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Integrating three districts with a plan for an inclusive and engaged campus

2021 University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus Plan

University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN
Planning and Urban Design
Additional Services
Landscape Architecture
Completed December 2021
Society for College and University Planning (SCUP), Merit Award for Excellence in Planning for an Existing Campus

The 2021 University of Minnesota Twin Cities (UMTC) Campus Plan establishes a vision for a vibrant, safe, inclusive, and welcoming campus responsive to the university’s three unique districts—West Bank, East Bank, and St. Paul. It provides guidance for the land use, public realm, mobility, and sustainability frameworks that will shape the campus of tomorrow all while considering the university’s academic, research, innovation, service, and clinical care goals.

The plan looks forward to the 10-year horizon and beyond by building upon the long history of the university, its resilience, and the guidance provided by previous plans, including the 2009 Master Plan. It also takes into consideration long-standing planning principles, recent and ongoing planning studies, and the Systemwide Strategic Plan (MPact 2025), with the goal of guiding incremental change in ways that contribute to the existing campus, emerging districts, and the surrounding community’s context.

Big Ideas

The plan is anchored by ten “Big Ideas” that build on existing conditions and aspirational goals for change. The Big Ideas emerged from the consultation, surveys, and analysis carried out during the planning process. They represent goals, actions, and opportunities for enhancing the campus in response to the identified planning drivers and aspirations for the future:

  1. Create a More Inclusive Campus
  2. Enrich the Student Experience
  3. Support Patient Care and the Provider Experience in the Health Services
  4. Promote Innovation Through Partnership Development
  5. Make Campus Easier to Navigate and Prioritize Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Transit Circulation
  6. Engage the River
  7. Align Future Development with the Public Realm Framework
  8. Reinvest in the Campus Core
  9. Enhance Financial Resiliency
  10. Use Land and Resources Sustainably

West Bank

The vision for the West Bank capitalizes on the proposed demolition and the renewal of the West Bank plaza to provide a new facility focused on instruction, student inclusion, collaboration, and engagement. It also provides guidance for improving the mobility experience and conditions along the campus–community interface. Future expansion opportunities are coordinated with the vision for plaza renewal, improved accessibility, and bicycle circulation. 

East Bank

The vision for the East Bank builds on the iconic and memorable assembly of buildings and landscapes that shape The Knoll and Northrop Mall. It calls for renewal and reinvestment in these core areas to create a more inclusive campus, enhance the student experience, engage the Mississippi River, and improve mobility, while addressing a range of deferred maintenance and operational issues. The vision also provides guidance for physical changes to the Twin Cities campus based on the renewal of clinical care and research activity. Restoration of the city grid in the southeast corner of the campus establishes the context for the renewal of the Health Sciences and Clinical Care district, a new hospital, and undergraduate housing. It also aligns plans for reinvestment in the campus with private sector and partnership developments in the surrounding area. 

To aid in analysis and planning, the East Bank district was further broken down into typology-specific areas. A vision was developed for each area keeping in mind the overarching goals and objectives of the larger planning effort.

St. Paul

The vision for St. Paul acknowledges the importance of the open spaces, landscape, and agricultural fields to the character and mission of the programs located in St. Paul. It calls for a renewed core and provides direction for future university and private sector partnerships focused on bioengineering. A redevelopment strategy for the Commonwealth Terrace Cooperative plans for the next generation of affordable graduate and family housing. The vision also preserves the agricultural lands and natural systems of the campus in support of funded research and the overall focus on sustainability and resiliency in St. Paul.

The Campus Plan aligns the programs, research activities, facilities, research land, and character of the campus with the overarching sustainability initiatives of the University. The plan illustrates potential changes to land use, including recommendations for the Bio-Tech District,  Commonwealth Terrace Area, and potentially an existing golf course.

Mobility Hubs

An important component of the plan was the proposal of mobility hubs across the UMTC campus. Mobility hubs improve the transit user experience and support the transition between travel modes—from transit and bus to biking, walking or ride hailing services. They are envisioned as locations where these modes converge and where indoor waiting and amenities can be provided.

For more information contact Greg Havens.

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