Northwestern University's Evanston Campus Framework Plan defines how the campus can accommodate the ever-changing roles of and challenges to the university in the 21st century. Sasaki's plan provides the campus with predictable and flexible capacity to pursue its dynamic research and professional missions. The plan also ensures that the university's physical setting continues to support and strengthen the quality of the collegial experience by creating open spaces and landscapes rooted in legacy, and by establishing a pedestrian environment that links the campus and is safe, pleasant, and responsive to the climate. The plan also makes the stewardship of the lakefront setting an integral part of the university's future by orienting buildings and landscape to respond to the lakefront, its original features, and the regional park system. Finally, the plan introduces new developments that complement and contribute to the character of the university and surrounding historic districts, thereby maintaining respectful, engaged relationships with the adjoining urban neighborhoods.
The framework plan identifies four zones of landscape stratification from west to east. The first is the city, which provides a rational network of streets that organize transit and movement to and from the campus. The second is a historic oak grove, in which several of Northwestern's landmark 19th- and early 20th-century buildings are arranged along an arc that bows inward toward the lake. The third zone is a proposed new district of campus quadrangles situated in an arc bowing outward from the lake—reciprocal to the arrangement of the historical buildings. The fourth zone is the peninsula preserve, which is conceived as a natural preserve largely for recreation and interaction with the lakefront.
Sasaki also delineated geographic organization along the north-south axis, where three districts are arranged according to broad categories. The South District includes the humanities and a new lakefront music complex. The Central District serves as the organizing and unifying area of the campus with buildings like the student center and library. The North District accommodates Northwestern's science, engineering, and science disciplines.