August 14, 2009
UNC Asheville is evaluating a number of alternative sites to host the planned Craft Campus after extensive evaluation of the former Buncombe County landfill site has revealed significant challenges.
Other sites that will be studied are on University property and located in closer proximity to central campus allowing for better integration of the Craft Campus to the lives of students, staff and faculty. University officials are developing a final list of possible sites to be evaluated in the next few months.
Chancellor Anne Ponder said of the decision, "UNC Asheville remains fully committed to building a sustainable, environmentally responsible craft studio and education facility that allows our faculty, students and community to engage in craft practice and research at the highest level. We very much appreciate the support of Buncombe County throughout this exploratory process and look forward to working with the county on future initiatives."
As University officials worked with Buncombe County staff on construction planning, financial projections and site boundaries on the landfill site, it became apparent that the site was not a viable location. While initial plans called for using free methane gas as an alternative energy source for the campus, the cost projections of extracting and piping the methane, along with maintaining the infrastructure necessary, proved that plan economically unrealistic, according Brent Skidmore, director of the Craft Campus.
"The design process for the Craft Campus, by definition, is one of discovery and problem solving," Skidmore said. "We started with a very unusual, potentially transformative and high-level concept for our craft studios and infrastructure. As we continued work in December 2008 with our architect and engineers on a more detailed design and further site analysis, engineering studies and cost projections showed us that the landfill site was not feasible for the Craft Campus initiative."
Buncombe County Manager Wanda Greene, who worked with the University on planning for use of the landfill site, said, "This innovative project is just the sort of cooperative venture that both the county and the university want to see continue. It’s unfortunate that as we worked together on the financial and logistical details, we discovered that the original concept to use the landfill was not feasible. We commend the University for its willingness to work with us, and we look forward to the future contributions the Craft Campus will make to our community."
Chancellor Ponder said planning for the Craft Campus will continue. "Our vision remains unchanged: we want to create the leading undergraduate crafts studies program in the nation and to help re-center the American studio craft movement in Asheville."
She said the Craft Campus, wherever it is finally sited, "will make use of every appropriate green and clean technology, so that the outcome is a sustainable campus and environmentally responsible facility that will serve as a model of craft education and practice in the true liberal arts tradition."
The UNC Asheville Board of Trustees was briefed on this decision in June. The new Board leadership will be involved in future plans and decisions concerning the project on behalf of the University.