Archived Story

Students present county campus plans to board

Published 6:44pm Friday, May 6, 2011

ST. JOSEPH — A full Berrien County Campus could be more than 50 years out, but preliminary plans were presented to county commissioners Thursday.
Martin Smith, professor of architecture at Andrews University, presented two preliminary layouts of the site at the county board meeting.
Smith and architecture students at Andrews University are putting together a master plan for the proposed 48-acre county campus in Benton Township pro bono. The county will pay the university $3,600 to offset costs of the internship program but will not pay a professional fee to the students or the university.
Smith said county complexes are a “relatively new idea in American county tradition.”
“So there’s not a lot of history to draw on,” he said.
The first plan Smith presented featured adding a street that would divide the site into a front section for public function buildings and a back section for in-house private function buildings. In the middle would be a civil square with the administration building and courthouse.
The second plan features a more “formal” arrangement of buildings with an entrance at the front of the site. The concept of keeping public function buildings at the front of the site and in-house buildings toward the back remains the same.
Smith envisions the campus being built in four phases. The first phase is to construct the animal control facility, which would be in the back end of the site adjacent to Euclid Avenue. That phase could take place within the next few years.
Phase two, which Smith said could take place over the next five years, would include constructing the health department and physical power plant facilities. Phase three, potentially 15 years down the road, would see the addition of the jail and juvenile center.
The final phase could be 30 to 50 years down the line and might see the construction of the civic square, administration building and courthouse.
Smith added that with both the plans there is room for growth and an open area for a potential nature preserve. The Andrews University Architecture Department would also like to see buildings that are both permanent and energy-efficient, Smith said.
The county board approved the purchase of the property for $759,000 last August by a 9-2 vote — a decision that was heavily opposed by some south county residents and leaders.

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