Science - March 19, 2009

SECOND BUILDING PHASE TO COST 100 MILLION

Wageningen UR is more than halfway through its strategic building programme, says Tijs Breukink, who holds the buildings portfolio on the executive board. Over the past seven years, the Atlas, Forum and Radix buildings have gone up and the Leeuwenborch has undergone renovation. Rikilt’s new home – Vitae – is nearly ready. ‘ASG and AFSG still to go, plus the new education building.’

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Breukink recalls again the aims of the building plan. ‘We wanted to bring the university and the DLO institutions together in one place, to renovate buildings and to increase efficiency. Office space had to be cut down from 475 thousand square metres to 300 thousand, a reduction of 35 percent.’
The building costs were then projected to be 160 million Euros, which, corrected for inflation, is about 180 million by now. About 130 million of this has been spent. ‘Up to now we have stayed within this budget’, reports Breukink with satisfaction.
The building budget has since been increased, however. It became clear last year that, with the substantial growth in student numbers, a second education building is needed. ‘We expect student numbers to grow to 7500 in the university, and the Forum wasn’t built to cope with that. And the building plan assumed that the Agrotechnology and Food Science department (ATV) would only come to the Born campus in 2020. But it has since been decided to bring that forward to 2013’, says Breukink. ‘Together with several extra investments, this means investments to the tune of 100 million Euros for the second phase.’
The original calculations worked out at 70 million Euros higher again, says Breukink. ‘We kept the costs down by designing buildings functionally and through efficient timetabling. Knowledge units have also made a certain amount of space available for teaching purposes.’ Between them the knowledge units are going to provide three thousand square metres of space for education. ‘It is fantastic to see that we can achieve this through efforts and sacrifices by many people in our organization’, says Breukink.
And where will Wageningen get 100 million from? ‘We are going to borrow most of it on the capital market, but we have funds of our own too’, Breukink explains. The exact proportions are not yet known. Through the efficiency drive to use fewer square metres, Wageningen UR saves money on the exploitation of buildings. Sales of superfluous land and buildings also bring in some one-off income.
In spite of the recession, the new education building is definitely going ahead. And so is the renovation of the ‘banana’: building 122 which houses plant researchers and part of the VWA (Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority). Once the plant researchers have moved to Radix and the VWA has moved in with Rikilt, animal scientists from Zodiac will move into this building. New accommodation for the AFSG is also to be built on the campus to make it possible for the university’s Food science groups to move from the Biotechnion. And there are to be teaching rooms in the Technotron. Whether the move of the whole ATV department onto campus will be brought forward is not yet certain, however. This would require new buildings, and for the executive board, that is an investment that has to depend on Dutch government policy on the recession.

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