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Top 5 Campus Planning Trends

With several K-12 and higher education projects in the works, here are 5 campus planning trends that our land planners, civil engineers, and landscape architects are seeing in 2019:

Campus Planning Trends

Campus gateways

Schools are constantly looking to raise their stature. One way is to make a good first impression. Gateway projects range anywhere from a new landscape design at a prominent intersection or building to a complete campus transformation.

  • At Haverford College, our landscape architects are working with arboretum director to create an intimate, welcoming plaza in front of their admissions building for parents and future students.
  • For Villanova University, our team recently completed The Commons. This project is part of a $225 million transformation of parking lots into a new student community. As stated by University President the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD., “With the new Pedestrian Bridge and stone architecture of The Commons creating a beautiful new entryway to campus, you will now drive through Villanova instead of past Villanova.
Campus Planning Trend - Campus Gateways - Villanova University - The Commons (view from new pedestrian bridge)
Villanova University – The Commons (view from new pedestrian bridge)

Outdoor learning areas and social spaces

Many schools want to extend the classroom outdoors. As a result; amphitheaters, reading gardens, and living laboratories are popping up on many campuses. At the groundbreaking ceremony earlier this year for The Woodlynde School, Board Chair, Maryann O’Conor declared “this space where we are now breaking ground will soon house our new Student Commons, a vast and dynamic educational, community, and social space that will become the heart of Woodlynde School.”

Campus Planning Trend - Woodlynde School - Reading Garden (architectural rendering by BCJ)
Woodlynde School – Reading Garden (architectural rendering by BCJ)

On-campus housing

Many colleges and universities are adding on-campus housing to create a stronger sense of community. These facilities have gathering spaces, eateries, fitness centers, and more. We’re currently working with Cairn University in Bucks County to add new on-campus housing and also improve their softball, baseball, and soccer facilities.

Campus Planning Trend - Cairn University - New Residences, Athletic Fields, and Parking (site rendering by Nave Newell)
Cairn University – New Residences, Athletic Fields, and Parking (site rendering by Nave Newell)

Leading us to another campus planning trend…

Athletic and performing arts facilities

Top notch athletic and performing arts facilities play a big factor for many students when they are evaluating colleges and universities. In order to retain top talent, schools need their facilities to be some of the best. Across the street from The Commons at Villanova will also be a new Performing Arts Center, scheduled to opening Spring 2020.

Integrating stormwater management into site amenities

Stormwater management is something every campus must deal with. No matter where you’re located, it’s a major component of the land development approval process.

With proper land planning and team collaboration, stormwater management can be functional AND an amenity.

  • At The Commons at Villanova, bioswales along Lancaster Avenue, designed as seating walls, remove debris and pollution from surface water runoff, while they also create outdoor social space for students. These areas even provide a living laboratory as stormwater test sites, allowing faculty and students to further their stormwater management research.
  • At Cairn University, we are skillfully integrating stormwater best management practices (BMPs) into the athletic facilities. For example, a subsurface infiltration basin lies underneath the proposed synthetic turf soccer field.

Of course, to support all of these great facilities and amenities, you need parking. Never trendy, but always necessary. 

Check out more recent Higher Education & K-12 Campus Projects

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