Students will find a reconfigured hill when they return to the WKU campus in August, with a lawn filling the hole where the Garrett Conference Center once stood and a new traffic pattern that separates pedestrians from vehicles.
“There will be a lot more gathering space for students,” said facilities manager Bryan Russell. “It will be a place where students can interact between class periods.”
Filling the void of Garrett’s Hilltop demolition was the starting point for the Hilltop Restoration Project
The Garrett Conference Center was originally built in 1953 and served as a student activities building.
The building housed restaurants such as a Subway, a Panda Express, and a cafeteria. It also contained rooms that could be used for a variety of purposes and the top floor was a ballroom that could accommodate around 1,000 people for banquets, school dances and other activities.
According to the Hilltop Study Master Plan: “The removal of the Garrett Conference Center will improve views and connectivity from South Campus to North Campus and increase traffic flow through and around the new ‘Commons at Helm Library, which opened its doors in April.
Renderings of the transformed site show that the space where Garrett once stood will become a green space with multiple seating and gathering spaces.
Hilltop traffic will be rerouted, with parts of Colonnade Drive removed and replaced with overpasses. Vehicles will enter the hill on Hilltop Drive at the pylon in front of Gordon Wilson Hall, then loop around Potter Hall and exit the hill on the same road. The part of Hilltop Drive between the Gordon Wilson and Van Meter concourses, now one-way, will be two-way.
The original concept for the project was created by Luckett and Farley Architects in 2019. It was incorporated into WKU’s 2021-31 Campus Master Plan, which was developed and approved in 2021 when WKU partnered with Gensler Architects.
The master plan provides direction for development on the WKU campus for a 10-year period.
The Hilltop changes underway this summer have a project budget of $4.7 million. The goal is to have those renovations completed by the spring semester of 2023, Russell said.
“The purpose of the Master Plan is to assess and evaluate pedestrian and vehicular traffic opportunities associated with ‘Hilltop’ on the WKU campus and develop recommendations for improved access and pedestrian safety and reduced campus traffic along Hilltop Drive. according to the Hilltop Study Blueprint. “Current upgrades to Helm Library will alter pedestrian traffic patterns from areas of campus south of Hilltop Drive and impact pedestrian/vehicle conflict.”
New pedestrian walkways will be added in addition to the roads through the Colonnade which will be modified to reduce pedestrian/vehicle conflict and increase pedestrian safety. Several barrier-free upgrades under the Americans with Disabilities Act will be completed this summer.
These improvements will include additional ADA parking in the Gated Hilltop lot, ADA entry access to the first floor of Cherry Hall, improved access to the Industrial Education Building, and barrier-free routes along College Heights Boulevard and the Chapel. Chandler.
Barrier-free routes along College Height Boulevard to Chandler Chapel have already been completed, Russell said.
The 2021-2031 Campus Master Plan is available on the Planning, Design and Construction website, which includes the full Hilltop Study Plan in the Master Plan Appendix. Here you will find more information about how WKU plans to renovate the campus over the next 10 years.
“One of the beauties of a university is that every year we make improvements, they’re usually very well received,” Russell said. “I think with the interaction, going between classes and crossing roads, it will be a welcome change.”
Makaio Smith can be reached at makaio,[email protected]