Sasaki's master planning work at the University of Texas at Austin identifies how to invest in the campus intelligently and consistently, and highlights opportunities to further academic and research excellence in support of the university's mission. A model of integrated planning, Sasaki's plan addresses growth management, land and building use, urban design and placemaking, mobility and parking, historic preservation, and energy management. The plan is guided by social, environmental, and financial sustainability principles, as well as data and analysis to inform better decision-making. The result is an integrated, implementable vision that will enable UT Austin to fulfill its mission.
UT Austin's goal is to become one of the top 20 public research universities in the nation—which means it may need over seven million square feet of new academic and research space over the next 30 years. The master plan provides for growth in the context of an overall strategy for land and building use. UT Austin also has a long history of campus planning, evident in its distinguished architecture and memorable public spaces. The master plan builds on this legacy, managing growth and design to create a unique sense of place in the 21st century.
The plan also emphasizes the importance of reaching beyond the campus core to its adjacent neighborhoods—the Texas Capitol District and an emerging medical and innovation district that connects the campus and downtown. The master plan includes a framework for the medical district that facilitated a follow-on planning effort. Architectural design is currently underway for over $300 million in new medical and support facilities within the medical district, including the new Dell Medical School, a research building, a medical office building, and a parking structure, as well as a separately-funded teaching hospital to be constructed on UT land. The medical school is expected to open in 2017 and the teaching hospital will follow in 2018.
The campus master plan creates a systems-based sustainability framework to explore and evaluate current conditions, goals, plans, and ideas at UT Austin. This approach contributes to the resilience of the campus's built environment, natural environment, society, and economy. Integrating planning and design principles with the university's sustainability goals, the framework helps establish strategies and metrics for success. A related energy study creates a model for self-sustaining energy initiatives.
In a related landscape master plan that addresses both the main campus and medical district, Sasaki defines landscape materials, practices, and policies to enhance the landscape's relationship to the larger natural and urban systems of which it is part. In particular, the plan restores the previously neglected Waller Creek.
Sasaki also developed visualization technology that provides the university with an ongoing decision support system. These powerful tools ensure the master plan is not a static document but an ongoing, responsive process. The technology also integrates all the different components of the plan, so the university can evaluate buildings, for example, in regards to condition, energy use, historical significance, academic adjacencies, land use, and environmental context.
In the spring of 2013, the UT Board of Regents approved the plans for both the campus and the medical district.