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March 25, 2010 Volume 31, No. 25

Mizzou master plan will focus on core campus renovations and sustainability

Priority planning

Outgoing master planner: ‘You have a great deal of promise’

Perry Chapman’s term as MU’s master planner came to an end March 18 after presenting the 2010 Campus Master Plan at the Reynolds Alumni Center. Chapman, a principal with Sasaki Associates, an architecture and design firm in Boston, guided the campus’ landscape since 1998, when he replaced MU’s first master planner, Jack Robinson, who served from 1981 until his untimely death in 1997.

Under Chapman’s direction, the Bond Life Sciences Center, Reynolds Journalism Institute, four new residential housing complexes and Mizzou Arena took shape. “I am grateful to have been immersed in the challenges and opportunities to make still better this place that has come to mean so much to me,” Chapman told those gathered in the Columns Room. “I am grateful to be associated for 12 years with the truly remarkable campus facilities enterprise that we have here and grateful for the generous spirit and dear friendships that I have made.”

Chapman’s presentation recapped progress made since the 1982 plan and included a proposal of what the campus could resemble by 2035. Between 1982 and now, 9 million square feet of building area was added to campus, he said. More than 2 million of that square footage is in education and general buildings, he said. “The rest is in parking, significant medical, hospital and academic facility expansion, all of the new residence halls built since the ’60s, student life, recreation, athletics, and specialized research, all of which makes us the robust flagship university that exists today.”

What will the campus look like in 30 years? Chapman said MU should continue to focus on the continuous renewal of places and buildings on the central campus, with emphasis on sustainability and density. “A sustainable campus is, in my view, maintaining compact development patterns, limiting the extent to which you add transportation, disturb plant and natural lands and, at the same time, looking to create and maintain a collegial environment that reinforces the sense of community within and beyond campus.” His visions for a future central and east campus include buildings of multiple stories around pedestrian and landscape spaces.

The long-range plan calls for repairing and renovating 34 buildings in the core campus. These buildings are of historical importance that contribute to Mizzou’s  architectural and special heritage. “Giving new life to these important legacy structures is the foundation of this strategy,” Chapman said. He noted that Tate Hall, home of the English department, and Switzler Hall that houses the communication department and special degree programs, were the initial candidates and will contain state of the art classroom and office that will give the buildings another couple of generations of viability, he said.

The plan also calls connecting the campus and city. In 2006, Sasaki Associates began working with Stephens College, the city of Columbia and Mizzou to develop a strategy for revitalizing the downtown district. Recommended projects includes a hotel and conference center, a new MU performing arts center, a new museum and State Historical Society of Missouri and an extension of Elm Street to College Avenue. “Initiatives such as the district study represent the next generation of thinking about how the university is integrated within the civic fabric of Columbia,” Chapman said.

Chapman said other areas given priority for development include the East Campus that will include an arboretum and the Southeast Gateway from College Avenue to Stadium Boulevard.

Linda Eastley, also a principal at Sasaki, was chosen as MU’s next master planner. She told those gathered for the presentation that compact campuses contribute to sustainability and said she would continue with the guidelines already in place. “The most sustainable building you can have is the building you don’t have to build,” she said.

When asked how far MU has come in planning and development in comparison with other universities and what is in store for the future, Chapman said that MU is one of the best campus environments for a large public institution that he knows of, and he has worked with 85 of them. “Going forward and anticipating sustainability and maintaining the heritage of the campus is what will distinguish Mizzou among flagship campuses.”

Many campuses like Mizzou are sprawling affairs and their central cores have been swallowed up in massive development, Chapman said. “I think you have a great deal of promise.”