Liberty Construction file photo

In this July 1 file photo, construction is in full swing on a new indoor football practice facility at Liberty University. The facility is one in an ongoing series of construction projects at the rapidly growing university, and school officials have tentative plans to expand further.

Liberty University’s tentative future building ideas include a graduate campus in Campbell County and a residential revamp of South Campus, among other changes.

That’s according to Alan Askew, Liberty’s vice president of major construction, speaking in a recent interview.

The concepts also are included in the “Campus Master Plan” map Liberty periodically updates online.

At this point, ideas like the graduate campus don’t have a projected timeline for design or construction, let alone any commitment by the university to complete them. They represent best guesses about what significant campus changes the university anticipates making in the future.

Liberty University’s Center for Medical and Health Sciences is on Candlers Mountain, just over the Campbell County line from its main campus in Lynchburg.

Askew said the school is interested in adding new buildings there to house the School of Law, Graduate School of Business and Graduate School of Counseling to create a “graduate campus.”

The updated map also shows the potential addition of more medical buildings in the area, too.

While the setting isn’t exactly flat lowlands, Askew said he doesn’t anticipate it would be challenging to put more buildings there, because Liberty has been leveling out the area.

 “If you drive up there sometime you can see we are filling in dirt,” he said. “Sometimes when we have dirt that we cut out of jobs that’s excess, we are hauling it up there to create these building pad sites.”

On the updated map, a “future arena” and “future parking garage” sit on the site of the current Doc’s diner and its parking lot. The area is on East Campus, near several residence halls and across U.S. 460 from the campus bookstore.

“It’s completely just a tentative idea,” Askew said.

The concept was included in the Liberty Journal in 2014, as part of a write-up on what was then the latest version of the Master Plan.

Askew said Friday the school is looking at the idea of a 5,000-seat arena for basketball games and other shows on campus. It might or might not include conference or convention space.  If a new basketball arena were built, Liberty would keep the Vines Center, but stop hosting basketball games there, he said.

Vines has the capacity for more than 9,000 students and is used to host convocation, the university’s thrice-weekly religious and educational gathering mandatory for undergraduate students.

Liberty’s athletics department, Askew explained, prefers the atmosphere of a tighter arena with fewer seats for basketball.

“They like it loud and packed,” he said.

Potentially, if basketball games moved out of the Vines Center, he said, the university could add an upper deck of seats and expand the capacity to about 14,000.

“The facility we have, that thing’s as efficient and organized as possible,” he said of the Vines Center. “But you still have to set the floor up for convocation and set the floor back for basketball when those seasons are the same, so that’s the stress.”

According to Askew, the tentative conversation has been if the arena were constructed there, Doc’s would have to be torn down, but it could have a new location in the arena building.

Aside from the graduate campus and the arena, there are some other highly tentative ideas visualized in the plan.

  • Expansion of Williams Football Stadium, dependent upon Liberty University securing a spot in a football conference that has bowl games.
  • Addition of businesses, like a restaurant, hotel, or gas station, on Liberty University-owned land at the anticipated Odd Fellows Road/U.S. 460/29 interchange.
  • Future maintenance facilities and a transportation center off Young Place, near Mayflower Drive.
  • Expansion of Liberty’s Snowflex Centre

Liberty’s map also shows a mix of projects planned, under-construction, or nearing completion.

Two more residential commons buildings are planned across the green space from Residential Commons I and II. The residential commons building that will face Lake Liberty across from the library is expected to house a new dining hall for the campus, which would replace Reber-Thomas.

The Center for Music and Worship Arts concert hall will open to students this fall, as will the new Montview Student Union, which is attached to the back of DeMoss Hall. Montview was the name for the Carter Glass estate, land that now makes up part of the Liberty campus. Askew said he thought Liberty might change the name of the student center to honor a donor if the opportunity came up.

Construction of the Freedom Tower and Rawlings School of Divinity is set to finish in late Fall 2017.

Ongoing sports facility projects include the construction of an indoor track and aquatics facility, an academic and performance center, tennis courts, and an indoor football practice facility.

Liberty University is projecting about 15,000 students studying on campus this fall, and about 8,100 students living on campus, both the highest the school has seen. School leaders plan to hold on-campus enrollment at around 15,000 for the foreseeable future, according to information from the university.

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