University selects Baltimore architectural firm to develop campus master
plan for facilities
The Program and Budget Committee, made up of officers of the University,
has selected the firm of Ayers/Saint/Gross Architects and Planners to create
a comprehensive master plan and long-range campus development plan for the
physical facilities of Emory. The $750,000 project is expected to take 14-16
months to complete. President Bill Chace has been widely credited as the
force behind the move to hire an outside firm to create such a plan, according
to Earle Whittington, senior project manager in the department of campus
planning and construction.
"We need effective and strong master planning for the entire campus--attention
to buildings, spaces between buildings, thoroughfares, pedestrian avenues,
landscaping, parking, oases of learning and conversation, `sacred' places
wherein the intellectual life of the University can be enhanced, and the
perimeter of the campus so that one knows when one has entered upon Emory
and when one has departed from it," said Chace. "Our 600 and some
acres are our precious home and to the degree that we feel comfortable `at
home,' our work and our well-being as Emory citizens will be enriched."
"Emory's been on a fast track for 15 years," said Bill Fox, vice
president for Institutional Advancement, who served on the committee that
selected the firm. "It's time to slow down and look at the campus and
how we treat our environment. We want to make Emory more community-oriented,
more pedestrian and more beautiful."
"Our master planning in the past has been fairly site specific,"
said Whittington. "What we are about to do is going to put all the
parts of Emory's physical presence together. It will be an inclusive process
and involve people at the University, Emory Village, the Druid Hills Civic
Association, Victoria Estates, DeKalb County planning and development offices
and MARTA. What we hope to obtain is a framework that will serve as a flexible
guide for decision making as we respond to continuing changes in higher
In a draft master plan and long range campus development proposal prepared
as part of the selection process, Ayers/ Saint/Gross wrote, "The new
campus plan must be a call to action for a physical plan which engages the
entire University community with its power to reflect and embody the goals,
culture and mission of Emory."
The development of the master plan by Ayers/Saint/ Gross will occur in five
distinct phases. The first is an observation phase that will include observations,
data collection and analysis of Emory's programs, place and precedents regarding
boundaries, connections and buildings which will lead to the definition
of guiding principles behind any design. The second phase is a conceptual
plan that will reflect the guiding principles and focus on issues such as
how open spaces and the buildings which define them can be organized to
meet the goals of the principles. This stage, which includes land use studies
and functional adjacency diagrams, will begin to define the locations of
buildings and open spaces to link them together. The third phase will consist
of precinct studies, detailed studies of campus areas such as the central
campus, health sciences area, Lullwater, University Apartments, northwest
Clifton and Emory Village. The fourth phase will include the comprehensive
plan that will include a plan diagram, landscape plans, transportation and
parking plan and historic preservation. The fifth and final phase will include
guidelines for the placement and design of buildings and grounds and a phased
"The firm we have retained has done wonderful work on other campuses--UVa,
George Washington, etc.--and we anticipate their guiding us to see how better
we can live here," said Chace. "They were selected in a vigorous
nation wide competition and we selected them because of their energy, imagination
and past successes. I look forward personally to working with them because
I believe that what they can bring to our attention will spellthe difference
between having a campus that truly works for Emory and one that only exists
The selection process for a firm to create a master plan began nine months
ago. "We talked to some schools who have undergone this process and
initially identified 30 firms," said Whittington. "We sent requests
for qualifications to 19 firms and received 13 replies. We then narrowed
it down to five firms, all of whom were invited to interview on campus and
make presentations." The master plan selection committee, made up of
members of the Program and Budget Committee and Trustee Ben Shapiro; Robert
Williams, vice president for business; Russ Seagren, director of campus
planning and construction; David Gojdics, assistant vice president for facilities
management; and Whittington, then selected two firms, Ayes/Saint/Gross and
Sasaki Associates, to proceed into a more in-depth pre-planning and selection
"Both firms spent three days on campus this fall and held 60 meetings
that involved 80 people, including deans, directors, trustees, county officials,
students and University Senate members," said Whittington. Final presentations
were made to the Program and Budget Committee in late October, and in early
November Ayers/Saint/Gross was awarded the commission.
Whittington said the planning process will be very open and involve input
from all segments of the campus community. "A campus model will be
created as part of the effort and, there will be a series of workshops and
processes for community input," said Whittington.
Whittington said a steering committee, chaired by Chace, will make final
decisions during the planning process. A broad-based coordinating committee
has also been established to meet regularly with the consultant group.
The firm of Ayers/Saint/ Gross, established in 1970 and based in Baltimore,
has created master plans for a number of universities including the University
of Virginia, Old Dominion University and George Washington University. They
are also involved in a project to reconfigure the 1996 Olympic Stadium to
accommodate the Atlanta Braves. The firm has 60 employees.
In their statement of qualifications, Ayers/Saint/Gross wrote, "This
notion that there is a reciprocity between the academic mission and the
physical plan is at the foundation of our design philosophy. Our belief
is that for any piece of architecture to be truly successful, it must grow
from a commitment and approach which balances the critical issues of design,
management and technology."
At Oxford College, a master planning process was initiated by the Oxford
Board of Counselors in October 1995. Robinson Fisher and Associates, a landscape
architectural firm in Athens, has created a landscape plan for the Oxford
campus that has developed into a master framework plan, according to David
Rowe, Oxford's director of development. "The plan is linked to the
feasibility study for an arts center on the Oxford campus and other facility
needs that will be identified by the Dean's Council on Long Range Planning,"
said Rowe. "We want to make sure that what we do at Oxford is consistent
with the University's overall master plan."
To that end, Dean Bill Murdy has asked Whittington to be a member of the
Oxford Master Plan Task Force. "Being involved in both campus planning
efforts provides a unique opportunity for us to share information and expertise,"
said Whittington. "A planning statement is essential, as programs expand
and space becomes more limited for each campus; we need to have a well thought
out direction for physical development which will outlive all of us."
to the December 9, 1996 contents page