January 26, 2004

Campus Master Plan to get makeover in '04

By Michael Terrazas

Nearly six years ago Emory unveiled its ambitious Campus Master Plan (CMP), which sketched out a physical future for the University that held to a set of philosophical principles while restoring a distinctive architectural identity for Emory's capital growth.

This year an effort is under way to revisit the CMP, determine what University planners and architects have learned since it was released in 1998, and produce a new, updated plan. Several steering committees have been formed to direct the effort, and a Campus Planning team from Facilities Management (FM) is handling much of the hands-on work.

"In the last five years, there have been significant changes in program needs and in physical limitations," said Jennifer Fabrick, director of Campus Planning. Fabrick is on the FM team, along with Senior Project Manager David Kalin and other FM staff.

Another significant change is the state of Emory's financial wherewithal to turn the plan into reality. The first CMP was completed at the tail end of the flush 1990s, when Emory experienced several years of double-digit budget growth. Those days are long gone, and this time around the planners are forced to take into consideration more modest fiscal realities.

"This is an opportune time [to revisit the plan] in light of three factors," said Mike Mandl, executive vice president for finance and administration. "First, new leadership; second, the physical and transportation changes that have occurred over the last five years; and third, the strategic planning and comprehensive campaign that also will be undertaken in the near term."

Fabrick said the new plan--dubbed "CPU4" by the FM team--will hold to the 1998 CMP's guiding principles (which can be reviewed at www.fm.emory.edu/PLAN/, though one or two may be added. Some groups felt left out of the original process, Fabrick said. For example, other than announcing the goal of transforming Emory into a walking campus, environmentally sustainable concepts were largely absent from the original CMP. The Woodruff Health Sciences Center also was not involved as intimately as it should have been, Fabrick said. Neither of those omissions will be repeated this time.

"Environmental awareness at Emory has exploded since the master plan was unveiled in 1998," said John Wegner, campus environmental officer. "I think the plan update will reflect that awareness, and the environment will play a larger role."

November is the target date for finalizing the new plan--which, just like the '98 plan, will be presented in a report format with artists' renderings of what Emory might look like in the future--and this spring the working teams will hold open meetings on campus to present their progress and get feedback from the Emory community.

Another change from the first CMP is that, this time, Emory architects and capital project managers are taking the lead. The Baltimore architectural firm of Ayers/Saint/Gross, which led the original effort, is involved in a consulting role. Partner Adam Gross will lend the expertise he gained from directing the first plan.

Right now the FM team is in a data-gathering phase; a visit to the "CPU4 War Room" in the FM headquarters reveals walls covered with notes from the team's meetings with various campus constituencies. The goal is to produce a more flexible plan--a "high-performance" master plan, as Kalin called it--that fits in with the other facets of the University's current planning activities.

"The master plan update will be a complementary component to our overall strategic planning efforts; there will be a clear interplay between the master plan update, the strategic plan and the comprehensive campaign," Mandl said. "Most importantly, the process will help us better understand transportation capacity, particularly along the Clifton Corridor, and campus/health care accessibility issues."