In the fall of 2012, Wichita State University launched a master planning process that engaged faculty, staff, and students in the task of reimagining the campus. This visioning process corresponded to the arrival of a new president and a new approach to university relations defined by collaboration with private companies on academic programs, research, and campus development. Sasaki's master plan provides a framework for transformation of the campus over time in response to the university's mission, emerging partnership opportunities, and the university's aspiration to transition from a commuter university to a residential university. It is informed by a coordinated and comprehensive vision for campus development, landscape design, and circulation with the goal of supporting the mission of the university: To equip both students and the larger community with the educational and cultural tools they need to thrive in a complex world, and to achieve both individual responsibility in their own lives and effective citizenship in the local, national, and global community.
The master plan examines campus learning environments, the spatial organization and function of the built environment, landscape and open space systems, circulation and parking, community connections, and overall conditions of the campus within the context of a comprehensive and integrated plan. It provides a vision for student life with an emphasis on housing that will be developed in partnership with a private-sector developer. The proposed housing lies at the heart of the campus and is being constructed as the first step toward creating a more residential campus. The master plan also coordinates necessary utility and infrastructure improvements with the proposed renovation and expansion projects. Utility improvements are coordinated with landscape and pedestrianization initiatives proposed for the campus.
The master plan accommodates present-day programmatic needs for housing, a business building, and a university technology district while promoting sustainable design strategies for mobility, landscape design, and stormwater management. The programmatic needs illustrated in the master plan are based on a thorough data-based analysis of the future growth, which summarizes the type and amount of existing space needed to support the mission. This analysis yielded strategies on where to renovate versus where potential new development might occur.
In the coming years, Wichita State University aspires to transition from a commuter university to a residential university, shifting the dynamic of campus from an auto-centric environment to a more balanced pedestrian environment. The master plan is intended to serve as a guide in facilitating this change by creating a people-minded landscape framework that stitches the campus together in a direct, safe, and creative way. The result is a framework that organizes existing development and one that will organize future development in a manner that respects the history and traditions of the university.
The master plan holds true to the traditions of place-making by looking back to the land-based values originally expressed in a well-conceived 1923 master plan. It introduces three east-to-west landscape corridors through the campus as an overlay to the existing pattern of development, the intent of which is to unify the three major periods of uncoordinated campus development: the historic campus on the west, the 1960s and '70s expansion area at the center, and a golf course to the east. The corridors thematically organize current and future activities around athletics and recreation, student life, and arts, sciences, and engineering. They are part of an overall strategy to provide shade along east-west pedestrian routes and to establish wind-breaks across the campus. The landscape strategy also takes into consideration Wichita State's extensive outdoor sculpture collection.
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