"Each of these students represents a story yet untold and each of these students will be the author of their own story. Wherever they locate, to be successful they will have to think big—to think beyond the restraints of their current imagination, beyond their current city limits, and beyond the boundaries of their current circumstances."
—UNL State of the University Address, delivered September 11, 2012 by Chancellor Harvey Perlman
Collaboration is one of today's biggest buzzwords—but at Sasaki, it's at the core of what we do. We see it as not just as a working style, but as one of the fundamentals of innovation. Collaboration means thinking and working beyond boundaries to make new discoveries.
In an age of diminishing resources, we must value partnerships over individual interests, and take action toward a greater, more sustainable collective future. For the last eight months, we've been working with the University of Lincoln-Nebraska (UNL) on a campus and landscape master plan that does just that. Called Plan Big, the plan hinges on layered, interconnected strategies that will enhance greater good. Sasaki principal and campus planner Greg Havens calls this approach "linked-up thinking."
The value of such integrated strategies is often discussed, but rarely implemented. Here are three examples of how we are achieving big ideas through collaboration in Plan Big:
UNL is the third most urban of its Big Ten peers. The campus's southern boundary—affectionately known as the Zipper Zone—is an interlocking edge shared with downtown Lincoln. The draft master plan calls attention to a series of north-south corridors that programmatically connect the vibrancy of downtown with UNL's academic core. By heightening awareness of these overlaps, Plan Big creates a roadmap for future investments to strengthen the town-gown relationships that will benefit both the university and the city.
The Zipper Zone
Indoors and Outdoors
Thinking big about UNL's learning environments led to some unexpectedly modest strategic interventions that could be transformative for the core of campus.
One of the most enthusiastically received ideas in the master plan is the re-thinking of Love Library. Sited at the center of campus, the 1970 Love North addition sits as an impenetrable book repository. Concurrently addressing the building and its surroundings, the plan takes an integrated approach that will create both exceptional open space and a new indoor learning environment by opening up three of the Love North facades.
Love Library reimagined
Teaching and Learning
Implementation of a master plan requires a vision that will inspire community support and momentum for years to come. The plan has to transcend the boundaries of a typical master planning effort, seeping into the culture of the school and the consciousness of the community.
The Plan Big team has employed a wide array of means to engage the UNL community, from a website full of interactive tools to community open houses and focus groups. A recent public lecture and exhibition entitled "Plan Big: The Making of a Master Plan" opened in conjunction with the draft master plan open house process. Sponsored by UNL's College of Architecture, the event drew nearly 300 school community members and also offered an opportunity for the Sasaki team to connect with UNL's burgeoning architects, landscape architects and planners. Two recent UNL graduates, Bradley Howe and Leah MacCaulay, have even joined the Sasaki staff and both contribute to the planning effort.
Exhibition at UNL
Members of the Sasaki team—which includes Greg Havens, Gina Ford (UNL's 2012 Spring Hyde Chair of Excellence), Brie Hensold, Alexis Canter, Sarah Madden, Hsing-Chih Lee, Tracy Dupont, Bradley Howe, Taekyung Kim, and Leah MacCaulay—will be back on campus in March to present the final Plan Big plan.
Sasaki's also has a rich academic relationship with UNL. Currents, a Sasaki research project exploring recent shifts in the design and construction of the public realm, was inspired by academic explorations at the University of Nebraska.
We are excited about where this integrated approach will take UNL—and where it can take other schools, cities, and organizations.