Outside of the specific concerns of academic facilities and campus life spaces, the master plan identifies additional opportunities to enhance physical assets of the University's main campus. These opportunities include recommendations for specific buildings, such as Neu Chapel and the armory, and recommendations for site design of exterior campus spaces, significant corners and street intersections, and edges. These recommendations will have a profound impact on the presence, sustainability, safety, comfort, and vitality of the campus. They include the following:
Site Work Allowance: $0.5 M
Renovation ($75 - $100/SF)
Total Area = 16,400GSF
Renovation Cost Range: $1.2 M - $1.6 M
The planning team studied concepts for expansion and renovation of Neu Chapel and recommends the construction of a U-shaped driveway and terrace patio to enhance access to events and gatherings. Potential interior renovations may include a new elevator, MEP, lighting, and acoustic upgrades. Regarding significant expansion proposed by an earlier study, the planning team believes the architectural integrity of Neu Chapel may be adversely affected by such an alteration.
Performing Arts Center/Armory Redevelopment
Armory - Performing Arts Center Renovation Cost
Cost Range: 60,000 GSF - 2.5 Stories
Cost: $15.0 - $18 M
Armory - Performing Arts Center New Construction
Cost Range: 7,500 GSF (Lobby & fly loft)
Cost: $2.8 M
Armory - Relocating Existing Building Uses
Cost: $2.5 M
For colleges and universities, performing arts facilities provide an important role in recruitment and retention of quality students and faculty and provide energizing activity and connections between campus and the broader community. Successful locations for such facilities should have a strong external visibility and ease of access for patron parking and service vehicles. For these reasons, the planning team believes the existing armory provides a strong location for a performing arts center. In its existing condition, the armory is underutilized as storage and support space for both facilities and athletic teams.
The planning team believes the armory's physical attributes present strong potential for the adaptive reuse of a significant historic structure. With its added height, the main bay space could be reused as an auditorium and the side bays could be utilized as practice and rehearsal classrooms and general support space. Additions consisting of a south-facing lobby and fly loft structure on the north side may be made to the main bay space. When a performing arts center becomes a more immediate priority, a thorough analysis should confirm these assumptions and compare the cost of renovation versus new construction, as well as determine the highest and best uses of the Wheeler Concert Hall and Shanklin Theatre spaces.
Many campus stakeholders acknowledged the sense of the campus being divided between north and south halves. Bisecting the campus, Walnut Street is perceived as the dividing line. As an active public thoroughfare, Walnut presents a barrier for safe campus pedestrian circulation. In addition, as Walnut bisects the main campus's north-south pedestrian spine, a significant place-making opportunity exists. Given these circumstances, the master plan defines the creation of an urban plaza along Walnut between the Carson and Ridgway University Centers. The plaza would be designed with many traffic-calming features such as changes in lane width, bollards, pedestrian crossing zones, lighting, appropriate landscape, and textured pavement. On special occasions during the academic year, the street could be closed to serve as an outdoor programming space for festivals and campus gatherings. Storm water harvesting should be integrated into the design of the plaza. The Walnut Plaza concept has strong potential to unify the campus, assert institutional identity within the geographic center of campus, and more safely accommodate existing traffic patterns.
Key Intersections and Edges
Also observed by stakeholders, the conditions of some campus edges promote neither a welcoming first impression nor a safe experience for pedestrians and vehicles. This is particularly true along Weinbach Avenue, a corridor that creates a first impression inconsistent with the University's reputation for quality. As the campus redevelops residential life facilities along its edges, the redesign of street intersections and campus edges presents an opportunity to provide for both enhanced pedestrian safety and place-making. Key campus intersections should be reconstructed as small plazas designed to promote traffic calming and safe pedestrian crossing. Storm water harvesting should be integrated into the design of these intersections. Key intersections and campus corners include Walnut Street and Weinbach Avenue, Weinbach and Lincoln Avenues, Lincoln and Rotherwood Avenues, and Rotherwood Avenue and Walnut Street.
These four corners represent highly visible corners for the University with a high impact on enhancing external identity and creating good first impressions for campus visitors. To foster greater pedestrian safety, sidewalks along the edges of campus should be set back from the curb by an adequately sized planting strip with appropriately scaled street trees. These recommendations will require further study and coordination with both municipal authorities and local utilities.