Campus Planning & Design at the Annual Meeting

The Illinois Institute of Technology's McCormick Tribune Campus Center image: Alexandra Hay

The Illinois Institute of Technology’s McCormick Tribune Campus Center
image: Alexandra Hay

This year’s ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Chicago is almost here and we look forward to seeing many of you there. The meeting is full of social and educational opportunities for those of us involved in campus planning and design. In addition to the events listed below, there are two additional opportunities we have created for those interested in campus planning and design:

  • Anyone (PPN member or not) is invited to an informal gathering for drinks, conversation, and networking on Saturday, November 7 starting around 6:15 PM (immediately after the Alumni Tailgate) in the M/X Lounge/POI Bar of the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place (2233 South Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive).
  • Northwestern University Campus Tour: on Tuesday, November 10 from 9:30 AM to noon, Ann Ziegelmaier, landscape architect for Northwestern University, will lead an informal tour of the main Northwestern campus for all who are interested. The Northwestern campus is about a 45 minute trip via public transit from the downtown hotels. Although reservations are not required, please RSVP if you think you may attend for additional details.

Among the Annual Meeting’s field and education sessions, on Friday, November 6, you can tour the picturesque Gothic campus of the University of Chicago. Tickets for the field session “Stewardship of a Grand Campus Legacy: the University of Chicago” must be purchased in advance. For those not interested in the all-day tour, there will be an education session at 1:30 PM on Friday: “Resiliency in University Planning: Risks and Opportunities” asks how prepared are university campuses to resist and recover—in a timely, economical, and efficient way—from disasters, climate change, and natural hazards?

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A Legacy of Collaboration: Peter L. Schaudt, FASLA

Peter Lindsay Schaudt image: courtesy of Hoerr Schaudt

Peter Lindsay Schaudt
image: courtesy of Hoerr Schaudt

This past summer, our profession lost one of its greatest champions and collaborators. Our dear friend and esteemed colleague, Peter Lindsay Schaudt, passed away unexpectedly on July 19th, 2015, at his home in Villa Park, Illinois. He was 56.

An architect by training, a recipient of the Rome Prize and a protégée of the legendary landscape architect Dan Kiley, Peter brought to landscape design a focus on research and history and a deep love of learning. An American Institute of Architects award-winner for collaborative achievement, Peter was best known for his ability to work with a broad range of architectural practices, which he often likened to a lifelong education. Throughout his career, Peter’s talent for collaboration was invaluable to the success of each project within his diverse portfolio. This was most evident in his academic and campus work.

Peter strove to create coherent, dynamic and timeless landscapes at every scale. A patient visionary, Peter emphasized the importance of maintaining a long-term relationship with campus clients, knowing that a cohesive landscape is best formed over time. Carefully cultivating and nurturing relationships throughout the country, Peter’s ability to build and maintain trust earned him the opportunity to implement multiple projects at a campus over an extended number of years.

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Town & Gown: Walkable Neighborhoods on Campus

Village center image: Cynthia Girling

Village center
image: Cynthia Girling

Due to their size and relative autonomy, universities are like small cities, and like any city, they have a significant environmental footprint. They control large and permanent areas of land and inventories of buildings and are among the top employers in many cities. As such, they are major commuter destinations. If we compare the attributes of complete, walkable neighborhoods to many university campuses, they typically fail by basic metrics. In complete communities, people can: live throughout their lives, work, access a range of services, and enjoy social, cultural, educational, and recreational pursuits. Most campuses are exceptionally job-heavy but have limited residents on or near campus. On-campus housing typically includes some student dormitories, and sometimes student family housing, but staff and faculty and many students typically have to commute to campus. In terms of providing day-to-day services that everyone, including workers and students need, again they fail. Students living on campus and daytime workers often have to travel off campus for basic services and entertainment.

Town and Gown developments, or residential communities on or adjacent to campus, can help to make the university more complete as a community by adding a greater diversity of residents, as well as services and entertainment for the whole campus population. The objectives of such developments are often threefold: 1) to raise revenue to support the university enterprise, 2) to attract permanent residents to campus and thus reduce commute trips, and 3) bring services and night life to campus, thus adding more completeness and vitality.

Wesbrook Place is one such neighborhood, located adjacent to the University of British Columbia’s main campus. Wesbrook Place was intentionally designed to be a compact, complete, and walkable neighborhood. The design is also intended to strengthen the University’s identity and to improve the overall campus vitality. The first plan was adopted in 2005 and the first residents moved in by 2008. At build-out, it is projected to house 12,000 people on a 45-hectare site, and as of 2014 it was 25% complete, with an estimated population of 3,100 residents.

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Designing for Bikes at UC Davis

UC Davis bike circle at Shields Avenue and West Quad Street image: UC Davis Strategic Communications

UC Davis bike circle at Shields Avenue and West Quad Street
image: UC Davis Strategic Communications

Traveling by bicycle is the one of the easiest ways to traverse the sprawling University of California, Davis campus. Located in the Central Valley of California, the campus is topographically flat and weather is mild—perfect for bike riding. Average annual rainfall in Davis is 18 inches, therefore it is a rare day when you cannot easily get to your destination by bike. With 900 acres in the core campus and another 4,400 acres for agricultural and other natural science research fields, this growing campus with a current student population of over 33,000 is too spread out for walking alone to provide an efficient mode of transportation for most. The campus core area is generally closed to vehicular traffic, significantly enhancing bicycle safety. There are hourly bike traffic rushes during breaks between classes. During that time delivery and facilities vehicles are required to yield the right of way to thousands of cyclists or risk a ticket from the campus police.

Pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular circulation are integral components of any design at UC Davis; however, designing bicycle infrastructure is a unique and complex exercise typically driven by the Campus Planning and Landscape Architecture (CPLA) and Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS) Units on campus.

In the summer of 2014, one acre of a five-acre vehicle parking lot was reconfigured into a 600-space bike parking lot serving a gymnasium that was converted into a large lecture hall. This project was designed by CPLA and funded by TAPS. The design involved rethinking and redesigning all modes of transportation in the area to safely and efficiently accommodate the anticipated influx of cyclists. Circulation design for bike lanes, bike paths, bike circles, and bike parking throughout campus is a major component of the CPLA Unit’s workload. Typically CPLA deals with four major bike design situations on a regular basis.

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SCUP Landscape & Planning Award Winners

The University of British Columbia's pedestrian campus, SCUP Honor Award winner for Landscape Architecture--General Design image: Dean Gregory

The University of British Columbia’s pedestrian campus, SCUP Honor Award winner for Landscape Architecture–General Design
image: Dean Gregory

Congratulations to those landscape architects, teams and campuses that are winners in the 2014 Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) Campus Awards Program in the Landscape Design and Planning categories. The goal of the program, started in 2001, is to recognize excellence in higher education and its resultant physical environment. In 2013, there was a slight uptick in the number of submissions under the planning (20) and landscape (19) categories. This year, there were 22 submissions under the planning category and only 14 submissions in the landscape category.

The 2015 Call for SCUP Excellence Award Entries will open October 1, 2014. I encourage all of you to start thinking about which landscape and planning projects you’re going to submit for the 2015 program.

In the meantime, following is a list of the 2014 SCUP award winners in the four categories of Landscape and Planning.

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Animating the Campus Landscape

Pop Rocks on Koerner Plaza, the University of British Columbia image: Dean Gregory

Pop Rocks on Koerner Plaza, the University of British Columbia
image: Dean Gregory

Earlier this year, the office where I have worked for 5 years—Campus and Community Planning—was restructured to include a new division called Campus Programs and Animation. This group of people is responsible for supporting the University of British Columbia’s strategic priority of making our Vancouver campus more vibrant. My first reaction was “Hmmm—I thought we (the landscape architects) were doing that!”

We absolutely are doing that—creating the spaces and landscapes that are essential to a vibrant campus. But we don’t do it alone. Making the campus more vibrant involves leveraging public space, campus landscape and infrastructure investments with cultural and social assets to develop strong community programs and create extraordinary campus experiences. Real success requires a concerted effort by many individuals. With the goal of creating unforgettable and extraordinary campus experiences, landscape architects do create the platform and unique opportunities for meaningful intellectual, social, and cultural experiences and interactions. The design and programming contributions of other professionals, staff and the users themselves help us fulfill this goal.

Following are a few images—and a really fun video clip—showing the fruits of those efforts here at the University of British Columbia.

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Landscape Architecture on Campus

Li Ka Shing Center at Stanford by Tom Leader Studio image: Tom Leader Studio

Li Ka Shing Center at Stanford by Tom Leader Studio
image: Tom Leader Studio

This post was originally published on Land8 with the title “The Power of Landscape Architecture on the American College Campus” on April 3, 2014.

Landscape architects—and I include future ones in this group—seem obsessed with cities these days. Urban projects are all over the place at conferences and in design magazines, and even more predominate in related social media and the blogosphere, to the point that it makes me wonder if we all really just want to be urban designers. Of course there are legitimate and good reasons for this focus, such as the fact that more work is becoming available in cities as people migrate back from the suburbs, and high profile urban projects give landscape architects greater exposure on the media map.

Even so, I do worry a little that this preoccupation with big city landscapes may limit the perspective of students and young professionals to just how vast and diverse this profession really is. Although I won’t address all the possible career paths for landscape architects here, I do want to point out a specific and important segment of landscape architecture that rarely gets much attention: the campus landscape.

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