‘We do not need as many buildings’: MU to demolish 8 buildings in cost-and space-cutting measure

The university’s first women’s dorm and a 19th-century building are among those set for demolition in the near future.

Eight buildings on the University of Missouri campus will be demolished as part of the school’s effort to reduce maintenance costs and use space more efficiently, the university announced Thursday.

Set for eventual demolition are the Columbia Professional Building, Loeb Hall, London Hall, Neff Annex, Noyes Hall, the Old Student Health Building, Parker Hall and Read Hall. MU is seeking a buyer for a ninth building, Mizzou North.

By removing 435,000 square feet of space, MU will save more than $2.5 million in annual operating costs and remove $93.7 million from its tally of deferred maintenance work. There is currently $868 million worth of maintenance needed across campus, a university spokesperson said.

“With evolving technology, we do not need as many buildings as we once did,” Vice Chancellor for Operations Gary Ward said in a press release. “These actions will help us reduce that number significantly.”

Increased interest in remote work among staff also allows for space reduction, the release said.

There isn’t a set date for demolition projects to begin, a university spokesperson said. A Feb. 24 report detailing space reduction efforts shows that most affected buildings will be vacated within a calendar year, while Loeb Hall is already vacated.

According to the report, shifts in department location will affect at least 338 full-time employees and staff, five part-time staff, 170 graduate students and 11 research labs.

Though the buildings will remain standing, staff in Clark, Lewis, McReynolds and Middlebush Halls may relocate as part of the shifts.

The counseling center, currently located in Parker Hall, will move to Middlebush Hall.

The economics, history, math science and political science departments, which currently occupy space in the Columbia Professional Building, Read Hall and the Mathematical Sciences Building, will move to the Locust Street Building on the border of MU’s campus and downtown Columbia or another to-be-determined space.

In a Monday memo announcing the history department’s relocation that was obtained by The Maneater, department chair Catherine Rymph wrote that “[t]he Locust Street Building lacks the charm, the historical significance, and the convenience of Read Hall and I know many of us will feel a real sense of loss about this move.”

Read Hall — built in 1903 and named for Daniel Read, MU’s president from 1863-76 who opened the university to women — served as the university’s first women’s dorm and later housed The Maneater and the Missouri Students Association.

It isn’t the only one of the buildings to have a long history on the MU campus. Parker Hall was built in 1889 and served as a hospital for the medical school before the opening of University Hospital.

The university announced in 2019 that it would demolish Pickard Hall. The building, which sits on Francis Quadrangle, will be demolished within two years due to concerns over radiation from chemistry experiments once conducted in its basement.

Also part of the moves announced Thursday were the Museum of Art and Archaeology and Museum of Anthropology. Both will have collections displayed in Ellis Library while a “visioning process” is underway for the Museum of Art and Archaeology’s future, the release said.

The release also said new efficiency initiatives will also “expand the central scheduling of classes” by reducing single-department control over classroom space.

Edited by Hope Davis | hdavis@themaneater.com

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