Otago to invest $650m in university expansion plan

University of Otago

The University of Otago has approved a building development plan that will cost $650 million over the next 15 years.

The plan, approved by the university council, comprises:

  • A new dental school: Otago is the only tertiary training facility for dentists in New Zealand
  • Redevelopment of the multi-storeyed Science 1 and II buildings on the west side of the Dunedin campus, including the construction of new teaching and research laboratories
  • A major upgrade of research project facilities mainly for Health Sciences in Dunedin
  • The construction of teaching, learning and research space at the Portobello aquarium as a medium term replacement for space lost due to the closure of an earthquake-prone building at that facility
  • A new Arts Building, replacing the older multi-storey concrete building in Albany St. The Property Services building in Albany St will be replaced to free the site for the Humanities Precinct
  • A new Biomedical Research building, concentrating research in a single development in the south campus area where the medical school is located 
  • A new Marine Science teaching facility and aquarium, preferably in the harbour basin area
  • A new Music facility, including a new Centre of Performing Arts, in the east precinct near the existing music studio in Albany St east
  • New facilities and additional space for the Department of Botany
  • A new research facility in the Christchurch Health Precinct for the University of Otago Christchurch
  • The redevelopment of the former Unipol building in Anzac Ave
  • A new student and academic services hub to be built in the area of the Union Lawn, in the heart of the Dunedin campus
  • New landscaping projects including Castle St, from Dundas St to St David St, the Castle Walk on the west side of the Leith opposite the Clocktower and Union St from the Staff Club to University College and renovation of the Union St footbridge and the immediate area to the north of the Clocktower building.

The plan also includes reference to a number of major maintenance projects, such as refurbishment of buildings in the historic precinct, including the Clocktower.

Chief operating officer John Patrick says the estimated cost of the projects is $649.9 million. This figure includes projects that have already been approved or are under construction, such as the redevelopment of St David II for the Department of Applied Science, new space for Food Science in the Gregory Building and the university’s share of the costs of the enhancement of the Clocktower precinct as part of the Leith Flood Protection Scheme.

He says the plan has been prepared so that it can be funded without resorting to large-scale borrowing.

“The university does not use debt to fund capital projects, but looking ahead, may want to do this,” he says. “Funding decisions will be made as we progress planning for these projects,” he says.

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