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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University October 29, 2007 | Vol. 37 No. 9
Looking Ahead to Homewood Master Plan's Next Phase

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

In 1999, the university selected Ayers/Saint/Gross, a Baltimore-based architectural firm, to help craft a much-needed new master plan for the Homewood campus. The objectives of the plan, drafted in 2000, were to make the campus more aesthetically appealing while still accommodating necessary services and to provide a compass that will guide the look and shape of the university well into the 21st century.

The plan identified three unique zones of the campus: the natural western edge, the classic Georgian core and the higher-density urban zone intermingled with the Charles Village neighborhood. It specified design guidelines, as well as landscape and building implementation strategies consistent with the characteristics of those three zones.

Seven years later, many of the plan's objectives have been realized, well ahead of schedule, and the campus has been literally transformed with new walkways, buildings and entrance points.

Realizing this, the university felt now would be an appropriate time to evaluate the master plan's impact to date and to determine what updates would be needed going into the future. The process of data gathering began in April, and the university will soon be ready to share some of its preliminary observations and findings with division leadership and administration.

This week, the university will host an hourlong town hall meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, in Charles Commons. The meeting provides a forum to share the university's efforts to date, get input, listen to concerns and ideas, and have a discussion about how the campus can better serve as an asset from a physical planning perspective.

Mark Demshak, the university's director of architecture and planning and a presenter at the town hall meeting, said that now is the time to look at the 2000 plan and the progress the university has made to align it with future opportunities and needs.

"We want to look at the studies we've done, property we've acquired, buildings completed, evaluate all the work of the past seven years. Then we'll take a step back and see how all of this gets incorporated into this updated plan," Demshak said. "We also want to look at all the lessons learned from implementing these projects and consider the original goals and objectives. How have they changed, and what needs to be considered going forward?"

The updated plan's four guiding principles are to make sustainable and efficient use of natural and built systems, preserve ultimate capacity through strategic use of height and density, maintain investment in the aesthetic character of the campus and strengthen relationships throughout Greater Homewood. The revised plan will likely deal with issues related to capacity, sustainability, circulation, the arts and student needs.

In order to guide the direction of the updated plan, Demshak said that the university will continue to gather information during the next several months and meet with members of the campus community and area residents. He said that he expects the final plan to be drafted by early spring 2008.


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