Emory Report

April 20, 1998

 Volume 50, No. 29

Big crowds hear bigger plans
at Master Plan open houses

In keeping with the all-inclusive attitude that has defined the entire Campus Master Plan process, the University held a series of open house meetings April 7 and 8 to lay out the plan in detail for anyone in or around Emory who wanted to hear about it.

With five separate meetings for students, the community, deans and directors, staff, and faculty, Adam Gross of the Baltimore firm Ayers/Saint/ Gross, which led the planning process, certainly had his presentation down cold by the end of the afternoon of April 8, but his expertise and manner were appreciated. Each meeting was well attended, with around 150 people at the staff gathering.

"They went really well," said Jennifer Fabrick, director of campus planning. "We've gotten quite a bit of good response-people even sent e-mails to us about the meetings."

Gross quickly laid out the history of Emory's physical plan, from the initial concepts developed by Henry Hornbostel through the period beginning in the mid-1960s when the University strayed from Hornbostel's ideas. He then explained the philosophical principles that guided the master planners, including the desire to remove daily automobile traffic from the core campus and to reforest an area that 80 years ago was literally a group of Italian villa-style buildings nestled on wooded hillsides.

After framing the plan with history and guidelines, Gross went through the project precinct by precinct to give a hint of what the next 50 years may hold. "We began to think of Emory's campus as a human body," Gross said. "Following that line of thinking, we saw the need to perform angioplasty to unclog arteries of pedestrian traffic through campus. In terms of property development, we needed to figure out how much the body could eat before becoming obese and ugly."

Gross identified three key goals in the master plan:

  • to remove as much asphalt as possible from the central campus. "We found there is more asphalt area in the core campus than there is roof," Gross said;
  • to introduce more green spaces for a more collegial, walking-campus atmosphere;
  • to gradually introduce buildings to frame open spaces rather than fill them up.

One idea is to reincorporate water into the University landscape through fountains, reflection pools and streams. Gross showed slides of the network of ridges and ravines on which Emory is built. Today buildings and streets stand atop ravines where water once flowed freely through campus; the planners hope to "daylight" that water, which still runs underground, to let people once again enjoy the sight of it.

Parking and transportation, of course, were major points of discussion. Since the master plan calls for the removal of daily traffic and almost all parking spaces from central campus, Gross outlined plans for various parking decks on Emory's periphery including one deck by University Apartments that is set to break ground next year. Fabrick said concern about transportation-both on-campus and off, in regard to ongoing discussions about bringing a MARTA light-rail line to Emory-played big parts in all the meetings.

Fabrick, who took the reins of campus planning in January, will apply the plan's principles to physical development. Senior project manager Earle Whittington, who ran the master planning studio on the ground floor of Gambrell Hall and was Emory's key liason with A/S/G before Fabrick was hired, will turn his attention to specific building projects, though he will continue to help guide the master plan to fruition.

"There's a sense of completion, certainly, as we're trying to bring the 'deliverables,' I would call them, to us in a final form," said Whittington, referring to items like the executive report of the plan, design guidelines and a computer-assisted design drawing in electronic form that Emory will continue to update as projects are built.

Fabrick said the open house meetings raised a number of questions that must be studied such as bicycle and jogging paths, campus lighting. One purpose of the meetings was to identify areas the master planners might never have considered. For example, the first question by one of the students was, "With no traffic on campus, how will pizzas get delivered to the dorms?"

In order to involve different constituencies in design, Fabrick hopes to assemble a peer review committee of various faculty and staff intimately familiar with the master plan. They would review all projects to make sure the design remains faithful to the plan's concepts.

-Michael Terrazas

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