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Belknap changes to beautify, improve safety on campus

by UofL Today last modified Oct 15, 2010 02:22 PM

The face of Belknap Campus is changing for the better.

Belknap changes to beautify, improve safety on campus

A rendering of the proposed area outside MITC.

By spring 2011, campus will have a new pedestrian gateway and entrance at the corner of Third Street and Eastern Parkway, a new entrance to the north end of campus at Cardinal Boulevard between the School of Music and the College of Education and Human Development and a new plaza and sculpture court near the Miller Information Technology Center. The Freedom Park project at Second Street and Cardinal Boulevard also will be completed.

All of the projects will be underway this semester, and all are scheduled to be completed no later than March 1.

"Belknap Campus will have quite a different look and feel by next spring," said Kathleen Smith, chief of staff for President James Ramsey. "These enhancements will welcome visitors with dramatic gateways."

While they will enhance the Belknap appearance, they also are designed to improve student safety and provide more convenient access onto and around campus. The projects will cost almost $7 million, all of which will come through federal and state grants or private funding sources.

Here are brief descriptions of each project:

Freedom Park

In 2002, the university unveiled a plan to create Freedom Park in the parcel of land bordered by Second and Third streets and Cardinal Boulevard on the northwest end of Belknap Campus. According to documents about its creation, the park, which will include city-owned land on which sits a 115-year-old Confederate monument, will commemorate Louisville's role in the "universal struggle for civil rights."

The park will feature historic tree plantings, historical markers, outdoor exhibit areas, a plaza around The Playhouse, attractive lighting and a pergola - or trellis-like shelter. Seating for a TARC stop will be added on its northern edge. That bus line will run directly to the new downtown arena for UofL men's and women's basketball games.

Eventually, Freedom Park will include a large sculpture to counterbalance the Confederate monument. Displays also will be incorporated into the space, providing exhibits and information about Louisville's role in the Civil War, the civil rights movement and other time periods.

At its 2002 dedication, UofL President Ramsey said: "Freedom Park will serve as a starting point for meaningful dialogue about our history, about the struggle for freedom and about our role in securing and ensuring freedom for generations to come."

Third and Eastern Parkway Gateway

While not quite the southwestern edge of campus, the corner of Third Street and Eastern Parkway signals to visitors they have arrived at the University of Louisville.

That signal is about to become more obvious.

Construction to turn the corner into a more formal pedestrian gateway will begin by Oct. 1. The area will have UofL signage, improved lighting, a large pedestrian area, bicycle racks, steps and a handicapped accessible ramp for easier access to that corner of campus.

The Cardinal Shuttle bus stop on Third Street located near the entrance to the Oval will be moved nearer the new corner to be more convenient for students, faculty and staff headed to the Speed School of Engineering, the Natural Science Building and other facilities in that area. That stop will feature a new shelter to protect bus riders from inclement weather.

North Entrance Gateway

Visitors to the north side of campus often have a hard time finding the entrance, and even more difficulty navigating the traffic. The new entrance gateway is designed to improve safety, slow vehicles and enhance the appearance of that heavily congested area.

It will include a bicycle lane; landscaping and lighting improvements; signage to the planetarium, schools and other buildings in that area; a center turn lane; bus pull-off; and a bicycle pavilion with large racks and lockers.

MITC Plaza

The current area in front of the Miller Information Technology Center will be replaced by a larger, more attractive plaza that features a well-known Louisville landmark: Artist Barney Bright's Truth and Justice sculpture that once stood in front of the Legal Arts Building at Seventh and Market streets.

The sculpture will be enhanced by a granite infinity pool with trees and concrete benches lining the sides of the plaza. Existing landscaping will be replaced with pavers and groundcover.

 "The plaza will provide a gathering space for students, faculty and staff to enjoy the beauty of the area and the art," Smith said.

The sculpture and renovated plaza are being donated by Bernard Trager, chairman of Republic Bancorp Inc.

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