Comprehensive Master Plan 2016 will provide a roadmap and long-term vision for the Athens and Dublin campuses during the next decade.

Comprehensive Master Plan 2016 will provide a road map and long-term vision for the Athens and Dublin campuses during the next decade.

Photo courtesy of: Ohio University Photography

The Dublin Campus will be included in the new Comprehensive Master Plan.

The Dublin Campus will be included in the new Comprehensive Master Plan.

Photographer: John Sattler/Ohio University

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University begins Comprehensive Master Plan process


Ohio University has started a 15-month endeavor to complete Comprehensive Master Plan 2016, which includes the strategic and physical development of the Athens and Dublin campuses. The plan will provide a road map and long-term vision for the next decade that celebrates the rich history of the University and addresses its future needs for years to come.

The master plan offers an exciting opportunity for the University to raise aspirations and establish visionary goals that are balanced with what can realistically be achieved, funded and implemented.  

The University’s Board of Trustees recently approved a planning budget to begin development of the Comprehensive Master Plan, which will help guide OHIO’s capital investments and ensure that the construction and placement of buildings, utilities, transportation, and other infrastructure components support the University’s mission and academic plans.

To assist with the effort, the University has selected Ayers-Saint Gross, an architectural and planning firm based in Baltimore, Md. To help the University develop the master plan, ASG will leverage past and ongoing projects at the University with innovative best practices, rigorous analysis and an integrated approach to planning where issues are looked at in conjunction with each other.

“The Comprehensive Master Plan is a master plan process that will look at the entire Athens campus properties as well as the Dublin Campus,” said OHIO Director of University Planning and Space Management Shawna Bolin. “A lot has changed over the past decade and almost every project need presents a domino effect in planning. The master plan effort will review strategies for these needs, incorporate and review thinking from several ongoing initiatives, from both a strategic and project sense, including projects like the Innovation Strategy, The Ridges Master Plan 2014, The Housing Development Plan, and the Utilities Master Plan.”

A comprehensive framework

The concept of having a Comprehensive Master Plan for the Athens campus that encompasses more than 200 buildings on 1,800 acres is not new, as OHIO regularly updates its master plan every decade. The most recent comprehensive master plan was created and implemented in 2006.

With almost $1 billion in capital projects identified in the Six-Year Capital Improvement Plan, updating the Comprehensive Master Plan 2006 currently in place is critical and will assist with project feasibility, priorities, timing and campus impacts.

Comprehensive Master Plan 2006 provides the current strategic framework for the Athens Campus as it moves forward with various construction projects and strategic initiatives. The plan will remain in effect until Comprehensive Master Plan 2016 is completed and approved by the OHIO Board of Trustees.

ASG has completed planning work at several institutions that share similar issues facing OHIO, including the following:  

  • A master plan and master plan update for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, N.C.
  • A campus plan for the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Wis.
  • A campus plan and college town study at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind.
  • A campus framework plan for the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass.
  • A campus master plan for Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan.
  • A campus plan update for Towson University in Towson, Md.

The University received proposals from several firms, which were individually reviewed and evaluated by a consultant selection committee. ASG was chosen by the committee for their integrated planning techniques, visionary approach that combines creativity with realistic expectations, and an understanding of OHIO’s historic development and sense of place within the local community.

“We’re really excited about collaborating with Ohio University,” said Kevin Petersen, project director with ASG. “It’s one of the oldest institutions in the country, yet has a powerful forward thinking mission to be the nation’s best transformative learning community.”

Comprehensive Master Plan 2016 will align the strategic initiatives and the mission of OHIO with the physical environment, Petersen said. “The relationship between the campus and city of Athens also is an important component of the plan,” he said.

Bolin and Petersen have outlined several task groups, committees, and public forum groups from which to gather information throughout the process, including the following:

Comprehensive Master Plan Structure

Throughout the process, ASG will bring together campus stakeholders in a variety of venues and mediums to gather input, spark critical thinking and new ideas, communicate concepts and build consensus. Stakeholders will include students, faculty, staff, alumni and the City of Athens.

The 15-month process of creating the Comprehensive Master Plan is divided into five phases:

Phase 1: Review of current operational and real estate strategies, sustainability initiatives, the Four Fundamentals Academic Plan, 2006 Comprehensive Plan, and Six-Year Capital Plan and projects.

Phase 2: Assess the current and projected needs at OHIO, including the physical environment, natural systems, landscape and relationship to the river. The conditions of the buildings and roadways and how they work well together will be reviewed, as well as transportation systems and the various units on campus to create an assessment of their existing buildings.

Phase 3: Envisioning the future of Ohio and the generation of ideas on how the overall campus can develop in the future. How the University should use The Ridges, work with the city, and utilize the various campus precincts will be reviewed.

Phase 4: Test the potential for having planned open spaces for both buildings and specific areas of campus, including site plans for College Green, and identify where buildings should ideally be located.

Phase 5: Refine the work into one final plan, complete with recommendations and guidelines to present to the University community.

The key to development of Comprehensive Master Plan 2016 includes collecting input from faculty, staff, students, as well as various stakeholders and committees involved throughout the process. A series of workshops designed to collect input from the campuses and communities also will take place.

A website has been developed to share updates on Comprehensive Master Plan 2016, and includes the schedule and general master plan information. One feature on the website is a MindMixer tool that was designed to collect input from various stakeholders throughout the communities affected by the plan.

About Ayers-Saint Gross

Founded in 1912, ASG is a 150-person, internationally-recognized design firm with offices in Baltimore Md., the District of Columbia, and Phoenix, Ariz. The firm is unique in that the majority of their work is for colleges and universities, including more than 200 campus master plans. The firm’s interdisciplinary staff of design professionals is organized around specialized areas of expertise, including campus planning, landscape architecture, signage and wayfinding, space analytics, sustainability, and building design for a wide-range of academic, research, and student life facilities.

ASG’s approach to campus planning combines rigorous analysis, innovation and design excellence. Their work focuses on enhancing the physical environment to best support the University’s mission and strategic plan.

Members of the Steering Committee

Pam Benoit, Executive Vice President and Provost.

Stephen Golding, Vice President for Finance and Administration.

Ryan Lombardi. Vice President for Student Affairs.

Deb Shaffer, Senior Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration.

Joe Lalley, Senior Associate Vice President of Technologies and Administrative.

To view the Comprehensive Master Plan Schedule, click here.