As noted above, a Campus Master Plan needs to consider many things. It needs to take into account the communities and neighborhoods that surround the College, the transportation systems that serve the College, the infrastructure (for example, water and electrical), the landscape, how the buildings are located, the likely growth of the College, how the College community interacts, and where new buildings should go. It also needs to consider sustainability issues – social, economic, and environmental – in the use of materials and design of spaces. This is continuing with the tradition set in the design of other recent RRC buildings such as HETC and the Patterson GlobalFoods Institute. The theme of diversity and community are also important, as the College spaces need to appeal to a very diverse student body who literally make the campus their “home” while they are studying.
The Campus Planning process has been guided by a steering committee, headed by David Rew (VP Student Services and Planning). Research and Planning has assisted the Campus Master Plan process in a number of ways, including participating on the Committee as well as using the Staff Survey to get feedback on a numbers of campus planning issues.
For example, the May and June staff surveys (2012) asked staff to rate different aspects of the campus in terms of how “ideal” they are, using a 10 point rating scale. As you can see from the chart below, external public spaces are rated relatively higher at the Notre Dame Campus (NDC) compared to the Exchange District Campus (EDC), while the ratings for the learning environment is relatively low at NDC compared to EDC.After the rating of each section, staff were asked to describe what the ideal environment for each would be. To illustrate, one person described their ideal learning environment as follows:
“An ideal learning environment should; a) be visually appealing, b) should allow for student instructor interaction, c) should have few physical disruptions (noise, cold draughts), d) should have IT equipment that works, e) Wi Fi internet accessibility for all that need it; f) a library that has the capacity to connect to a wide variety of journals and online resources. … RRC does have committed faculty which is another aspect of an ideal learning environment.”
Gathered together and combined with other results, these ratings and responses help provide a good foundation for understanding how staff see their current environment, as well as providing a vision for the type of campus that staff consider “ideal”.Sasaski Associates Inc. was hired to develop the Campus Master Plan. In addition to all the data collecting and fact finding, Sasaki plans to consult with the College directly, and produce a Master Plan by the end of the summer 2013. In fact, Sasaki will begin the research phase starting next week.
Of course, the plan won’t change things immediately, but it will begin to change how capital is spent, how funds are raised, and where new buildings, such as the new Skilled Trades and Technology Centre will be built. Based on the experiences of other colleges, having a robust campus master plan makes it easier to understand how the College will develop and start to reduce the frictions caused by historic itches.