Discussions with the Task Force included investigating the role of public art in the Master Plan, an on-site review of the proposed Commencement Walk, updated cost estimates and potential phasing plans, and master planning guidelines. The value of public art was affirmed, especially as integrated with buildings and open spaces to strengthen the experience of the campus and promote discussion and discovery.
The Master Plan refinements were once again presented at a Campus Forum and a Community Meeting. The Campus Forum focused on the placement of new academic buildings, the configuration of new student housing, and the positive addition of art in the landscape. The Community Meeting focused on the organizing framework of axes, street improvements, parking, and signage opportunities with neighboring retail districts.
The Planning Team presented plan refinements, initial cost assumptions, and an implementation phasing plan. The presentation included further discussion about each of the campus axes and their distinctive characters, focusing on the primary north/south axis from the Library to Athletics (the Commencement Walk). There was also a sustainability presentation made by students from the Environmental Studies Program and a determination by the committee to clarify and emphasize the master plan’s commitment to sustainable development and green building principles. Alternative siting and phasing options for a variety of housing arrangements were reconsidered, with emphasis on creating a plan that would make the campus attractive as a place for students to live and interactive with (and responsive to) the community.
The Planning Team presented an array of viable general approaches and, after considering the strengths and weaknesses of several options, focused in on a single Master Plan direction. This direction refined the “Tapestry of Learning” diagram into a plan of primary and secondary axes, a network recognizing and honoring the dual function of the college campus as both cloister for intellectual reflection and crossroads of social and community interaction—all amidst a landscape plan that reflects the distinctive character of the Pacific Northwest. The plan proposed a reduction and re-distribution of parking to enhance the pedestrian environment and arrival experience, and it sought to improve the edges with the aim of strengthening the university’s identity and its connections into the neighborhood.
The organizing idea of the campus plan became the creation of a broad, majestic central open space called the Commencement Walk, an expanse that stretched from Jones Hall to the Field House and was opened up with the removal of South Hall and the relocation of Facilities Services. This landscape expanse, reflecting the great traditions of open space that defined the great campuses—from Stanford to Harvard to Virginia to Oxford—fully unifies, in a distinctively Puget Sound way, the northern and southern precincts of the campus, and is punctuated by a series of pedestrian gathering spaces at key intersections, each with a character that marks the interweaving of academic and co-curricular activity. Visually, conceptually, experientially, this central spine defines and articulates the spirit of Puget Sound as a known and definable place.
The planning direction was introduced at both a campus forum and a community meeting. Forum discussions focused on the defining idea and the challenges of parking, alternative transportation strategies, and the nature of the new pedestrian axes. The community meeting concentrated more upon the quality of the edges, the quality and scale of buildings along the edges, and traffic-calming techniques along Union Avenue, Alder Street, and North 11th.
The Planning Team identified critical planning issues and introduced preliminary planning concepts. Key issues included expanding residential capacity to 75% in the first phase, enhancing the arrival experience, developing more and better gathering spaces, strengthening defining characteristics on campus, noting and overcoming planning obstacles, improving distribution and quantity of parking and circulation patterns, analyzing zones of use (learning, living, and playing), and more. A preliminary diagram called the “Tapestry of Learning” was introduced as a metaphor to speak to the integrated nature of a well-rounded liberal education on the Puget Sound campus, showing threads of activity and inquiry, landscape and structure, movement and gathering, woven into an intricate whole that is at once functional and beautiful.
The Planning Team also introduced potential new and relocated facility projects as a result of the needs and program analysis. These projects included possible parking structures and consolidation, playing field improvements, additions to and renovations of existing buildings (including athletic facilities), and an array of possible new structures to meet academic, co-curricular, and extra-curricular needs. In addition, a variety of housing options were studied along with several potential siting plans that would include both suite-based residence halls and town-house style apartments in various configurations.
The Planning Team and Task Force reviewed lessons learned from the tours of other institutions, reviewed the findings of the needs and program analysis, and established the Mission and Goals of the Master Plan. Special attention was given to campus approaches, entrances and edges; the sense of arrival from various approaches; and navigation once within the campus footprint. Parking and vehicular domination of much of the interior campus was identified as an obstacle to campus unity and function.
The program needs analysis was a comprehensive one. In brief, it indicated significant needs for athletics, student services, housing, meeting and storage space, and certain academic programs that have not been addressed (including psychology, the visual arts, OT and PT, exercise science, some performance spaces). The existing building assessment and site analysis also indicated a need to replace South Hall and to relocate Facilities to connect the north and south areas of campus, to clarify the organization of campus to unify it and to facilitate wayfinding, and to expand the character of the academic core to the edges of campus to achieve a more effective mixed-use, integrated environment of living and learning throughout the campus.
The Task Force and Planning Team visited four institutions in northwest Oregon to observe them from a planning perspective and to discuss planning experiences and lessons learned with members of each campus community. The tours included Lewis & Clark College, Reed College, Willamette University, and Linfield College. Consultations with planning and implementation teams at each campus illuminated distinct planning strategies, risks, strengths, and issues for each institution. They provided the Task Force and Planning Team with a common vocabulary of solutions and approaches to facilitate discussion and analysis throughout the planning process.
Of special note were the various approaches to housing taken on each campus (including a general emphasis on apartment style housing, with its attractions for independent living and its limitations on larger communal life); the value of establishing points of intersection and interaction to enhance social and intellectual activity and exchange; the dominance of parking and traffic flow as a driving issue for campus plans; the need to establish a defining, organizing idea for a successful master plan; and the potential for leveraging fundraising through an imaginative and successful master plan. The strengths of each campus plan emerged out of the assets of each particular campus circumstance and/or the remedying of a particular weakness.
The Planning Team outlined the process through which the Master Plan would be developed, which included laying out a vision, touring other colleges and universities that have recently done master plans, a needs and program analysis for the campus, idea exploration, concept development, concept refinement; and documentation of the plan. The Task Force and Planning Team proceeded by laying out a vision for the campus that would define current strengths, areas of deficiency, and visions for the future. They identified key planning issues and aspirations for the university’s physical and learning environments emerging from the President’s charge and from the traditional and forward-looking values of the University of Puget Sound and its mission. This envisioning process engaged the Task Force and several campus and neighborhood groups in discussing a set of critical Topics, including The Campus Environment, The Campus as Part of Its Urban and Natural Environment, Academic Facilities, Athletics, Campus Life & Housing, and Off-Campus Opportunities.
We agreed to identify “sacred spaces” that represent the strengths of the campus, and obstacles that hinder the most successful campus experience. The most commonly identified strengths included the intimate, human scale of the campus; a consistent architectural style in the core campus (Tudor Gothic and its derivatives); a mixture of informal and planned landscaping punctuated by stately conifers (the garden and the forest); imaginative and attractive theme housing; a central student “campus center” in Wheelock; a “mixed use” plan that integrated housing, academic, co-curricular, and administrative functions; and potential linkages with the North End and downtown Tacoma community.