are additional spaces for the building to expand if need be. But when it comes to projects, it’s about filling the program’s need, which this does, he said.

Graham agreed. He said this expansion will serve graduate students for a long time. 

“For hundreds of graduate students, this project will make a big difference in their lives,” Graham said.