Today marked the 2nd in a series of 4 forums designed to, well, design the University at Buffalo’s campus for the year 2020. Today’s forum, Campus Concepts, focused on getting each major group affected by the university – students, faculty, staff, community – up to speed on the various concepts envisioned by the planning professionals, to offer ideas, and to obtain feedback. About 700 attended workshops throughout the day.
A capstone session summarizing the day’s activities took place in the evening. Some quick notes follow.
- Students and faculty were polled for ideas throughout the year. About 80 campus conversations have taken place so far.
- The University is considering the shuffling of schools from one campus to another. In the most extreme shuffling, the downtown campus would grow from its current 400,000 square feet to over ten times that size and incorporate every school that had anything to do with medicine (and if the law students have their way, the Law School as well). At the other, lesser extreme, the School of Pharmacy would move from the North to the Main Street campus.
- Traffic and parking are major considerations. The current parking footprint on the North campus is 87 acres, and would need to grow to over 108 should nothing change to reduce dependency on single-occupant vehicles. 93% of the students, staff and faculty operate single-occupancy vehicles on campus. Alternative transportation and ways to reduce the number of trips per person are hot topics for further discussion.
- The campuses should grow by “densifying”, not by sprawl. In particular, the North Campus vision is to create a dense spine, with wind-breaking foliage and bright spaces conducive to student congregation (which is so, so different from the design of the North Campus, greatly inspired by and meant to prevent a recurrence of the campus riots of the late ‘60s).
- Dramatically improve the North Campus lake, making it something more than just a drainage pond.
- Create an urban, not a suburban, feel to the Downtown campus.
The next forum is November 19th, when a draft design plan will be presented to the public for the first time. Some people and groups are bound to be pleased, while others will anguish that their ideas weren’t considered the correct ones.
Is that also when the litigation will begin?