It can, say campus planners, who have re-imagined what UGA would be like if the essential tenets of North Campusclassic architecture and green quadranglescould be applied throughout the University's 600 acres. Introducing the new Physical Master Plan!
B Y - K E N T - H A N N O N
n 1902, Chancellor Walter Hill took a train load of faculty to Madison, Wis., to get a look at the University of Wisconsin's new ag school. From that trip came the University of Georgia's first master plan. To oversee the project, Hill hired New York landscape architect Charles Leavitt, whose vision for the first half of the 20th century was unveiled in 1905 at a ceremony in the Chapel.
Adam Gross was mindful of that legacy when he retraced Chancellor Hill's steps to the stage at the Chapel late last fall to unveil a Physical Master Plan that will determine UGA's architectural direction for the first third of the 21st century.
"This whole process is about imagining the future," said Gross, whose Baltimore-based firm has enough clout to have advised the University of Virginia on how it can recapture the beauty Thomas Jefferson infused in the original Charlottesville campus.
Mandated by the State Board of Regents for all 34 colleges and universities in the Georgia system, a new Physical Master Plan is an exhaustive project. It involved the firm of Ayers/Saint/Gross and a number of UGA constituencies, including President Michael F. Adams and his senior administrators, director Danny Sniff and the campus architects office, dean Jack Crowley and the environmental design school, UGA's landscape architect Dexter Adams, plus conversations with hundreds of faculty and students.
Campus architect Danny Sniff spent two years working on the new master plan.
"There is a pervasive love for this place, more so than anywhere we've worked, including UVA and UNC-Chapel Hill," says Gross. "And Broad Street frames one of the greatest college towns in America, along with Franklin Street in Chapel Hill and Nassau Street at Princeton."
Gross also believes UGA does the best job of any university in maintaining its grounds and open spaces.
"When UVA president John Casteen visited here a couple of years ago, he went home and said to his people: 'Why is the University of Georgia so beautiful in comparison to us?'"
But are all 600 contiguous acres as beautiful as North Campus? No, they're not. Is Sanford canyon a potentially dangerous strip of roadway with pedestrians, bikers, and buses all vying for the same piece of asphalt? It is. And does our architectural identity begin to disappear as you move to South and East Campus? Master planners say it does.
The good news, as you'll see on the "10 things to like" overleaf and foldout that follow, is that campus planners have come up with some ingenious and yet very do-able solutions to these problems.
"Most of what you see in this plan was imagined by people who walk this campus every day," says President Adams. "But Ayers/Saint/Gross did an outstanding job of taking thousands of suggestions from faculty, staff, students, and the community and pulling it all together into a single, cohesive plan."
Nothing in the Physical Master Plan is carved in stone. "These are things that might happenand, in many cases, that should happen," says Danny Sniff, "if the University of Georgia is to grow and prosper in the 21st century.
See this page for a sketch of how campus might look if the University were to make all the changes proposed in the Physical Master Plan.
Novel idea for opening up campus: Move (and raise!) Lumpkin Street
Landscape architect Dexter Adams has observed that the UGA campus "is shaped like a sausage that's been extruded over the years." Long and narrow are unfavorable attributes when 30,000 students, 9,000 faculty-staff, and a bus system that's nearly as busy as MARTA have to co-exist in a two-block-wide area between Lumpkin and Jackson streets. Environmental design dean Jack Crowley took a look at the problem and came up with a novel idea: bend Lumpkin Street to the west so that it aligns with Pulaski Street at the western edge of downtown (to see how re-routing Lumpkin Street would change the configuration of campus, visit this page). Campus planners envision that Lumpkin would not only be re-routed, but would rise 16 feet off the ground at the base of Baxter Street hill. With archways built under the roadway, students in the Baxter Street dorms could stroll under Lumpkin and never have to worry about traffic.
When they're designed correctly, buildings frame and define green space, thereby creating "outdoor rooms." Example A: North Campus.
"All alternatives will have to evaluated," says President Michael F. Adams, "and we are committed to careful coordination with local and state officials over these proposals."
To create a walking campus, we actually need to build more buildings. (We're not kidding!)
When campus planners got together to imagine how they want the University to look and feel in the 21st century, they used North Campus for inspiration. "We want to create more green spaces with water features, beautiful nooks and crannies, and inviting places to sit and talkall of which you find on North Campus," says Adam Gross. What some people don't realize, he says, is that buildings actually play a key role in creatingand defininggreen space. "The reason North Campus is so appealing," says Gross, "is that those great old buildings help create outdoor rooms."
UGA architect Danny Sniff defines outdoor rooms "as an intentional by-product of buildings constructed in parallelwhich defines a line of sightcoupled with a building or buildings set perpendicular to that line of sightwhich creates a quad or green space." Bottom line: to achieve the desired effecta treat for the sensesgreen spaces must be framed. New buildings do the job nicely, and that's fortunate given UGA's future growth needs (see No. 7).
Goodbye "train-wreck" architecture, hello Georgian. Optimal building height: 4 stories
The $43 million Student Learning Center (letter A above) will be the most expensive educational project in the state's history. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2000.
"North Campus was originally envisioned as a small, residential, liberal arts college, with classic influences that had been around since the time of the Greeks," says Adam Gross, who learned a great deal about UGA's architectural history from a master's thesis written by Tom Bowen (BBA '71, MEd '81, EdD '90), who is now assistant vice president for academic affairs. "But that all changed in the 1950s, when architects thought buildings should be more object-like, should sit in space, and should be defined in relationship to each other rather than to outdoor space."
As UGA developed its research and agricultural missions in the 1960s, campus spread to the south and the science complex (physics, geography, chemistry) took on what Gross terms "train-wreck organization" because the buildings are too close together and set at odd angles from each other. "That's a thing of the past," says Gross.
To replicate the ambiance of North Campus, banish cars, replace lots with decks, green spaces
Overcoming the "curse of asphalt" is the primary motivating factor for any campus planner.
"Overcoming the 'curse of asphalt' [see bookstore and Tate Center lots at right] is the primary motivating factor for any campus planner," says Danny Sniff, who points out that 600 acres is more than enough to accommodate the University's future design and growth needs once the decision is made to take up some of UGA's asphalt lots and replace them with new parking decks on the perimeter of campus.
Case in point: Herty Field (see photos at No. 10 below). "Given the financial and aesthetic value of campus land," says President Adams, "try to imagine the per-car cost of parking 139 cars in the Herty lot behind the Chapel. It makes no sense when you can park those cars in the new North Campus parking deck on Jackson Street [one of eight parking decks that should be in place by 2002, according to the master plan] and return Herty Field to the way it was when the Bulldogs played football there in the early 1900s." Framed by Moore College, Candler Hall, the law library, and New College, the proposed Herty quad will have aesthetics similar to what you see of North Campus when you look through the Arch.
New school of odometrics: It's not the length of the walk that matters
UGA's campus map reveals some surprising odometer readings: n Distance from the Arch to the Main Library: 1,200 ft. n Distance from the center of North Campus to perimeter bus stops on the new, rerouted Lumpkin Street or existing Jackson Street: 800 ft.
That's significant, says UGA landscape architect Dexter Adams, who believes "it's not the length of the walk that matters
The new Physical Master Plan calls for lots of new trees to be planted on South and East Campus, which will improve the quality of campus walks. The plan also proposes that UGA's bus system be reconfigured so that most routes are pushed to the edge of campus. Getting rid of diesel exhaust will make walking much more pleasant. If some on-campus routes need to be maintained, they could be handled by shuttle buses or electric vehicles.
Idea that's long overdue: Connect what appears to be "two separate universities"
When master planners asked students for their impressions of campus, one of them said, "It's almost like two separate universities"referring to the difference in topography, tree cover, and architectural design between North Campus and South Campus.
To fix that problem, planners want to connect North and South Campus via a pedestrian bridge across Sanford canyon. As is, the up and down nature of the walk from, say, the Main Library to the science complex, or vice versa, can be exhausting. The project would begin with the construction of two beautiful Georgian-influenced buildings in the space where the bookstore lot is now: a Student Learning Center (plans for it are already underway) and another building that might house a variety of student serviceswith space for a parking garage underneath.
"Incorporated into the buildings' design," says Adam Gross, "would be a colonnadeperhaps 25 feet widethat would allow walkers to traverse Sanford Canyon without having to drop down to street level."
Re-imagining the campus is essential to handling 32,500 students by 2002
|Growth required to meet enrollment goals|
|Number of students||30,000||32,500||35,000*|
|University buildings (in million gross square feet)||10.9||15.8||20.5*|
|Campus housing (beds)||5,959||8,000||11,980*|
|Campus parking (spaces)||15,500||17,000||18,700*|
|* Hypothetical figures should further enrollment growth occur|
What's nice about the proposed Physical Master Plan is that its recommendations go way beyond these numbers. If everything in the plan were enacted, UGA's footprint would grow to more than 20 million gross square feet. It could all happen without acquiring any more landand, in fact, says Danny Sniff, our 600 contiguous acres would be much better utilized and more beautiful for having gone through this extensive planning and growth process.
East Campus will become a beautiful village, not just an athletics-arts huband raceway
East Campus (see drawing at left) has received a lot of well-deserved fanfare, owing to the quality of its athletic and arts offerings. But master planners are also aware that until further development (e.g., new School of Art complex, expansion of Georgia Museum of Art) takes place on East Campus, the two anchor stores in this educational mallthe Ramsey Center [letter A at left] and the Performing and Visual Arts Complex [letter B]will be islands in a sea of asphalt.
"The raceway that loops around the Ramsey Center is part of the problem," says Adam Gross. "On Broad Street, people drive slowly because there are beautiful and interesting things to look atmonuments, trees, people out walking. Whereas, East Campus was designed for the automobile first. Now it's time to focus on the pedestrian."
That will be remedied in a big way if the master plan for East Campus is implemented.
"Imagine how big a stick you'd need to keep students away," says Gross, "if you built a residence hall right across the quadrangle from the Ramsey Centerwith a dining facility right there and the residence hall constructed around two sides of the existing East Campus parking deck [letter C]." Answer: you'd need a very big stick.
21st century students will feel what UGA had in the 19th century: a sense of community
President Adams would like to add enough housing for all freshmen and sophomore to be able to live on campuswhich would amount to roughly 35 percent of the student body.
"Right now, only 18 percent of the student body lives on campus," says President Adams. "I would like to see us evolve to a situation where all freshmen and sophomores could be housed on campuswhich would amount to roughly 35 percent of the student body. The more students that live on campus, the more they're tapped into the pulse of campus life. Studies show that students who live on campus make better grades. They also have less reliance on cars."
Another idea for enhancing the feeling of community is to connect one end of campus to the otherfrom the Arch to the proposed Alumni Center at Lake Herrickthrough a system of open spacess, water features, and pedestrian malls. Adam Gross takes us on a hypothetical tour:
"Imagine being able to move from a softball game at the intramural fields or an event at the Alumni Center across a new College Station bridge and through the new East Campus quads," he says. "I envision a water feature as you approach the Performing and Visual Arts Complexwhich we'd like to tie in with an existing fountain over at the ecology building. The master plan calls for D.W. Brooks Drive to become a pedestrian mall up to Conner Hall. A pedestrian bridge would take you from the science complex area to the colonnade on the Student Learning Center. Before you know it, you're on North Campus!"
Best news about the 30-year master plan: We can see results almost immediately!
The first question Adam Gross fielded after he finished his initial master plan presentation in the Chapel was "When do you plan to get this thing accomplished?"
"It will take 20-30 years to do the whole thing," says Gross, "but some of it can happen right away."
For example, Jackson Street is already being revamped from Broad Street to Baldwin with new sidewalks and bike lanes. Herty Field can go green again (see before-and-after photo/art at left) when the new North Campus parking deck opens in April. Transforming D.W. Brooks Drive (see No. 9) is an easy project, and a makeover for Reed Alleythat non-descript area between Reed Hall and the north side of Sanford Stadiumis already on the drawing board.
"Think of the plaza at Turner Field," says Gross. "We want to take down the chain link fence and make Reed Alley a great new space to congregate and socialize before football games."