When Sasaki was engaged to create a master plan for Methodist University, the school had a number of pressing challenges. How should the campus evolve and grow its 1960s era main campus? How could the school deal with a challenging erosion and runoff problem? How should Methodist utilize its 600-acre campus to the highest and best use, including a mile-long frontage along the Cape Fear River? The master plan answers these questions and establishes a vision for the campus rooted in the history of the institution and the unique qualities of this small and cohesive campus community. Sasaki team formulated clear planning objectives to guide and evaluate all master plan initiatives. These included transforming the campus core, improving the campus's image, enhancing student life, promoting environmental stewardship, and providing room for program growth. The plan focuses the majority of investment within the core of campus in order to promote a walkable, livable, and vibrant academic community.
The master plan relocates parking out of the core campus and reserves this space for academic expansion. Key existing student life spaces in the core are renovated and expanded, including the student center, worship center and performance hall, and library. The health sciences district is strengthened on the South Campus and student residences are augmented on the North Campus. Taking advantage of a natural change in grade, a central parking area is transformed into a campus park and pond. This landscape provides both an aesthetic amenity and increases the campus' stormwater detention capacity.
A restorative approach to the landscape focuses on increasing pedestrian connectivity and creating a series of linked open spaces that provide the shade needed in the North Carolina climate. The plan proposes enhancements to the public face of the campus, including a low site wall, walkway, lighting, and signage to better announce the college's presence along the street. These "front door" improvements have been realized.
Since the completion of the master plan in 2012, Sasaki has continued work on campus with concept design for several building and site improvements including the Berns Student Center renovation and expansion, the Reeves Worship Center and Performance Hall, and the health science building. The firm continues to work with Methodist on current planning and building efforts to realize the bold vision of the master plan.