OGDEN -- With student enrollment growing every year and with 50-year-old buildings beginning to show wear and tear, officials at Weber State University find themselves in the middle of a building boom.
Since 2008, nearly a dozen buildings and facilities on two campuses have either been knocked down or built.
The building boom kicked off with several projects in 2008 that included the construction of Elizabeth Hall and the renovation of the Bell Tower Plaza and the Shepherd Union Building.
The Shepherd Union Building provides a place for students to study, grab lunch or hang out with friends.
Erected 50 years ago, the building was reconstructed for a seismic upgrade. The change combined two existing buildings to provide a new hub for students centered around an open atrium offering food, computer labs and a bookstore.
"I just think it changed the nature and sense of the campus community for the positive in a big way," said Bill Fruth, building director.
The architecture of the building really brought the outside in, which is vastly different from the original building that was filled with corridors, doors and hallways, he said.
"It provides a campus hub. It's a centerpiece of the campus, and it reflects the university in a positive way. Often, it's the first stop for a new student, visitor or alum," Fruth said. "It provides daily use for our students. It gives them a practical place to spend their time outside of the classroom."
Several months after the Shepherd Union Building was opened for regular student activities, the campus unveiled another new structure for students: Elizabeth Hall, a 94,302-square-foot building that houses the departments of communication, English, foreign languages, telecommunication and business education.
Student housing is also in the middle of demolition and construction.
With more students wanting to live on campus, WSU is undergoing a massive reconstruction of the dormitory villages, which previously consisted of LaSal Hall, Stansbury Hall, Wasatch Hall and Promontory Tower.
The three old halls have already has been torn down, and a new building, temporarily named "New Hall 1," is housing students this fall.
"The facility is beautiful," said Brett Perozzi, associate vice president for student affairs. "It's a great example of a high-quality facility with minimal fiscal resources."
WSU didn't spend as much money on the residence halls as other schools have spent. Perozzi gave an example of a school in Arizona where he previously worked that had cabanas and pools -- amenities he said WSU students couldn't care less about.
"They want a good place to live that's attractive and gives the typical college experience."
Both New Hall 1 and University Village residence halls have been filled for the fall semester, Perozzi said.
The second new residence hall, which serves as the main centerpiece of the new area, is slated to open in fall 2012.
Finally, next spring, the campus's iconic Promontory Tower will be demolished, making room for a third building that will open in fall 2013.
A unique amenity to WSU's residence halls is the availability of parking wrapping around the three buildings, Perozzi said.
Most universities don't have accessibility for students to keep vehicles so close to where they live.
By the end of 2013, 300 beds will be added to campus, bringing the total beds available on campus to about 1,000.
Perozzi said the new dorms and the resulting increased number of students on campus will give a boost to university services, such as the WSU Student Health Center and dining services.
An added bonus, he said, is that the new dorms will also increase customers for businesses near the campus.
"There will be an impact felt for the businesses in the immediate area. Those places right off campus will see a huge benefit."
With residence hall reconstruction well under way, Norm Tarbox, vice president of administrative services, said the focus of construction plans has begun to shift toward the Davis campus.
Funding for a 120,000-square-foot building was finalized in March, with $31.5 million approved by the state.
"It will do lots of things for the university," Tarbox said of the new facility.
"It will provide urgently needed class and office space for programs in Davis. It will provide student union-type services for students in Davis -- not huge, but it will start to look like a mini student union building."
The new building will also host the Northern Utah Academy for Math, Engineering & Science, an early college high school that currently holds classes in five portables on Davis campus property.
Design work started recently, and the school hopes construction will begin either in November or by February, Tarbox said. The building is slated to be open for classes in fall 2013.
But plans for new buildings don't end with the Davis campus.
On the Ogden campus, Tarbox said, the preliminary process for two more new buildings has begun. The first, a new Science Lab Building, is estimated to cover 150,000 square feet and will be located where buildings 3 and 4 currently stand.
"We're just beginning planning on it," Tarbox said. "It will be our next state-funded request. We're going to begin going to the Board of Regents and Legislature, but it's going to take years before we work our way through the queues and get planning in place."
The current Science Lab Building, on the northeast side of campus, will most likely be torn down.
Tarbox said the second building that is being considered for remodeling is the Social Science Building.
"It's a facility that needs a significant amount of work."
The reconstruction of that building will depend largely on gift money, he said.
Those building plans are also in the early preliminary stage, but it appears it will be most efficient to reconstruct the building, rather than tear it down, he said.
Tarbox said two things push WSU to expand and build new facilities: growth and the condition of current buildings.
At the Davis campus, growth and the number of students wanting to attend classes there is pushing the university for a new building, while the Ogden campus, which was constructed mostly in the 1960s, is being pushed for remodel and replacement because the buildings are not ideal environments for teaching and learning.
"It's a trade-off between those two things," Tarbox said.
As for the future of WSU, Tarbox said university officials hope to further expand within Davis, Weber and Morgan counties.
There have been talks of having a tiny campus in the Roy or West Haven area -- about 10 to 20 acres -- and possibly bringing services to Morgan County, he said.
"I think you'll see us focus our energies on providing academic opportunities for our primary service regions. That's all in Davis, Weber and Morgan counties."
These renovations benefit more than students, Tarbox said. Not only does having a growing campus bring prestige to a community, it also brings a more educated work force to the area.
"The most important thing Weber State does is provide a skilled work force," he said. "Few things are as important to economic development as a skilled work force. Without that pipeline of skilled workers, the economy in Northern Utah would be different from what it is right now."
About Weber State University
* Weber State University was founded in 1889 as Weber Stake Academy. It became a two-year junior college in 1933.
* In 1954, the campus moved from the downtown Ogden area to its present site on Harrison Boulevard.
* In 1959, the school became a four-year college.
* In 1991, the college became Weber State University.
* The Ogden campus sits on 500 acres, with 89 percent of the buildings constructed since 1960.
* The first building on the Weber State University Davis campus in Layton opened in 2003.
* About 24,000 students are enrolled at WSU. Nearly 600
students live on the Ogden campus.
* The university employs 2,051 staff and faculty members.
Source: Weber State University