Nieuws - 17 mei 2010

Room for Aalt in Atlas?

Expensive renovation work is needed on the Wageningen UR Board Office on the Costerweg road. Is it worth the effort? A study ordered by the Executive Board is currently looking at whether it would be better to move to the campus, for example to Atlas. Calculations show this building has spare capacity.

It is unclear how much spare capacity there is in Atlas
Is relocating the Board Office part of a grand design? Certainly not, says spokesman Simon Vink. The Executive Board would really like to continue using its current building on the Costerweg road for years to come
'Our accommodation plan for the period to 2020 does not include relocation of the Board Office', says Vink.  But more stringent fire safety requirements have made the costs of renovating these premises so high, probably in the order of millions, that the Board is currently investigating alternative options.

Only last year, the Executive Board expressed a preference for staying in the centre of Wageningen. According to Vink, that is not just good for relations and links with the town and municipal government, it also makes a positive impression on those sections of the organization located outside Wageningen.  That is why the Board is also having scenarios worked out in which the Board and corporate staff remain in the current premises for another seven to ten years. Those scenarios are now being compared with the alternatives.
It is doubtful whether the Atlas building belonging to the Environmental Sciences Group (ESG) will turn out to be the best option. ESG has thirty per cent 'spare' capacity, say its directors. They had calculations made of occupancy rates in their three buildings. ESG boss Kees Slingerland wants all his staff to shift to flexible working with flexible workstations, thus ensuring the building's workstations are always in use. This approach will lead to what amounts to vacant space, which Slingerland then wants to let to third parties.

A few years ago, he offered a thousand square metres at Atlas for use as classrooms to house the growing numbers of students. In the end it turned out that offer could not be realized in practice. Five hundred square metres were turned into teaching facilities. Last year, Slingerland even wanted to 'return' the building to the Executive Board. His sums showed him he had enough space in Gaia and Lumen. Slingerland more or less offered Atlas to the university human nutrition researchers at AFSG. That far-reaching offer didn't go through.
 At present, a corner of Atlas has been reserved for Isric, but at the same time chair groups in the building are complaining about a lack of space rather than too much space.
Even so, the sums still show thirty per cent vacant space released by flexible working. Slingerland is now offering that space to the 160 corporate staff employees. A study is currently underway to see whether that space can be realized in practice. 'Atlas has a lot of lab space', says Vink. 'It is not easy to turn that into offices or teaching space.' So refurbishment costs are an issue here too.
 More options are being investigated for the accommodation of the Board and corporate staff. A new building is unlikely as the Executive Board does not have the cash for that. There is no preconceived plan available; it is simply a question of figuring something out and rearranging things.