Campus Revitalization

It was once said of renowned architect Daniel Burnham that his greatest influence may not have been what he built, but what he imagined. He urged us all to make no little plans, to think big. And that’s exactly what we are doing at EKU as we move forward with a bold and visionary campus renewal plan that will transform the way we learn, live and work together and even change the way others perceive us.

Plans continue to unfold for a variety of exciting projects, the cost for which will be covered by an innovative combination of public-private partnerships, private dollars, a recently approved student fee and University funds. Winston Churchill once said, “We shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us.” Our destiny is in our hands.

It is indeed a great time to be a Colonel!


EKU Martin Hall Recognized as Best Multi-Family ICF project in the Country

Martin Hall

The Martin Hall replacement project at Eastern Kentucky University was recently recognized as Best Multi-Family ICF project in the Country.

The floors of Martin Hall are constructed with precast prestressed hollow core concrete planks spanning to the exterior ICF bearing walls with an upset steel beam and column system providing interior support at the corridor. The use of the bottom plated steel beam to support the planks allowed for a total structure depth, including concrete topping, to be less than 12 inches.

The structural system was selected after carefully comparing to other systems such as concrete masonry, steel frame and cold-formed metal. ICF was chosen over the other systems for several reasons:

  • Construction Costs
  • Speed of Construction
  • Robustness of Structure
  • Long Term Durability
  • Sound Attenuation
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Reduced Story Heights
  • No Column Conflicts With Floor Plan 

For more information about the Insulating Concrete Forms Award visit:


New Recreation and Wellness Center Includes Many Features

New Student and Wellness Recreation Center

Those on campus have seen the new EKU Recreation and Wellness Center rise up from the site of the recently-demolished Todd and Dupree buildings, located in the center of campus adjacent to Powell Plaza.  This building, along with the new Case Dining Hall and the soon-to-reopen renovated Powell Student Center will greatly enliven this campus area.  The new Rec Center will include the following features:

  • Three side-by-side basketball courts surrounded by a running track
  • A large climbing wall and bouldering area
  • A multi-use gym area for indoor soccer and other sports
  • A large cardio and strength area on two floors overlooking Powell Plaza
  • A recreational pool complete with a vortex pool, spa and sauna
  • Three racquetball courts
  • Several activity and classroom spaces for various types of activities, including dance and yoga
  • An elevated outdoor terrace for classes and activities

The new Rec and Wellness center will also feature a pedestrian walkway connecting the turnabout at Park Drive with the remaining drive in front of Palmer Hall, improving the pedestrian experience on campus

Student Recreation an Wellness Center


Powell Building's First Phase is Complete

Powell Building

Powell Building

The Powell Student Center was built in 1971, and serves as the heart of campus life. Current rennovations will better serve a new generation of Colonels.  The renovation will incorporate the mid-century modern heritage of this building with contemporary interiors and updated mechanical and electrical systems, making it more comfortable and better adapted to current needs. 

New spaces in the recently-opened firstphase of Powell include a Starbucks, Steak ‘n Shake and U. S. Bank, and a visit to this area on the plaza level gives a preview of the new look of Powell. Brian Wilcox, Associate VP of Facilities Services, Capital Construction and Project Administration said, "With the Powell renovation, we are enhancing the student experience by investing in student organizations and student-life programs". (EKU Vision 2020, Strategic Initiative 2.3.4).  

When the remainder of Powell opens in 2020 it will include other new amenities such as a relocated Barnes and Noble, new spaces for Student Government, an updated game room that will feature video games developed at EKU, an expanded multicultural space and many more meeting spaces for a variety of campus activities. 


Celebrity Designer Brings Wow Factor to EKU

2017 Photo of Carloftis Garden and Martin Hall

Decades before landscape designer Jon Carloftis grew up along the banks of the Rockcastle River in the Appalachian foothills, the Richmond campus of what is now EKU was described as The Campus Beautiful.

Carloftis Garden, dedicated in May 2017, only adds to the splendor, reminding the campus and community that as new buildings of every purpose are altering the skyline, the addition of attractive green spaces at ground level is no less critical in the University’s ongoing revitalization.

landscape designer Jon Carloftis

Though Carloftis has acquired a national reputation as the “Gardener to the Stars,” the EKU garden is the first he ever designed for a public university campus. Fronting New Martin Hall at the intersection of Lancaster Avenue and Park Drive, it replaces tennis courts that were moved to the south side of campus, greatly enhancing the aesthetic appeal on the University’s western periphery.

“We wanted to do a garden that was a wow factor,” said Carloftis, who received an honorary doctor of humanities degree from Eastern in 2014. “You want something that’s going to have an impact.”

It certainly had that effect on Shalomel Achi, a junior public health major who spoke at the dedication. “I’m thankful for the green space you’re making available to us,” she said. “I’ve seen Eastern be transformed, and I’ve come to love it more.”

--This article also appears in the Fall 2017 EKU Magazine 

More About Carloftis Garden

Carloftis Garden is two acres, which is about 1.5 times the size of a football field, and it uses a high-tech irrigation system that relies on sensors to determine when the grounds need watered – you won’t see a sprinkler running during a rain shower. Additionally, about 75 percent of the plants in the garden are native Kentucky species.

The centerpieces of the garden are twin fountains, one of which was donated by EKU Hall of Distinguished Alumni member Scott Northcutt, ’84, to honor his wife of 28 years, the former Anne Allegrini, ’86. The two met at EKU just two weeks before he graduated.

“The garden is a wonderful addition to the EKU campus... and captures the spirit of The Campus Beautiful,” Northcutt said. “The water continuously flowing symbolically expresses my love for my wife as new, ever evolving and renewing.”

Mr. Northcutt, a first-generation college graduate, is global senior vice president for Bacardi Limited. The Northcutts reside in Bermuda, but their minds often wander back to Eastern.

Carloftis Garden is just one component of the University’s ongoing campus revitalization plan, which includes new academic facilities, residence halls and dining hall, as well as various aesthetic enhancements.


New Residence Halls, Science Bldg. Phase 2 Open

Science Building, Phase two

With two new suite-style residence halls that “can compete against any in the nation,” Eastern Kentucky University is experiencing an upsurge in students choosing to live on the Richmond campus.

The two new residence halls are not the only new facilities that will welcome EKU students this fall. The second phase of the University’s New Science Building also opens, as well as the Eastern Scholar House for single parents.

In addition, a new 320-space parking garage, the first at Eastern, is expected to open shortly after the fall semester begins, and Case Dining Hall will open in January 2018.  It’s all part of the University’s ongoing revitalization initiative, designed to transform the living and learning experience for EKU students.

New Martin Hall photoTogether, the two new residence halls, North Hall (at the intersection of Kit Carson Drive and Madison Drive) and New Martin Hall (at the intersection of Lancaster Avenue and Park Drive), will house 1,137 beds. Both residence halls were financed via a public-private partnership, with no taxpayer dollars involved.

According to April Barnes, executive director of housing and residential life, both of the new halls are expected to be at or near 100 percent occupancy by the beginning of the fall semester. In all, housing applications for this fall total 4,558, up from 4,450 a year ago.

“These facilities can compete against any in the nation,” Barnes said. “If student housing is on a potential student’s concern list, they will now have brand new housing to compare to other universities. EKU will be able to compete with other institutions in a way it hasn’t been able to before the new builds. Students will want to live here, and stay here.”

Among other students, New Martin Hall will house Honors, Justice and Safety, and Professional Golf Management living/learning communities. The former Martin Hall opened in 1962. North Hall will include Panhellenic sororities.

Some lucky residents of New Martin Hall have an added bonus: a westward view that looks out over the newly completed Carloftis Garden, also made possible by a public-private partnership.

Data shows that students who live on campus are more likely to persist to graduation.

As the University brings its two new halls online, two residential facilities built in 1964, Todd and Dupree, will be razed beginning Aug. 2 and continuing into early October. A new, much larger, student recreation center, financed by a student fee approved by the Student Senate in 2015, will be built on the former site of the two halls. Construction on the new rec center will begin this fall and is expected to be complete by Fall 2019. To follow progress at the site, visit

The completion of the New Science Building, adding the departments of biological sciences and geosciences and giving Eastern the largest such facility on any campus in Kentucky, is expected to make the University even more competitive for faculty, make graduates more competitive in the workplace and help address deficits in STEM disciplines throughout the Commonwealth and nation.

Speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony for Phase 2 in 2014, Dr. Malcom Frisbie, a biology professor who served as faculty shepherd for both phases, said the building “will impact every single EKU student. It’s hard to overstate the impact it will have on our students and in our section of the world. This is a huge deal, and it will make a huge difference for Eastern Kentucky University and the region.”

The Eastern Scholar House, owned and operated by Eastern Scholar House LLLP, represents a partnership with state federal agencies, the City of Richmond and the Kentucky River Foothills Development Council (KRFDC). The project will provide services including case management, life skills, etc., and access to subsidized housing and childcare for single parents committed to furthering their education. The University provided a long-term land lease for the property, located on the eastern periphery of campus just east of the science and health sciences complexes, as well as access to services and amenities; the Kentucky Housing Corporation was the primary funder; and KRFDC will manage the facility.

Case Dining Hall, under construction now on the former site of Case Hall and Annex, is financed by Aramark Educational Services LLC as part of a $37 million agreement signed last year that ensured the firm would provide dining services for the campus for the next 15 years. The first floor will feature retail food options; the second floor will feature an all-you-can-eat main dining hall; and the third floor will house offices, small classrooms and a multipurpose room. Once Case Dining Hall is operational in January, renovations will begin on the Powell Student Center, with expected completion in late 2019. The Powell project is financed by the same student fee as the recreation center.

Recent and ongoing improvements to several athletics facilities, financed by agency bonds and private donations, include a 3,000-seat east-side grandstand at Roy Kidd Stadium. The facility also includes concessions, restrooms and locker room facilities.

Freshmen will begin moving in on Wednesday, Aug. 16, and the first day of classes will be Monday, Aug. 21. With the addition of the parking garage and other new spaces scattered around the campus, students will have more parking options from which to choose this fall.

Details regarding dedication ceremonies for the new facilities will be announced soon.

Inset photo: New Martin Hall, with Carloftis Garden in foreground.


Parking Update from President Benson

Parking Garage Rendering

EKU is experiencing an incredible period of growth both in enrollment and physical facilities. Just two years ago we introduced a campus revitalization plan to launch the most comprehensive campus upgrades at Eastern in more than 50 years. The Center for Student Life is the signature element of the plan, consisting of new residence halls, a dining facility, renovated student center, new recreation center, the Carloftis Gardens, a Lancaster Avenue pedestrian gateway and EKU’s first parking garage, all at the heart of the Campus Beautiful. Most of the projects are nearing completion and will be open for the start of the fall 2017 semester. Additional projects are underway and are scheduled to be complete in 2018. Part of the transformation includes a pedestrian-friendly campus that leaves central areas open to foot traffic, routing vehicles to the perimeter of campus.

These improvements enhance the natural beauty of our campus and bolster safety for our students, faculty and staff. It also requires an adjustment to our driving and parking patterns. As we grow here at EKU, we know this has presented parking challenges, and I have heard your concerns. Parking concerns on a college campus are certainly not unique to EKU, but the extent of our campus improvements coupled with EKU’s record enrollment growth does present distinctive opportunities to better manage parking resources. I would like to provide a few updates on the strategic development of the 2017-18 parking plan for our University. 

  • With the opening of EKU’s first parking garage and the restoration of several lots offline during construction, there will be a net gain of campus parking spaces for 2017-18. We are also currently assessing possible lot additions along Summit Street. The exact number of new spaces and designated zones are still being determined, and there will be some new areas going offline due to the next phase of construction projects, but we are pleased to offer more parking options for the next academic year.
  • EKU Parking and Transportation Services will begin the transition to become an auxiliary service during the 2017-18 year. This means general University funds will not be used to fund the department and can be reallocated to other academic or student service needs. As an auxiliary unit the department will be able to self-fund needed parking lot maintenance, construction of new parking lots and the operation of the new parking garage. The transition plan is currently being developed, and we will communicate any changes to parking services as soon as those details are finalized. While we anticipate some adjustments to permit fees, we will work to limit the impact to our students, faculty and staff.
  • An ad hoc parking advisory group has been formed, led jointly by Lora Snider, Executive Director of University Business Services, and Robert Mullaney, Assistant Professor, Occupational Science & Therapy/co-chair of the Faculty Welfare Committee. This group held its first meeting last week to offer feedback on parking zone plans, permit pricing structure and the transition of the parking department to an auxiliary service.
  • The University and our Big E Transit partners at Kentucky River Foothills have purchased and are currently testing a mobile transportation app that will offer bus passengers real-time tracking of bus routes and schedules. This technology will be introduced for use this fall and will greatly assist in planning for arrivals and departures of Big E Transit buses serving EKU with routes both on and off campus. You will find current schedules at
  • Finally, to assist in these plans, all registered EKU parking permit holders are encouraged to participate in a campus parking and transportation survey. Please respond when you see the survey this week in your campus email or through EKU Direct. This is an important tool to assess parking patterns, preferences and challenges. You are invited to share your feedback through the survey, and we value your opinions.

It will take collaboration across campus departments to develop a comprehensive campus parking plan to meet the needs of students, faculty, staff and visitors. Just as the face of our campus is changing, we will also need to shift our campus culture to a proactive approach to parking. All of us should identify parking options in advance, and allow sufficient time to and from designated lots. Please keep that in mind as you are planning your schedule for the next semester. We will continue to provide updates on EKU parking and transportation services as the plans are completed to help you stay informed.


New Case Dining Hall Topping Off Ceremony


"Topping Out' Ceremony Held for Dining Hall

"Topping Out' Ceremony Held for Dining Hall

A central part of a college community’s life will soon be facilitated in the heart of the Eastern Kentucky University campus.

A “topping out”’ ceremony on Thursday, March 23, marked a milestone in the construction of a new dining hall at EKU. The three-story, 55,000-square foot facility is under construction on the site formerly occupied by the Case Hall and Annex and is expected to begin serving students, faculty, staff and visitors in January 2018.

The University and Aramark Educational Services LLC signed a $37 million agreement last year that called for the food services vendor to finance and construct the dining facility and provide dining services for the campus for the next 15 years. A recently enacted student fee will finance renovations to the adjacent Powell Building, current home of dining facilities, for use as a student union facility. The same fee will also finance a new recreation center nearby. The additions and renovations are all part of an ongoing campus revitalization initiative designed to transform the living and learning experience at EKU.

After members of the campus community signed a beam to be placed atop the new dining hall, EKU President Michael Benson addressed those gathered for the ceremonial occasion.

“The time was right ... and it all came together,” Benson said. “Aramark made an investment in EKU, and we made an investment in Aramark. This is an investment in our future and an investment in our students. We’re going to see new life coming to this part of campus.

“The food element is an integral component of a living-and-learning community. Think about the conversations that will happen around dining tables, the opportunities to engage. This is a great day, a maroon-letter day.”

Randy Brookshire, principal with Ross Tarrant Architects, which designed the facility, said the ceremony “means that progress is being made. This is the heart of campus, and I think it will be a real vibrant space.”

The first floor will feature retail food options, with the second floor hosting an all-you-can-eat main dining hall. Offices, small classrooms and a multipurpose room will be located on the top floor. The facility will also include private dining spaces that can be reserved for campus events.

The new dining hall will also feature an energy-efficient design and ample natural light with windows facing the adjacent Memorial Plaza, as well as easy access from several directions.

“Topping out” ceremonies date back to ancient societies, according to Paul Gannoe, associate vice president for facilities services and capital planning at EKU, who also spoke at the event. A similar ceremony was held across the street in August 2015 for phase 2 of the University’s New Science Building, which is now nearing completion. When both phases of joined, it will be the largest science facility on any campus in Kentucky.


Pedway, Turner Gate, Carloftis Garden & Martin

Aerial Footage of EKU Campus on Lancaster Avenue

Watch the Video on Twitter @EKUPrez


Update on Campus Revitalization

Update on Campus Revitalization

Eastern Scholar House, in partnership with Kentucky River Foothills and others, is expected to be completed in Summer 2017.

"Growth Happens Here" It was the theme of President Michael Benson’s back-to-school convocation message in August 2016, and it’s an impossible-to-miss reality for current and prospective students, faculty, staff, alumni, and visitors in an era of rapid and transformational change at Eastern Kentucky University.

 As part of an ongoing effort to attract, retain and graduate more of the best and brightest students and provide a living and learning environment that matches the high quality of its academic programs and services, the University has embarked on the most ambitious campus revitalization program in the institution’s long and rich history.

 Within the past decade, Eastern has added the first phase of a New Science Building, a Center for the Arts, an adjacent apartment complex to its campus housing stock, the Noel Studio for Academic Creativity, and a pedway across Lancaster Avenue, in addition to new signage and numerous cosmetic enhancements. But that was merely a foretaste of what’s to come in 2017 and beyond:

  • Phase 2 of the New Science Building is on track for completion the summer of 2017. The addition, which will house the departments of Biological Sciences and Geosciences, will give EKU the largest such facility on any college campus in Kentucky and help boost enrollment and success in the vitally important STEM disciplines.
  • Two new residence halls, both financed by a public-private partnership, are expected to open in time for the Fall 2017 semester. New Martin Hall, on the site of the former Martin Hall, and New Hall B, on Kit Carson Drive, will make on-campus living more appealing to current and prospective students, positively impacting enrollment and student success.
  • Construction of a new dining hall, financed by the campus dining vendor, Aramark Educational Services LLC as part of a 15-year agreement, is expected to open in January 2018. The hall is located between the Powell Building and Case Hall.
  • A new Eastern Scholar House, in partnership with Kentucky River Foothills and others, is expected to be completed in Summer 2017. Priority admission for the Scholar House program (apartments and childcare center) will be given to single parents, with dependent children, who are pursuing college degrees. All Scholar House residents will be required to participate in the program’s comprehensive supportive services. The Eastern Scholar House will be located on the former site of Brockton Apartments and near the current Fitness and Wellness Center.
  • A new 320-space parking garage adjacent to the Scholar House, part of the same public-private partnership that is financing the new residence halls, is expected to open in Summer 2017.
  • Carloftis Garden, near the intersection of Lancaster Avenue and Park Drive and also part of the residence hall public-private partnership, is expected to be complete in Summer 2017. The garden, bearing the name of a nationally known landscape designer Jon Carloftis, is adjacent to the new Turner Gate, an attractive new pedestrian entrance near the intersection of Lancaster Avenue and Barnes Mill Road. Craig Turner, chair of the EKU Board of Regents, and wife Madonna, both Eastern alumni, donated the funds for the manufacturing and installation of the gateway.
  • Planning is underway for both a renovated student union and a new student recreation and wellness center, both financed by a student special usage fee. Construction should begin on the fitness center in Fall 2017, with an expected completion date of Spring 2019. Renovations to the student union should begin in Spring 2019, with completion expected in 2020.
  • Completion of a second pedway, to traverse the Eastern By-Pass near Alumni Coliseum, is expected in Fall 2017, making for a better and safer connection between north and south campuses. The second pedway is also financed by the student special usage fee.
  • The New Earle Combs Stadium and New Gertrude Hood Stadium, improvements in baseball and softball facilities, will be ready during the spring seasons.
  • An expansion project on the east side of Roy Kidd Stadium, to be completed in time for the 2017 football season, will add to the fan experience as it will include more than 3,000 new bleacher seats and a concourse that will feature modern concessions and restrooms. The first floor will include new locker rooms, equipment room, game-day training area, and more. The athletics facility renovations and expansions are funded through agency bonds sold in 2015.
  • In partnership with Life Fitness, a dramatically expanded and renovated Strength and Conditioning Center will include a nutrition bar and serve all 17 varsity sports and more than 300 student-athletes.

“These improvements will transform the way members of the campus community learn, live and work together, and even change the way others perceive us,” Benson said.