What is in this article?:
- A Vision for Growth
- What works best?
- Sidebar: A commitment to students and the community
Master-planning school or campus expansion into neighborhoods.
Many colleges and universities are experiencing significant campus growth in response to the demands of increasing enrollments and evolving programs that require advanced technology and resources. Student-centered facilities in particular, including expansive recreational centers, multi-use student unions and attractive new residences, are helping to drive institutions of higher education toward major construction and capital-improvement programs.
As urban colleges and universities look to expand in order to accommodate growing programs and enrollment, working with established neighborhoods surrounding the campus often becomes a critical component to development. In order to generate community good will and support, it is important to communicate early and often with neighbors, present a clear vision for growth, and optimize economical solutions for sensitive land use and facility design.
For older campuses set in dense, established neighborhoods, the demand for growth in facilities and infrastructure presents a clear challenge in terms of balancing the needs and concerns of neighbors with those of colleges and universities. Not surprisingly, neighbors on the fringes of campus boundaries often raise concerns about the impact of campus growth, citing the scale and appearance of buildings, the impact on views, building shadows, pedestrian and vehicular traffic, lighting, noise, parking and security.
Early in the master-planning process, the impact of campus expansion on neighborhoods situated around the “collar” of the campus should be considered. Colleges and universities occasionally minimize the importance of this aspect by focusing on generating master plans that meet the priorities of program growth, capital campaign strategies and local government agencies without addressing potential community concerns. Early engagement with the community to introduce the vision for growth and address the goals of the master plan through clear and straightforward communication can be vital to obtaining local buy-in and support.