Penn State Intercom......May 1, 2003

Master plan keeps campus
development on track

By Bill Campbell
Special to IntercomTurow_Gordon02

Gordon Turow is a man with a plan. It's the University Park Campus Master Plan, and he uses it almost daily in working with faculty, staff, and students.

"The master plan is an extraordinary tool," said Turow, director of campus planning and design. "As a blueprint for the future, the master plan is the foundation for thoughtful decision-making regarding the physical development of the campus. It strategically and sensitively integrates each new project into the context of the campus as a whole.

"The campus master plan is an 'opportunities plan,' not an implementation plan. It does not recommend growth, but rather defines opportunities for accommodating growth that could conceivably occur in the future. This includes locating new buildings, preserving and expanding green space, and maintaining the highest quality standards for architecture and landscape design. A high-quality campus environment supports a high-quality education."

The University Park Campus Master Plan was developed by JJR Inc., a nationally renowned planning and landscape architecture firm in Ann Arbor, Mich., with extensive input from the University community. Approved by the Penn State Board of Trustees in 1999, it addresses open space, pedestrian and bicycle circulation, transportation, parking, buildings and utilities. Key aspects of the plan include a pedestrian-oriented core campus, parking on the periphery, infill and not sprawl, and preservation and increase of green space.

"In accordance with the master plan, the use of mass transit is being encouraged, parking on the periphery is being provided, accommodations for bicyclists are being enhanced and a comfortable walking environment is being provided," Turow said. "In this way, we can be less dependent on automobiles, reduce congestion and enjoy a pedestrian-friendly campus.

"The master plan is a planning tool that is used by the entire University community. In a time of ever-changing technologies and a growing community, we strive to be as comprehensive as possible in addressing the needs of the future. The master plan enables us to do that."

Turow_Gordon03He said the master plan is used to site individual buildings and additions to existing buildings; in planning multi-building developments such as the East Sub-cam pus (Lot 80); and in identifying long-range plans for new facilities such as the proposed arboretum.

Turow frequently presents the master plan, and the progress made regarding its implementation, to a wide range of groups throughout the University. He also has made presentations to government agencies such as the Downtown Improvement District, the Centre Region Council of Governments (COG) and the Centre Area Transportation Authority (CATA).

He usually is armed with a 3-foot-by-5-foot color map that can be folded for carrying and is color-coded.

"When I make a presentation on a single project," he said, "I always begin with an overview of the master plan to explain how an individual project is developed with respect for the campus environment as a whole, and within the guidelines of the campus master plan. As the construction of new buildings progresses, the University's commitment to high-quality architecture and landscape design become evident. Each new building will contribute to the quality of the campus landscape. These accomplishments are anchored in the master plan."

Turow said the University is making remarkable progress toward the goals and opportunities identified in the campus master plan. He cites these examples:

* New landmark academic buildings such as the Information Science and Technology Building which integrates a pedestrian bridge over Atherton Street into its design to seamlessly unite the campus core with West Campus; the chemistry and life sciences buildings that will span Shortlidge Road; the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture building adjacent to the Palmer Museum; and those in the new East Sub-campus, including The Smeal College of Business Administration building, the School of Forest Resources building and the Department of Food Sc iences building.

* The design and construction of the Frank and Sylvia Pasquerilla Spiritual Center on Curtin Road.

* New landmark housing projects including West Campus Housing and Eastview Terrace.

* New parking facilities including the expansion of the Nittany Deck and Eisenhower Deck; construction of the Stadium West parking lot on the campus periphery; and design of the East Deck in the East Sub-campus.

* Advancement of the Intermodal Transportation Concept, which will provide parking on the periphery; improve the effectiveness and efficiency of transit; enhance accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists; and reduce vehicular congestion in core campus, all of which are important aspects of the campus master plan.

* Completion of a master plan for the Arboretum's Mitchell Tract, which borders Park Avenue.

According to Turow, the University Park Master Plan is a valuable tool for academic and administrative leaders because it assists in aligning the highest quality education for our students with the physical attributes of a high quality campus, and the community as a whole.

"We are committed to the goals of the University Park campus," he said. "Our job is to stay true to that commitment and to adhere to the opportunities and guidelines in the master plan. Our goal is produce an approved master plan for each Penn State campus."

Bill Campbell can be reached at