University Master Plan On Track for Fall Completion
By Sean Smith
Work on Boston College's new master plan continued this month, as planning leaders completed a series of presentations to representatives of the University community, and launched a Web site offering information and updates on the project.
BC is about midway through its initiative to produce a comprehensive plan for campus construction, renovation and land use for at least the next decade. The University has hired architectural and design firm Sasaki Associates, and has formed 11 advisory committees to assist in the process.
The past several weeks have seen a major campus outreach effort, as the master plan top administrators held charrettes - briefing and discussion sessions - with groups of faculty, staff, students and Jesuits. During these meetings, the planning leaders presented an overview of prospective campus projects, and each group had opportunities to give comments and suggestions.
"These were very valuable and important events," said Associate Dean for Student Development Carole Hughes, coordinator for the master plan project. "Up to that point, the master plan was a rather nebulous topic for many people. But the charrettes were a good hands-on activity, and really helped spark some dialogue."
Some common threads in the sessions, said Hughes, centered on the layout and appearance of Lower Campus. "People identified the qualities they appreciate most in Middle Campus - the balance of buildings and open space, the consistency of the architecture - and would like to see on Lower Campus."
Discussions also focused on how, given the physical features and topography of the campus, the master plan could foster more faculty-student interaction, Hughes said.
Director of Capital Planning and Engineering Mary Nardone, who also is directing the master plan project, noted that while many charrette participants acknowledged the challenges presented by the large footprints of the new campus center and recreation facility that have been proposed for Lower Campus, "there is universal agreement that those buildings are definitely needed."
Hughes said the success of the charrettes was due in no small part to the diversity of academic and non-academic professionals. "We wanted to have a wide-ranging perspective, and that's what happened. When there was discussion about the need for a particular building, there were people with special expertise who pointed out the importance of including loading docks or how the parking around the building might be configured.
"Those are the kind of critical details you simply can't ignore, no matter how far-reaching the ideas."
Sasaki Associates Principal Dan Kenney said, "We found the charrette process rewarding and useful, partially because of the breadth of representation from the BC community-over 330 students, faculty, staff, and members of the Jesuit Community. The level of engagement and enthusiasm that people had for discussing ideas, and the useful input offered for refining the alternatives was inspiring. We look forward to continued involvement in future months."
In the coming months, the master plan project leaders and advisory committees will assess the analysis and responses from the charrettes and refine the proposals. The current alternatives will be presented to the Board of Trustees at their meeting next month.