Master Planning Team Solicits Input
Published: Friday, November 30, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 30, 2012 03:11
The university’s master planning team held “Planning 101” sessions Tuesday and Wednesday to solicit feedback for its expansion plans that extend through the year 2037.
Students, faculty and staff in attendance asked questions about challenges that the team will face in upcoming months, financial constraints that may affect the plans, the expected timeline of the project and the team’s use of technology.
The university’s master plan includes the conversion of the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center into an undergraduate dormitory by 2014, the search for about 100 more acres for Georgetown’s core graduate programs and the consolidation of the School of Continuing Studies into a single 91,000-square-foot campus at the new Georgetown Downtown in Mount Vernon Square that the university purchased this summer.
During the sessions, representatives from the university, developer Forest City Enterprises and design firm Sasaki Associates explained the fundamentals of master planning and spoke of the importance of data collection and collaboration as planning moves forward.
“We can begin pretty basically with the global question of, ‘What is planning?’ university architect Gina Bleck told the audience. “And it’s very critical that [the process] starts and ends with you. We need to include all the spokes to get to a plan that is informed and will help balance the resources that we have. We encourage you to participate because, without your participation, it won’t be a plan that can succeed.”
Ricardo Dumont, an architect at Sasaki, explained the nature of master planning to the audience.
“We need to come up with a plan that is achievable within the heavy normal fiscal constraints that every university faces today,” Dumont said. “We realize that this is not a static plan, but a global and dynamic plan that changes and morphs with universities as they change through time.”
Gregory Janks, director of Sasaki, said that the company will base planning recommendations on data gathered from an interactive Web survey called myCampus, which will use responses from students, faculty and staff to generate a demographic map of campus.
“We want to know what are the right data elements and how do we introduce them at the strategic level,” Janks said. “[In myCampus] you can tag different aspects of the campus for where different activities occur. We’re really interested in how people physically inhabit the space, and you can track movement patterns. A lot of times these maps are really a game changer.”
Deborah Salzberg, director of the Washington office of Forest City, said that the developer is also heavily reliant on data for its plans.
“We see what exists and envision what it can be,” Salzberg said. “We don’t promise more than we can deliver and we deliver what we say we will.”
Salzberg added that the planning period would last between nine and 12 months.
“After 12 months, the energy starts to wane,” she said.
Bleck cited the university’s Jesuit mission as crucial to the planning process.
“The underpinning foundation [of the plans] is the university’s mission — that we are Catholic and Jesuit, diverse, committed to excellence and that we educate the collective lifelong learners as responsible members who live for others,” Bleck said.