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University of Montana President Royce Engstrom speaks at the start of a public forum in September 2013 on where to locate Missoula College.

Faculty members at Missoula College on Thursday reviewed an architectural image of the new college proposed for East Broadway, though architects behind the design cautioned that the image was only preliminary.

While the schematics haven’t been released for public review – and likely won’t be for several weeks – the drawing suggested a four-story building with a walkout basement and a glass façade looking over the Clark Fork River.

Mark Headley, the project’s architect with StudioForma in Bozeman, has been in contact with Mayor John Engen and Development Services to review the design.

Once the schematics are approved by city planners, state engineers and the University of Montana, the images will be posted publicly as part of the planning process.

“We’re two weeks away from pulling the trigger on a cost estimate to say this design is within budget,” Headley said. “You hate to issue designs until you’re confident you’re moving ahead with it.”

While a public unveiling may still be weeks away, the process is slowly moving forward. JBR Environmental Consultants gave its draft environmental analysis to UM on Monday for review.

Headley said the analysis found no major issues that would prevent the project from moving forward. Several findings may need mitigating, he said, and UM President Royce Engstrom is still reviewing the draft.

“The analysis does make the initial phases run a little slower,” Headley said. “I’ve done six different projects with UM and Montana State University and none of them had an EA. This is the first one, and it slows down the beginning of a project. But you’ve got to get you’re ducks in a row.”

Headley detailed several components implemented in the building’s early design, including an outdoor pizza oven, a grassy commons and a full-scale culinary arts kitchen that opens to an outdoor dining area looking over the river.

The project’s equipment budget stands at around $1.5 million, and Headley said a big part of it relates to the culinary arts. Outdoor dining could be offered up to seven months of the year.

“We’ll be taking an approach you see in a lot of urban restaurants, where the kitchen is very exposed,” Headley said. “For them, this facility will greatly enhance the culinary arts program’s ability to expand its revenues. The potential for them would double or quadruple their revenue stream, and that would be incredible.”

The entire facility may also offer other revenue streams for the university. Headley said several teleconference rooms are planned, along with a lecture center with a seating capacity for 150 people, both of which could be rented out.

Headley said the Montana Wood Products Association has lobbied for more wood to be incorporated in the design. In addition, he said, a separate large-scale project is being discussed nearby – one that could further transform the city’s east side.

Headley declined to elaborate on the other project, saying only that the Missoula Redevelopment Agency was involved. The city is studying the East Broadway corridor as a potential urban renewal district.

“We’ll have a public presentation on the college design, even though the university doesn’t have to do that by law or by the requirements of the Montana Environmental Policy Act,” Headley said. “But given the interest in the project, it might be something we do in two or three weeks. We won’t go that far until we know this project is 100 percent going on East Broadway.”

Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 523-5260, or at

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