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March 17, 2011 Volume 32, No. 24

Latest master plan emphasizes sustainability, character


New study will gauge use of existing space

Since 1982, when Jack Robinson became the University of Missouri’s first master planner, the number of buildings on the MU campus has more than doubled.

Robinson, who died in May 1997, watched the university grow by nearly 4 million square feet. He saw the construction of Reynolds Alumni Center, Hulston, Clydesdale and Lee Hills halls and several parking garages. Although he never saw it completed, his vision created what’s now known as Carnahan Quadrangle, which had been a series of alleyways and random buildings with no recognizable connection to the rest of the campus.

So when Linda Eastley, MU’s newest master planner, talks about the university’s future growth, it’s in the context of how best to use the landscape and facilities that are already in place.

“There were studies to understand the infill capacity of the campus, what types of additions and new buildings you could add within the core boundaries of the campus,” Easterly said last week, when she presented MU’s 2011 Master Plan in Reynolds Alumni Center. “Now we’re saying let’s understand what the capacity is, not of the campus within those boundaries, but of the campus within each building and how well we are utilizing space. The hope is that it will result in a better campus framework.”

Key to this understanding is a “carrying capacity” study, launched in November 2010. The project has two purposes: to explore how existing facilities are being used today; and to understand what future facilities will be needed as MU’s enrollment continues to grow.

Eastley, who just completed her first year as master planner, said she will build on the work of  both Robinson and her predecessor, Perry Chapman, who replaced Robinson in 1998. Chapman emphasized sustainability and density — compact development patterns, creating and maintaining open space, and repairing and renovating core buildings, such as Switzler and Tate halls.

“Perry was particularly interested in having open space create long pedestrian connections between different parts of campus,” she said.

Eastley said she is committed to sustaining the character of the MU campus, which features student housing and academic buildings within a 10-minute “walking circle.” She said any new construction should take “cues from the building heights and masses within those districts.”

This year’s master plan presentation included discussion of MU’s first Climate Action Plan, which was released earlier this year. In the first phase of the “rolling” five-year plan, the university proposes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2015, largely through an increase in the use of biomass at the MU Power Plant. The university has vowed to reach “carbon neutrality” through a long-term strategy of improving energy efficiency of buildings, infrastructure upgrades and new technologies.

By 2013, the climate plan and campus master plan will be merged into a single document. That will ensure that MU’s commitment to sustainability is part of any future decisions about the campus’s growth.

“The master plan has been very successful for us for more than 30 years,” said Jackie Jones, vice chancellor for administrative services. “We want to take the same kind of approach for the climate action plan.”