UK to demolish Kirwan, Blanding towers, may add new dorm


Blanding and Kirwan residence halls, along with Smith, Ingles and Baldwin, could be without air conditioning after spring break.

Sydney Momeyer

The University of Kentucky is set to move into their next steps to demolish the Kirwan-Blanding Complex on south campus, a complex that has been unoccupied for years. 

Talks of demolishing the two twin 23-story buildings and low-rise residence halls began in 2017. On Friday, UK announced they would be moving forward with a demolition process that is set to begin in early 2020.

However, the loan plan is still waiting on the UK Board of Trustee’s approval. $10 million would be an internal loan to Auxiliary Services and $5 million would be from private funding, a UK Public Relations press release said. 

Demolition of the complex could not begin until the completion of an $8.5 million project to “reroute underground utilities that serve that area and much of the southern swath of campus.” 

According to UK Vice President for Finance and Administration Eric Monday, they will not be imploding the buildings. Instead, they are going to put out Request for Proposals to find the best way to take the buildings down.

Monday said one potential way the buildings could come down is through a robotic process that would take the 23-story towers down floor by floor. However, Monday made clear their main goal is to avoid implosion, no matter the process they choose.

In its place is going to be a new “green space,” that is going to be several acres and larger than a soccer field, Vice President for Facilities Management Mary Vosevich said.

In this space, they intend to preserve the trees in the areas surrounding the Kirwan-Blanding complex, while requesting an internal loan of $5 million to create the green space.

“Additional greenspace further enhances and builds a sense of community– a community where everyone belongs and is accepted,” Monday told UK Public Relatoins. 

Along with creating a green space, UK is discussing a potential plan to add a new residence hall to the area.

“UK has begun negotiations with its housing partner to construct a new residence hall that would contain more than 500 beds and house a combination of first-year and returning students,” a press release said.

If that project were to be approved, the goal would be to open that residence hall by fall of 2022.

Monday said the idea to add another residence hall to campus comes with a large demand, both from lower and upperclassmen, to live on campus. Within the last few years, UK has added 6,850 new bed spaces to their campus. 

At the beginning of this year, UK experienced a campus-wide shortage of dorm rooms for their students. 

The demolition should take around 12 to 15 months and cost $15 million.

“The proposed transformation of the Kirwan-Blanding site is a win for everyone,” Monday said. “It’s a win for our students, as we continue to put their success first by constructing living and learning space that supports their academic, emotional and physical health, and gives them a sense of belonging.”