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Building Your Dream UNLV

Some thoughts on what might go into our campus of tomorrow.

Campus News  |  Mar 30, 2017  |  By Jason Scavone
A rendering of a Downtown Hyperloop station

A rendering of a Downtown Hyperloop station, as envisioned by master of architecture students Jas Le, Samantha Anderson, Nahal Davoudi, and Christina Bahnan.

Let’s say a genie gives you three wishes, but stipulates that those wishes have to improve the UNLV campus in some way. (It’s a genie who’s grateful to get out of the bottle, but has strong opinions about academic communities — just roll with it.)

What would you want? A shiny new science lab with the latest and greatest in vials, spectrometers, and Hadron colliders both large and small? An auditorium in rich, ancient wood and fine leather seats for the most luxe in concert experiences? A hoverboard skate park? (It’s the hoverboard skate park, isn’t it?)

There are already plenty of people on campus dreaming about what to do with the real estate of the future. Including the hopefully-very-near future.

Architecture professor Glenn Nowack challenged his  graduate-level research studio students to connect Las Vegas to other regional cities via Tesla’s emerging Hyperloop project.

Master of architecture students Jas Le, Samantha Anderson, Nahal Davoudi, and Christina Bahnan came up with a Hyperloop station that could link UNLV and UNR in a statewide academic tour de force.

Using a Downtown-based central station, near the Historic Fifth Street School that houses UNLV’s Downtown Design Center, a main line would run from downtown Reno to Las Vegas. Feeder, intracity Hyperloop lines would bring passengers Downtown for the 40-minute trip to the Biggest Little City.

“We decided to do Las Vegas and Reno because I don't see any states that have separation like between Reno and Las Vegas,” Le said. “There's always competition between the two cities. Not just in education, but in economics, politics and everything else. We thought this would develop Las Vegas as well as Reno, and Nevada in general.”

That downtown station would be so much more than a launch pad for the theoretically revolutionary means of travel. Le and company’s kinetic structure would use hexagonal pods that swarm to areas of high demand to create more platform space during rush hours. The rest of the time, the pods could reform for, say, café space during the lunch rush. It’s an idea based on a Harvard study on self-assembly systems.

Dave Frommer, executive director of planning and construction, has more grounded dreams for the future of campus. He wants to see expanded interdisciplinary research space, expansion of the library for special collections, and an art gallery along the campus frontage.

Some dream projects may be closer than others, though.

Frommer is in the early stages of planning for a new engineering building near the Thomas T. Beam Engineer Complex and the Science and Engineering Building. He's also working on plans for a new building for the Business College. 

"We're looking at the former site of Maude Frazier Hall, right on Maryland Parkway, as a kind of community-engaged building, with the business school being one of those programs [where] a lot of what they do is community partnerships," he said. "We think having that be a Maryland Parkway front-door kind of building would be very appropriate and support that engagement and be good for the community, business college and UNLV.” 

Rendering of proposed nursing and physical therapy education building

The School of Nursing proposed in 2013 a 72,000-square-foot nursing and physical therapy education building adjacent to Shadow Lane’s Building B, while School of Allied Health Sciences Dean Ronald Brown would like to go even bigger: a 200,000-square-foot building with dry and wet lab space next to the School of Medicine.

There were calls around campus for a health sciences library with access to current research and data at Shadow Lane; a special collections and archives gallery to showcase interactive exhibits on Las Vegas history; a modernized Ham Concert Hall; a building for the department of mathematical sciences; and a new Student Union complex that would include a central food court with four buildings oriented around it on the points of a compass, for meeting space, student leadership offices, administrative offices, and an on-campus hotel in partnership with the Hotel College.

Variations of that last idea came up more than once. “The more we could put campus out in the community, that’s where we should be investing,” Nowak said. “It could be exciting to see some built spaces that are shared by the university and the hospitality industry. A laboratory hotel, essentially. A couple universities have working hotels on campus, and students are getting experience in the hotel. We could probably have additional presence up and down Las Vegas Boulevard.”

Then there are the ideas that are going to put that genie to the test:

Getting around campus in style

Getting around campus in style

  • “A trolley that goes all around campus picking up students, faculty, staff, and visitors, and transports them to their location. It would need a bell and a conductor. All aboard!” Amy Bouchard, senior director of administration and communications, UNLV Alumni Relations
  • “I'd like a contiguous shaded pathway that covers all of campus so that you can comfortably walk from one end to the other — in July. Water fountains  along the route would be a big plus. (And an outdoor lap/recreational pool? Aaahhhhhh!)” Marian Alper, director of donor relations, UNLV Foundation
  • “Speedy moving walkways all over campus to make getting from one end of campus to the other faster.” Sam Leif, assistant director of operations, Office of Admissions
  • “What if there was a tram that extended from the Lied Library to the Student Union? That would be something. Or much cooler — underground walkways for students to get to classes quicker and avoid the heat (or cold). We could even shape those tunnels to look like underground caverns, filled with fake (or real) crystals and stalagmites.” Kevin McVay, publicity and program logistics coordinator, Student Engagement and Diversity

Everyone wants to get wet

Everyone wants to get wet

  • “A resort-style pool on the rooftop of every building.” Maggie Hausbeck, associate director of alumni relations and development, William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration
  • “Rooftop pool with cabanas, thumping music, drinks with umbrellas and a swim-up bar at the Richard Tam Alumni Center so alumni can come home in style.” Amy Bouchard
  • “An outdoor pool for Student Recreation and Wellness Center.” Jon Tucker, director, Student Union & Event Services
  • “An outdoor pool, right on the SRWC lawn. I know that this was the plan before the indoor pool was created, but I think an outdoor pool would be lovely. Now granted, it would be difficult to maintain and there would be a lot of water evaporation during the summer months, but getting to breathe fresh, natural air while swimming would be wonderful.” Kevin McVay

No love for the classics

No love for the classics

  • “Repurpose FDH into whatever the opposite of FDH is — asbestos-free, functioning thermostats, inspiring color choices, bigger windows —modern, clean, pretty.” Kristin Bloomquist, export control officer, Office of Research Integrity



  • “Physical fitness doesn't end with high school. Built on the quad, students enjoy testing their skills on playground and jungle gym obstacles after grabbing lunch in the Student Union. The playground at UNLV is the largest in the world and key selling point for new students.” Amy Bouchard
  • “An observation wheel of classrooms or restaurants (an innovative Student Union).” Jill Zimbelman, executive assistant to the vice president of the Office of Economic Development
  • “How about a virtual reality building/floor/space where people could don virtual reality headsets and experience a different world?” Sam Leif
  • “I've heard that staff at the Lied Library refer to parts of the building as Club Lied. A long, long time ago, I imagined (out of wishful thinking) that there was a secret sixth floor lounge of the Lied Library, only open to Very Important Rebels. This lounge would serve snacks, drinks, and have a nice energetic vibe, complete with house music, a large stray from the quiet nature of the library itself.” Kevin McVay
  • “Let's build a dome theater on UNLV's campus — think about all of the amazing films that could be displayed on it. There could even be an optional academic project for film students where they have to create a movie that is designed to fit on a dome screen.” Kevin McVay, publicity & program logistics coordinator in student engagement and diversity

The Great Outdoors

The great outdoors

  • “An outdoor garden restaurant with beautiful landscaping and misters and heaters in between Lied and Barrick for visitors, in place of the parking lot,” Patricia Iannuzzi, dean of University Libraries
  • “An off-site retreat and conference center in a wooded area that focuses on sustainability, self-sufficiency, and providing housing and event space for UNLV and non-UNLV groups.” Jon Tucker
  • “A large park on campus, with maybe a lake underneath a bridge. Possibly similar to some of our current parks like Sunset Park or Exploration Park. I'd like to see something like this expanded with natural trails, hikes, and recreational activities right on our campus.” Kevin McVay
  • “It'd be amazing if UNLV had a zen rock garden that promoted peace, relaxation, and mindfulness. It'd be a great place to meditate and wind down after a long day of classes.” Kevin McVay
  • “How about a team-building center with a ropes course, zip line, and rock wall? We could offer team building for students, departments, and corporate groups.” Heather Rappaport, assistant director for sales and business, Student Union and Event Services
  • “An outdoor ice rink from Thanksgiving through Jan. 15. There's something beautiful about ice in the desert. We could teach students how to ice skate as a final exams stress reliever.” Heather Rappaport

It will save on weekend errands, at least

It will save on weekend errands, at least

  • “Dry cleaners with $1 shirt/skirt and $2 dress/suit service. Along with a shoe repair area on hand for those random heel repairs from walking all over campus, and most importantly, runners for each department to pick up and deliver your goods if you can't drop it off.” Cicely Morgan, program coordinator, TRiO Educational Talent Search Program

Ric Ocasek didn’t care about the Cars this much

Ric Ocasek didn't care about the cars this much

  • “An auto shop. One that can do car repair/maintenance/general servicing while I am at work, that has a nice satellite work station that has connection to my office so that I am not really losing time while I wait for something like an oil change or tire repair.” Cicely Morgan
  • “How cool would it be if UNLV had one of those automated self-parking garages, where a machine parked your car for you? All you'd have to do was drive to a specific position, and the garage technology would do the rest, parking your car in a high-rise.” Kevin McVay
  • “Underground parking garages.” Maggie Hausbeck

Are Rebels Gryffindor or Slytherin?

Are Rebels Gryffindor or Slytherin?

  • “UNLV should build its own personal Hogwart’s castle. Enough said there.” Kevin McVay