Emory Report

 October 27, 1997

 Volume 50, No. 10

Master planning process moves
into precinct studies stage

Emory's master planning team has completed its conceptual phase, in which it set large-scale goals and established guiding principles, and is now moving into the precinct studies phase.

Representatives from the firm Ayers/Saint/Gross, along with Earle Whittington, senior project manager in the department of planning and construction, have been meeting exhaustively with people from all over campus in recent months to gather opinions, assess needs, listen to suggestions. What they've come up with is a sketch of broad brushstrokes that looks at possibilities for construction and development.

Now, having divided the campus into eight precincts, planners will go into each of those precincts to do the nitty-gritty work. They will talk to the people involved in major programs in each and try to balance needs with capabilities, function with form.

"The University Apartments precinct, for example, is mainly Campus Life and the programs they have there for housing. There is a medical component with the [proposed] Hope Lodge and the Mason Guest House," Whittington said. "We work with those entities around that piece of the plan to make sure our traffic flows and our placement of buildings and the functionality of that area all work."

Some construction projects are fairly understood as being part of the final plan. For example, with one of the principles from the conceptual stage being the gradual removal of private automobiles from the inner campus, a need that immediately arises is remote parking. To that end, two parking decks are slated for construction close to University Apartments and near Briarcliff Road off Clifton. Whittington said planners are looking at contracting with private business to provide amenities-a coffee shop, a dry cleaners, a day-care center-for convenient use at those decks.

But while the planners have ideas about what kinds of buildings should go where, a major objective of the precinct studies is to fine-tune the plan to fit the needs and desires of its constituents. Whittington said he is not surprised by the amount of interest and participation from the Emory community, but the consultants were.

"Adam Gross has said numerous times that the level of inclusion and involvement that Emory has generated is far greater than any other institution they have done this type of work for," Whittington said. "It continues to amaze them."

Gross spoke at a faculty town hall meeting Oct. 9 to explain the master planning process and what it has produced so far. He gave a slide presentation explaining in minute detail many of the conceptual ideas, the objectives behind them and how they will manifest themselves in the plan. Gross then fielded questions about everything from building bike lanes on and around campus to the notification of faculty when a construction project will affect them.

Whittington said his office and the consultants will continue to solicit opinions from as many people as possible. The master planning studio, located on the ground floor of the law school, holds an open house every Monday afternoon from 3 p.m. to 4:30, and Whittington said turnout has been good. He will hold the open houses through Thanksgiving.

"I've had people from the Druid Hills Civic Association, [merchants from] Emory Village, local contractors and architectural firms come by," Whittington said. "Their eyes get pretty big at seeing the effort, and they're just very interested in the development and talking about the future."

Whittington's office also maintains the master planning web site at <www.emory.edu/FMD/PLAN/>, which outlines the planning process, lists the principles established during the conceptual phase and provides other information.

With the precinct studies phase slated to run through November, Whittington said the planners hope to have a comprehensive plan ready to submit to President Bill Chace and the Board of Trustees sometime early next year. It may be 30 or 40 years before everything in the comprehensive plan gets to implementation, but individual projects should start popping up relatively soon, depending on funding availability. The proposed Performing Arts Center and an addition to the chemistry building are two efforts that may come to fruition in the near term, along with support projects like parking decks, Whittington said.

"We are identifying the capacities of the campus, and we're trying to reserve those places so future buildings are not conceived without knowledge of this effort," he said. "That is what we hope this plan will be used for-a framework for decision-making years down the road."

-Michael Terrazas

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