The University of Connecticut is nearing completion on its new regional campus in downtown Hartford, which will take the place of the old West Hartford location as the campus in the Hartford area. UConn plans for almost 2,000 total undergraduate and graduate students to take classes at the campus, and for approximately 350 faculty and staff to work there. Ideally, students will be able to take classes in Hartford for two years before having to take courses in Storrs, although it has not been confirmed whether this option will be made available.
UConn has been hard at work on this project for years, which city officials see as an opportunity to add more vibrancy to the downtown area. They also view the new campus as a way to connect the entertainment district to the rest of the downtown area. While the campus will contribute to the area, students will also have many benefits available to them. For example, there are many museums in Hartford, some of which students may even take classes in. The many businesses in Hartford will provide opportunities for students to get a head start on their careers.
Those who led the project took great efforts to ensure that the campus would not in any way “spoil” the city. Adjustments were made to the height of buildings to ensure that they would fit in with the surrounding neighborhood. The old Hartford Times building was restored on the exterior to its 1920s look while the interior was reconstructed with the modern era in mind, including a three story atrium with a steel frame.
While preserving the look of the district is commendable, the effort certainly came with a price. The cost for the campus stands at $140 million, which is about double what the original estimates were in 2003. Most of this increase came from the renovation of the Hartford Times. In addition, the final result had about 25 percent less office and classroom space than originally planned.
However, taking into account the financial problems in Connecticut and at UConn, an increase like this is something that cannot be afforded. On future projects, the university needs to look for ways to reduce costs and come in under budget instead of doubling it. This should hold especially true when the project ends up being much smaller than originally planned. UConn needs to start finding ways to improve university resources without costing students and taxpayers so heavily.