2018 Comparing Campuses: Student Housing

July 10, 2018
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2018 marks the 20th edition of our firm’s Comparing Campuses poster. Since 1998, we have explored hundreds of campus plans from leading institutions around the world. We assemble this collection as a tool for institutional planners because we believe that understanding campus organization and data will lead to the creation of even better spaces in which we live, learn, and teach. We understand the importance of research, and believe that sharing our research contributes to creating better campuses.

Last year, we turned to the past, exploring historic campus master plans and how they helped shape their respective campuses today.

This year, we’re going home – or more precisely, to the on-campus places that students call home.

Housing plays a central role in students’ lives. The residential experience can be a competitive amenity that contributes to a university’s brand. Well-designed spaces and varied typologies should meet the needs of students as they change and grow throughout their college experiences.

Our 2018 poster compares campus-owned housing typology, density, and distribution across 10 institutions. Each map highlights housing facilities color coded by the predominant unit type, overlaid with a series of circles scaled to represent the number of beds in each building. We hope you enjoy exploring how these different institutions have created places that students can call home.

If you won’t be at SCUP, please email us at comparingcampuses@asg-architects.com and we’ll be happy to send you a copy. Additionally, the entire Comparing Campuses collection is available on our website. Visit us there, or at booth 109 at SCUP 2018 to claim your copy. We’ll see you in Nashville, and look forward to discussing the many ways to help students feel at home on campus.

Ayers Saint Gross at 2018 National Planning Conference

April 17, 2018
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If you’re in New Orleans for the APA’s 2018 National Planning Conference later this week, I hope you’ll join me on Saturday April 21 for an educational program on creating a master plan for one of the most challenged neighborhoods in Baltimore. Our approach uses robust engagement founded on empowering residents to provide comprehensive community input and involving public and private stakeholders across a city.

Restoring People While Rebuilding Properties

For decades, the Broadway East neighborhood has struggled with some of the highest vacancy and poverty rates in Baltimore. Economic disinvestment, housing abandonment, and crime have left the community destitute. While many residents have fled over the past few decades, a number of lifelong citizens and institutions remain, anchoring the neighborhood with hope and memories of a past vibrant village.

In response to the spring 2015 unrest following the death of Freddie Gray, Reverend Donte Hickman, a neighborhood leader, met with Ayers Saint Gross. The need for a clear, collective vision and master plan for the future was evident. It was essential that this vision be founded on community input. The public outreach was a comprehensive, three-step process, focused on empowering residents by teaching them about planning practices, terminology, and process. While the plan is founded on community input, the overall engagement extends across the city, through both the public and private sectors, building consensus, support, and resources for future development. With corporate partners, city leaders, and community members on board, development is beginning to take off.

Upon completion, participants will be able to:

  • Create a robust, community-centered engagement process that empowers residents of a disenfranchised neighborhood by teaching them about planning practices, terminology, and process;
  • Engage a community that has typically been underserved, and has recently been under national scrutiny as the center of civil unrest; and
  • Understand the value of consensus building from not only a community engagement perspective, but also among city agencies and private investors.

Presenters
Adam Gross, Principal, Ayers Saint Gross
Rev. Dr. Donte L. Hickman, Pastor, Southern Baptist Church
Amber Wendland, Associate, Ayers Saint Gross

Details
Saturday, April 21, 2018
1:00 PM – 2:15 PM
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
900 Convention Center Boulevard
New Orleans, LA 70130

Ayers Saint Gross at CCFM 2018

April 5, 2018
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If you’re attending the Conference for Catholic Facilities Management in Austin next week, you can catch Ayers Saint Gross presenting on our transformational planning project for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Creating a New Vision for Catholic Schools in Baltimore
From the 1880s to the mid-20th century, Catholic education flourished in the United States with the peak of Catholic school construction in the mid-1960s. Since then, deferred maintenance costs, increased competition, changes in the labor market, and shifting demographics have placed increased pressure on the viability of many schools. In Baltimore, schools operated well below capacity, and were often consolidated or forced to close. The Archdiocese of Baltimore sought to stem this decline, and in 2015 began a process of addressing the existing conditions at 22 schools throughout the diocese.

Through a series of community and school meetings, workshops, and strategy sessions, the Archdiocese worked with a team of consultants to analyze demographic, facility, enrollment, and financial data to formulate a strategy for reinvestment. That plan, along with a rebranding and media campaign, has injected new life into the school system, spurring capital investment and enrollment growth.

Members of the Archdiocese and planning team will share the process, tools, and outcomes from this transformational planning project and will share how the framework can be used for institutions of all sizes.

Presenters

Nolan McCoy, Director of Facilities Management, Archdiocese of Baltimore
Joel Fidler, Associate Principal, Ayers Saint Gross

Details
Conference for Catholic Facilities Management
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Session 1: 10:30 AM until 11:30 AM
Session 2: 1:30 PM until 2:30 PM

2017 Comparing Historic Campus Plans

July 7, 2017
Comparing Campusus SCUP 2017
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Continuing the tradition begun in 1998, Ayers Saint Gross has published a new Comparing Campuses poster for 2017. Over the years, we have explored hundreds of campus plans from leading institutions around the world. We assemble this collection as a tool for institutional planners in the belief that understanding campus organization and data will lead to the creation of even better spaces in which to live, learn, and teach. We understand the importance of research, and believe that sharing our research contributes to creating better campuses.

In 2016, our Comparing Campuses poster explored Innovation Districts, communities that align academia, government, and the private sector. These mixed-use districts offer an exciting glimpse into the future of science, business, and urbanism.

For 2017, we’re turning our attention to the past, and specifically to the ways that universities grow and change. This year’s Comparing Campuses poster highlights historic campus master plans and their relationships to their respective campuses today.

The history of an institution makes for fascinating study, and can inform future planning. In some cases, all the originally planned buildings are still part of campus. In others, none of the original buildings have survived the march of time (or were never built at all). We hope you enjoy seeing how the 11 campuses featured on the 2017 poster evolved over years, decades, and even centuries.

If you won’t be at SCUP, please email us at comparingcampuses@asg-architects.com and we’ll be happy to send you a copy. Additionally, for almost 20 years, Ayers Saint Gross has gathered data on the physical characteristics of campuses for our Comparing Campuses posters. The collection now exceeds 200 campuses, and is available on our website. Visit us there, or at booth 403 at SCUP 2017 to claim your copy. We hope to see you in Washington, and look forward to discussing the past, present, and future of campus planning.

Transforming Sustainability at Texas A&M

March 24, 2017
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When Texas A&M decided to update its 2004 campus master plan with a team of Ayers Saint Gross planners, six integrated focus elements guided the work:

  • Campus Development
  • Mobility and Safety
  • Sustainability and Wellness
  • Campus Guidelines
  • Heritage Conservation
  • Wayfinding and Signage

My role on the team was most closely aligned with Sustainability and Wellness, and our firm’s work in this area is the subject of a session I’ll be co-presenting with Texas A&M’s University Architect, Lilia Gonzales, and Director of Sustainability, Kelly Wellman at the Smart and Sustainable Campuses Conference on March 27. I’m excited about digging into the integrated approach that Texas A&M has taken in planning its campus.

A selection of Texas A&M’s planning work between 2004 and the 2017 Campus Master Plan includes:

  • Sustainability Master Plan
  • Bicycle District Strategic Plan
  • Energy Action Plan
  • Utility and Energy Master Plan
  • Stormwater Management Program
  • District Plans to Direct Physical Development
  • Biennial Sustainability Progress Reports
  • AASHE STARS Report

Each of these elements informed the vision for a sustainable campus that is integrated throughout the 2017 Campus Master Plan to facilitate transformation across the campus community. Coordinating these efforts under a single master plan will clarify Texas A&M’s visions of a sustainable campus and support the transformative ideas the institution has for its campus.

Among other subjects, the Sustainability and Wellness portion of the 2017 Campus Mater Plan includes initiatives about:

  • Building on the success of the recent upgrades to the campus central heat and power plant to continue reductions in energy demand and GHG emissions
  • Managing stormwater with green infrastructure
  • Improving pedestrian mobility across the university’s large campus footprint
  • Developing greater connectivity for the bicycle network both on and off campus
  • Continuing the transition from interior surface lots to perimeter parking garages
  • Advancing the institution’s stated objective of designing LEED Silver equivalent buildings to a more A&M-specific set of high-performance design requirements
  • Progressing the deployment of universal recycling containers on campus
  • Celebrating Texas A&M’s historic legacy while furthering diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts
  • Increasing opportunities for education, outreach, and engagement

Hope to see you at Smart and Sustainable!

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2016

December 16, 2016
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It’s been an eventful year for Ayers Saint Gross. As we turn the calendar page, here’s a look at our most popular blog posts of 2016. We’re proud of what we accomplished with our clients, and are excited about what’s to come in 2017.

1. Luanne Greene is Ayers Saint Gross’ New President. Having distinguished herself as head of our Planning studio and as an acknowledged industry leader, Luanne rose to become the President of Ayers Saint Gross. She is the first woman to lead the firm in its 100-year history.

2. Anne Hicks Harney Elevated to AIA College of Fellows. Our Sustainability Director is now one of four FAIAs at Ayers Saint Gross, alongside Glenn Birx, Luanne Greene, and Adam Gross. Anne was also named a LEED Fellow this year.

3. Placemaking for People: How Stormwater Management Can Be a Design Asset. The unglamorous necessity of stormwater management can be a starting point for truly great design in landscape architecture.

4. Place Matters: Cortex Innovation Community Wins SCUP Award. Recognition from the Society of College and University Planning was a huge honor. Innovation Districts like Cortex provide a new paradigm for research, business, and job creation.

5. National Aquarium Waterfront Campus Plan Wins AIA Maryland Award. The National Aquarium is a world-renowned conservation organization, and we are excited to be a part of the revitalization of its campus.

6. 2016 Comparing Campuses Innovation Districts. We did a deep dive on Innovation Districts in our 18th annual Comparing Campuses poster. (We also have an online archive of all the Comparing Campuses posters.)

7. A Brief History of the Ayers Saint Gross ACUHO-I Housing Book. We’ve been creating these tiny but informative books since 2005 for the annual ACUHO-I conference. We’ll see you in Providence in June with the 2017 edition.

8. Telling a Story with Data. Lisa Keith, head of our Space Analytics studio, wowed the KA Connect Conference with her data visualization expertise.

9. Ayers Saint Gross Reaches $1B in LEED Construction. With the LEED Silver certification of Georgetown University’s Ryan and Isaac Halls, our firm crossed the billion-dollar mark in LEED certified construction. To celebrate, we created an infographic that illustrates exactly what $1,000,000,000 in LEED construction looks like.

10. Going Green, Staying Green: How to Create and Enduring, Sustainable Landscape. Align your sustainability goals with available resources, and consider the life cycle costs of your choices.

The Endless Park: PARK(ing) Day 2016

September 21, 2016
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PARK(ing) Day got its start in 2005, and has since become a global celebration of public space in urban contexts. As a firm, Ayers Saint Gross celebrates sustainability and the importance of green spaces as a necessary part of good urban design. This year the DC office was thrilled to tackle a parking space in NoMa and turn it into an “endless park.”

The goal was to get passersby from the NoMa community to disrupt their daily routines and immerse themselves in an unexpected retreat while learning about urban sustainability practices.

We created our pop-up park out of salvaged wooden pallets from a local construction site, fresh layers of sod, and (most importantly) a series of mirrors. Mirrors have long been a go-to move for making interior spaces seem larger; we figured they could do the same thing for an outdoor space. Thus our mirrors faced each other, creating the illusion of an infinite, endless park.

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We also had a series of posters informing park-goers about urban sustainability. All together it made for a relaxing and informative spot.

Of course, the best urban design is not delivered from on high; it is a collaboration between the designers and the community. With that in mind, we wanted to include an interactive element in our park. We asked pedestrians to contribute by writing thoughts, activities, and feelings about parks and sustainability on tags. The tags became petals on flower-like stakes that were laid out on the park’s grass, creating a “endless” field of wildflowers in the mirrored reflection. As we grew our field of flowers throughout the day, it became a beautiful metaphor for the endless benefits of sustainability.

parking-day-flower

Photo courtesy of Laetitia Brock

To support sustainability once more at the conclusion of the day, our team returned the wood pallets to the construction site and planted the sod nearby in NoMa.

The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat. While our “endless park” lasted only a day, creativity and a thoughtful approach to urban space are ever-present parts of our firm’s philosophy.

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2016 Comparing Innovation Districts Poster

July 6, 2016
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In 1998, the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) held its annual conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Ayers Saint Gross released our first Comparing Campuses poster.

This month, the SCUP Conference is again in Vancouver and we’re releasing our 18th Comparing Campuses poster. It’s fitting that we’ll be in the same city where this project launched, as this year’s edition is a return to the familiar figure-ground diagrams featured on the original poster, albeit with a twist. This year we decided to bring take our attention away from the cores of institutional campuses and focus instead on Innovation Districts.

Innovation Districts, and the economic ecosystems they create, are a platform for universities, research institutions, cities, and the private sector to maximize connections and increase proximity between people, ideas, and investors. In contrast to the isolated suburban research parks of the last century, today’s innovation districts are diverse, mixed-use communities that establish a critical mass of economic, research, and social activity in a dense, walkable area typically adjacent to an anchor institution or downtown.

Our process started with collecting base information and master plans for eleven existing or emerging Innovation Districts throughout the U.S. We ultimately decided on comparing the following aspects of each district:

  • Physical layout (scaled figure-ground)
  • Governance structure
  • Land area
  • Public open space area
  • Research/office space
  • Retail space
  • Housing units
  • Hotel rooms
  • Transit service
  • Distance to anchor institutions & downtown

We compiled the necessary data and information for each district from local government sources, development plans, master plans and reports, and other partner organizations involved with district planning and oversight.

It was a fascinating exercise and successful team effort to put together this poster, and we hope you enjoy exploring it as much as we enjoyed creating it. You can peruse this year’s edition, as well as the entire archive of Comparing Campuses here. It’s exciting to see how these districts are evolving and growing, and to imagine the impact they will keep making on our cities, economy, and collective future.

Place Matters: Cortex Innovation Community Wins SCUP Award

June 28, 2016
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In 2002, several major St. Louis institutions had a great idea: they would combine forces to create the Cortex Innovation Community, a mixed-used community that would combine academia, government, and industry.

It was a visionary concept that saw how the isolated research parks of decades past didn’t really serve innovation or the innovators. People wanted to live and work in close proximity, and to catalyze and distribute the discoveries that came out of research more efficiently. With a $29 million dollar investment, the institutions set out to transform a decaying area into a center of research and enterprise.

There was one problem: the district’s physical environment did not support the vision. The envisioned hub of bioscience and technology innovation was just a loose collection of inwardly-focused buildings surrounded by pavement. The area lacked what one writer calls “collision density,” the rate of interaction between scientists and entrepreneurs.

By 2012, the district needed a new vision and significant investment in its physical place. The lead institutions and their developer partner, Wexford Science and Technology, asked the Ayers Saint Gross planning team to create the Cortex Innovation Community Master Plan. The plan was a vision to transform the 200-acre industrial corridor into a vibrant, 24-7, live-work-play-learn innovation community.

Transforming Cortex into a thriving innovation ecosystem required getting a diverse set of stakeholders to think and act like a community. Conversations with city officials, entrepreneurs, university and hospital leaders, students, researchers, and local developers revealed a disconnect between the users’ idea of community and its manifestation in the physical environment.

The integrated planning strategy brought together the following elements:

  • Program. People and ideas do not come together by chance. We tapped into lessons learned from rigorous study of the anatomy of research environments to envision shared spaces and innovative programming to support emerging companies.
  • Placemaking. Cortex needed an identity and a physical plan that mirrored the community everyone wanted. The new model focused on density and diversity of use, strong transit connections, animated streetscapes, and open space.
  • Investment. Access to capital and financing resources are essential to physical and programmatic transformations. A deliberate mixed-use land use strategy which included a TIF district set Cortex up for success.

Although the master plan is a long-term planning document, it needed to address immediate placemaking challenges, include the creation of a central park, flexible research space, and walkable streets with trees. Prioritizing development around a central node made it easy to envision Cortex a true community.

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Just over three years since the completion of the master plan, the rapidly growing district propelled St. Louis to become one of the fastest growing startup cities in the country, averaging 5.6 percent growth between 2014 and 2015. Cortex is now home to a network of 200 companies (nearly 150 are startups), over $500 million in investment and 3,600 new jobs. Two years from now it is projected to have 5,000 jobs and $750 million in investment.

The plan initiated a massive neighborhood revitalization. A full build-out of the Cortex Innovation Community is expected to create 13,000 permanent technology-related jobs. A MetroLink (light rail) stop is underway, and a new I-64 interchange serves as a new gateway to the district.

I’m so pleased to see SCUP recognize the hard work of Ayers Saint Gross and the Cortex stakeholders with recognition in Excellence in Planning for an Existing Campus. The community is a model for a university-affiliated innovation district that harnesses a single urban location to build a culture of collaboration and discovery. Each building, each lobby, each green space, encourages people to bump into each other, share ideas, and create connections. It’s a wonderful, vibrant place that can serve as a blueprint for other cities and institutions.

Luanne Greene is Ayers Saint Gross’ new president.

January 1, 2016
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“Luanne leads without having to say ‘I’m the leader,’ but rather by action and understanding.” – Hank Webber, Executive Vice Chancellor for Administration, Washington University in St. Louis

Having distinguished herself as head of our Planning Studio, building our respected higher education practice, and as an acknowledged industry leader, Luanne has risen to become the next President of Ayers Saint Gross. She is the first woman to lead the firm in its 100-year history. Luanne will guide the management team with a focus on implementing the firm’s strategic vision. She will continue to work with clients on projects that connect the art and science of planning on campuses across the country. Firm leaders Adam Gross, Jim Wheeler, and Glenn Birx will continue to play integral roles, while identifying Luanne as the next generation leader.

Luanne has long been instrumental in our exceptional higher education practice. With more than 25 years of design and planning experience, Greene has worked on behalf of colleges and universities across the country including Johns Hopkins University; the University of Maryland, Baltimore; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Carnegie Mellon University; and Washington University in St. Louis. Throughout her career, Greene has established new benchmarks in campus planning that have influenced institutions, architects, and planners nationwide by integrating strategic planning, culture, and context into campus design, changing the way American universities and cultural institutions understand the power of their “place” to support a culture of excellence. Her work on more than 14,000 acres of campus open space and development affects the daily experience of more than 260,000 students and 32,000 faculty and staff.

Greene’s work also includes mission-driven cultural institutions and the renewal of several high profile, iconic American treasures. She has completed master plans for the Wildlife Conservation Society (including the Bronx Zoo) and interconnected plans for the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of American History and a Pan-Institutional Collections Space. This work reaches more than 21.5 million visitors annually.

Greene was recently named to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) College of Fellows, which honors architects who have made significant contributions to architecture and society and who have achieved a standard of excellence in the profession.

Community Engagement for Planning and Design

October 20, 2015
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As planners and architects, we design the big picture and future long-term visions for our planning sites. In order to identify issues and opportunities, we engage communities with key strategies to understand their needs. Our main goal is to educate and understand the public’s view on their community from their heritage to key planning principles and the impacts of future development in their neighborhood.

Community Engagement is not just providing information – it creates a platform to solicit feedback, hear stories and understand the value of the community from those who experience it on a daily basis.

For the Southwest Neighborhood Plan completed with the District of Columbia Office of Planning, our team developed a number of engagement tools to educate the public and support the planning discussion.

Visioning Session Graphic Recording

To capture the vision of the large group – our team engaged a group of 250 community members through a series of questions that were then recorded and illustrated. Graphic recording engages participants and stimulates discussion while providing an ongoing visual record of the discussion.

Post-It Comment Boards

We have learned that some in the public are not comfortable sharing ideas in a large group setting. To engage those people – a more intimate engagement strategy evolved through Post-It Boards. A series of display boards with large questions allows community members to write their answers, post them and read what their neighbors were saying about the same issue.

Interactive Model

To understand the larger context, our team created a large scale massing model of the entire site for community members to interact with. A series of color tile chips represented design strategies and community members could place proposed sites for future amenities within their neighborhoods. These tiles help illustrate the connectivity and program elements of a neighborhood and our team documented each scenario as the community built the vision for the future.

The most important takeaway from our engagement process – we are planning and designing for the users and we want communities to design with us.

2015 Comparing Campuses Poster

August 29, 2015
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Ayers Saint Gross released the first Comparing Campuses poster at the 1998 Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) Conference in Vancouver, BC. It featured black and white figure-ground drawings of 11 campuses depicted at the same scale. Seventeen years and posters later, the collection exceeds 200 campuses.

For the 50th SCUP conference in 2015, we wanted to play up the history of SCUP by incorporating all post-secondary institutions rather than focusing on individual institutional snapshots. While we have historically focused on physical characteristics, we broadened our perspective to look at both physical and statistical data that illustrate the dramatic changes that have occurred over the past 50 years. Where were we in 1965? Where are we going today? Some of these statistics such as enrollment rates are well-known but deserve another look to validate progress. Others such as gender and diversity hint at a shifting societal role of post-secondary education that is evolving.

Our process started with researching a dozen or so metrics that could potentially comprise this year’s poster. Many matrices, charts, and spreadsheets of data later, the metrics we decided to include are (roughly) divided into four overarching categories:

  1. Access – Who is attending? Enrollment, Gender, Diversity boxes along the top row
  2. Typology – Where are students going (both by geography and type of institution)? Geography, Largest Institutions, Scale & Quantity along the middle row
  3. Faculty – Are they part-time or full-time? Faculty box in bottom left corner
  4. Money – What does it all cost? Tuition, Room & Board boxes along the bottom row

In our previous posters with figure grounds and space data, we relied on self-reported data from the colleges and universities. One thing we discovered in our research is that there is no standardization of space data reported at a national level. Per Frank Markley at Paulien & Associates, “the national government stopped collecting GSF for US campuses in 1974.” So unfortunately we could not include any space-related metrics at any standardized national level.

This data was compiled from multiple sources and we applied our own interpretations and graphics. The majority of the data was provided by The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and The Chronicle for Higher Education (as well as the Census). We not only used the published data from NCES and the Chronicle but contacted each agency and had ongoing dialogue and sharing of data. The poster is the result of a collaborative process. Although the poster comprises nine different boxes, everything in the poster is part of an ecosystem that is tied together.