SFSU seeks to redefine reputation

San Francisco State University is using its growing pains as an excuse to redesign its image.

No longer content to be the state college in the southwest corner of town, SFSU wants to be front and center in the community's mind: as a place of academic excellence, but also for its fine arts events, athletics and recreational offerings.

Among its first gifts to the community, SFSU hopes to build a new $110 million Creative Arts building, which will have a 1,200-seat auditorium and 350-seat recital hall. That plan goes to the California State University board of trustees for approval this May. If giventhe green light, construction is scheduled to begin in 2009, with doors opening in late 2012.

This project and others will be part of a new 20-year master plan the college is preparing. The plan would address expansion concerns as the college anticipates adding the equivalent of 5,000 new full-time students to its current population of 29,000.

The key design features evolved from the vision statement for the college to have a “visible and active presence in The City” and a “myriad of programs and events [that] draw the greater community to the campus.” Another idea drafted would remove a parking structure to create a continuous recreational greenbelt through the college connecting 19th Avenue with Lake Merced. Parking would then be decentralized throughout the

campus.

For funding, the college would compete with the other Cal State University campuses, said Richard Macias, a campus planner.

SFSU staff member Jaclyn Johnson, who is also a graduate student at the college, said she felt more people would visit the college if they knew there was accessible parking throughout.

“They're not going to come at night and hike through the college or take public transportation,”

Johnson said.

The plan also hopes to address environmental and safety concerns by improving campus conditions for bicycles, and working to improve public transportation service to the university.

“There are serious capacity problems with existing services,” said Jeffrey Tumlin, a principal with San Francisco consulting firm Nelson Nygaard. The main concern is with Muni service, which he said was not frequent enough to meet student needs.

The plan also incorporates new land and housing units purchased adjacent to the college for the growing number of students who want to live on campus while creating attractive amenities to encourage campus life, includinga new gymnasium/fitness center.

beslinger@examiner.com

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