Emory Report

January 25, 1999

 Volume 51, No. 17

Groups form to plan future development at Emory West

With the goal of turning Emory West into nothing less than a research center for the next millenium, two groups of faculty and administrators have formed to determine just how the University's new acreage will reach that goal.

"What we really want to do is see this as a wonderful opportunity for a kind of 21st century research center," said Provost Rebecca Chopp. "We want to take the time to envision not what we will be able to do in the next five or 10 years, but really who we want to be into the next century. President Chace and I very much agree this will not become an 'attic,' where we put leftover programs we don't need or want on this campus, but a first-class location for Emory programs."

First, an Emory West "working group" will come up with a mini-master plan for the property, much like what was done for the main Campus Master Plan. In fact, architect Adam Gross of the Baltimore firm Ayers/Saint/ Gross, who was Emory's chief consultant for the master plan, will be lending his expertise to aid the working group's efforts. All of the buildings on the former Georgia Mental Health Institute property, with the exception of Candler Mansion, will be razed to make way for new construction.

Second, Chopp will chair the Emory West steering committee, which will conduct a broad canvas of campus opinion to determine the criteria for selecting which research programs will be housed at the remote location. The only program that is sure to be sited at Emory West is the joint biotechnology center being developed in conjunction with Georgia Tech; indeed, this was a provision of the sale of the property to Emory from the state. But other than the biotech center, nothing is written in stone.

To accomplish that, Chopp said she will rely on the University's existing groups such as Faculty Council, the University Priorities Committee, the Council of Deans and the President's Cabinet. The steering committee will also host open forums for faculty, staff and students to voice their opinions, much like what was done for the Campus Master Plan. The working group will operate in the same manner.

"The underlying goal for both physical plans is to develop the property in a way that is best for both Emory and the surrounding community," Gross said. "The new development should grow out of the strengths of each while respecting the capacity of the land."

According to Charlotte Johnson, senior vice provost for administration and co-chair of the working group, some basic principles have already been established for the Emory West master plan. For example, to keep the development visually proper alongside its residential neighbors, the height of buildings will be limited. Also, a network of tunnels that was used to maintain the GMHI buildings will be preserved and used for maintenance and utility infrastructure.

"The working group, I think, has two purposes: first, to support Adam during this process as he's sizing up the campus, and [also] making sure he has connected with the people he needs to talk to and gets the information he needs to do a global plan," Johnson said. "Then the emphasis may change. Then I see the working group acting almost as a staff support to the steering committee, as Rebecca goes through the process of investigating, listening, discovering what the possibilities are for Emory West beyond biotech."

Chopp said the working group is due to have the mini-master plan completed by May, and the steering committee hopes to have a set of criteria in place by September. Until then, she added, as much activity as possible will be shut down at Emory West. Building A will remain partially open to support the University psychiatry faculty who have been housed there since before GMHI closed, and the parking office continues to use the property as a remote parking lot.

According to parking Director Bill Collier, nearly 300 students have been assigned to park at Emory West, and a handful of staff have voluntarily chosen the lot as a cost-free alternative to on-campus parking. However the use of Emory West as a remote parking lot is only a temporary measure until the new University Apartments deck is completed in the fall of 2000.

"I would very much welcome input from people who have ideas about criteria or themes, real possibilities about how to use this land," Chopp said, "with the caveat, again, that this isn't about overflow from the main campus--this is really about new opportunities for supporting our research, and research in the city of Atlanta."

--Michael Terrazas

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