Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Board approves Foster plaza design

HUNTSVILLE – A UA System Board of Trustees committee approved the designs for Foster Auditorium’s new plaza Thursday afternoon during a meeting at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

The physical properties committee of the board approved the plaza package of the Foster renovation.

The initial phase of the project was approved in September 2006 with a preliminary budget of about $11 million. Nearly four years later, the budget has increased to approximately $16.5 million, $1.5 million of which will go toward construction on the plaza.

The plaza plan was designed to commemorate historical events that have taken place in Foster while focusing mostly on the University’s integration and former Gov. George Wallace’s famous “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door.”

The plaza will be named in honor of Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood, two students whom Wallace tried to block from entering in 1963 during “The Stand.” The clock tower will be named in honor of Autherine Lucy Foster, the first black student to attend the University.

The new renderings of the plaza show a brick clock tower that will serve as the focal point of the site. At the base of the tower will be a series of plaques bearing the likenesses of Jones, Hood and Foster.

Dan Wolfe, University planner, said he is very pleased with the progress Foster has been making.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe said that despite differing views from many members on the board regarding the project, such as if the auditorium should serve more as a memorial to the “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” or if it should celebrate the many graduations, basketball games and concerts held in the building, Wolfe said an understanding has been reached in terms of what is truly important.

“Foster was literally the hub of the campus,” Wolfe said. “The things that are truly significant are the race issues. Those are the primary things we want to celebrate.”

John England, a member of the board, closed the meeting by further discussing how the project is one close to his heart.

“I thought it should be said that what the University is doing with Foster is important to the community at large,” England said.

In addition, England addressed earlier concerns that the new Foster Auditorium would not reflect the University as a whole. However, England commended UA President Robert Witt and administrators with including the whole University in shaping the new auditorium.

“It will be an ongoing process,” England said. “As we move forward, I’m sure there will be a great deal of interest in what we do.”

David Jones, executive director of housing and residential communities, said in a written statement that he is excited about what Foster will be like in the near future and praised the University’s efforts to renovate the auditorium.

Jones said the new renovations will not only provide benefits for two women’s athletics that will play their games in the building upon completion, but it also marks an opportunity to mark the important moments in the University’s history.

“The dialogue surrounding the plaza has yielded a beautiful area that will complement the renovation of Foster Auditorium and provide much needed reflection and gathering space on this part of campus,” Jones said.

Samory Pruitt, UA vice president of community affairs, said both Malone and Hood’s families, whom Pruitt said he is very close to, have been involved throughout the process of the project and that they couldn’t be happier with the way things are going for Foster.

“People who risked their lives for civil liberty aren’t looking for any recognition,” Pruitt said. “They all love the University and trust that were going to do the right thing.”

Foster Auditorium is slated for completion sometime in October.

Additional resolutions

Another resolution passed at Thursday’s board meeting included the demolition of several apartment complexes located behind Friedman Hall. These complexes include Cannon House, Miller’s Apartment East and Crimson Towers Apartments, all located on the corner of Ninth Street and Fourth Avenue, as well as Presidential Apartments, located behind Friedman Hall.

During Thursday’s meeting, Trustee Paul Bryant Jr., expressed concern over the resolution, saying that tearing down these buildings would be a travesty due to their respective histories at the Capstone.

“You don’t want them to fade into obscurity,” Bryant said.

However, Finis St. John, president pro tempore of the board, said the demolition of these buildings would not be in vain.

“It was in the rules that we would have some sort of appropriate commemoration,” St. John said.

St. John said discussions have taken place indicating a possible monument to honor these buildings and that the University will honor these buildings in some form.

Debbie Lane, spokeswoman for the University, said no long-term plans are set after the demolitions in terms of future housing.

“We’ll be using it as green space,” Lane said. “As time goes by, the University will do this by the campus master plan.”

Jones said that in the five years he has been on campus, the majority of these complexes have been shoddy in terms of their overall accommodations.

“The amount of money [to renovate the buildings] doesn’t make sense,” Jones said.

In addition, Jones said that throughout the years, there was difficulty in recruiting graduate students to live in these buildings, especially in light of new apartment complexes that have sprouted up around Tuscaloosa recently.

“For the long term, as we look at housing needs, we’ll be looking to the future,” Jones said.

Jones said all residents in these complexes have been notified of these proposed demolitions and that the move out dates will come sometime in early June.

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