campus master plan

How to Best Implement a Campus Master Plan

A campus master plan is typically prepared by a team of planners, civil engineers, and architects. During the planning process, they consult with various faculty, staff, and student organizations to account for both the current and future needs of the school community. They also take into consideration the impact of growth on the surrounding area. When complete, the school administration uses the plan to make decisions about fundraising, new construction, renovations, real estate, and land use.

If you already have a master plan, you understand it’s importance as a long-range planning tool to provide a roadmap for the physical development of a college, university, or K-12 campus. You know it helps you identify concepts for operational flexibility and manage change so the campus continues to evolve in a way that is consistent with the school’s mission and values.

However, even with a detailed master plan in hand, figuring out where to begin can often be the toughest part. As an educational leader, you may struggle with interpreting and executing the plan, especially if you’re dealing with many other demanding tasks throughout the day.

 The good news is that there are a few tried and true steps to ensure a successful implementation.

6 steps to successful campus master plan implementation

  • Engage a team of local consultants – a planner, civil engineer, architect, and land use attorney. Ideally, you have a team of key advisors to carry you from one project to the next. They help you understand local ordinances and overall site conditions, as well as how to best spend your money and communicate with the municipality, community, and internal stakeholders. 
  • Collect appropriate design data. Obtain a high-level understanding of the overall campus site conditions, stormwater, and traffic. When you’re ready to pull the trigger on your first project, you have to consider what information you have and what additional information you need. For example, the survey and utilities may be based on old design documents, so you’ll need to hire a surveyor to supplement the information before moving forward.
  • Review and update your master plan on a regular basis. A master plan is a huge investment. Don’t let it sit on the shelf and collect dust. It should reflect the changing needs of the school. Continuously revisit and update the plan – it should document what has been constructed and how that affects future projects.
  • Identify the approval process (zoning, conditional use, land development), the timeline, and a strategy for each project early on. Your team will prepare recommendations on how to best navigate approvals for each individual construction project. If you haven’t been through the land development process in a while, you might be shocked at how long it can take!
  • Be aware of potential ordinance changes. If changes are coming, you may need to file a vesting plan to protect your development rights.
  • Engage the local community. Find ways to stay engaged at all times. Making them stakeholders and advocates will only increase your success!

What to avoid during implementation

Now that you know what you should do, it’s also important to understand what to avoid.

  • Don’t try to do too much too quickly. Focus on individual projects. A phased approach will be more successful in the end.
  • Don’t feel like you’re bound to it. Keep your plan dynamic and flexible. Tweak it for new initiatives while still maintaining your mission and vision.
  • Don’t forget about fundraising. A campus master plan identifies specific construction projects including a broad scope, timeline, and cost. Use this information to set up fundraising campaigns and goals.

Let us help you

Nave Newell planners and engineers have a strong understanding of local ordinances, municipal regulations, and the land development process. We have been involved with both master plan development and implementation on many campuses throughout the Greater Philadelphia area including Haverford College, Malvern Preparatory School, and Woodlynde School. Regardless of what stage you’re at in the process, we can help guide you and your team!

Need help implementing your master plan? Contact us!

Stay up-to-date on our latest blog posts. Sign-up for our newsletter.