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“Planning the Future of the Past”—a master plan for a historic campus and buildings

Lincoln University Master Plan

Lincoln University
Chester County, PA
Planning and Urban Design
Completed 2019

Established in 1853, Lincoln University is the first degree-granting HBCU in the United States and one of three founded prior to the Civil War. In its formative years, 1854 to 1934, Lincoln’s graduates included Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Justice of the Supreme Court, and Langston Hughes, the acclaimed poet and writer. During this period, Lincoln also built a campus defined by buildings of historical, cultural and architectural significance—buildings that are now in need of restoration. In 2018, the University selected Sasaki and Preservation Design Partnership to “plan the future of the past”.

Located in Chester County, Pennsylvania, Lincoln occupies a campus shaped by academic and residential buildings representative of the architectural styles prevalent from 1850 to 1930 as well as the work of Philadelphia-based architectural firms of the day. In particular, the firm of Sloan and Hutton who designed buildings at Lincoln, Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford Colleges.

Today, several of Lincoln’s historic buildings are in a state of disrepair. Reversing this decline is the focus of the President’s strategic initiative to “Tell the Lincoln Story.” By acknowledging the historical significance of the campus and its contributing buildings, the goal is to elevate the regional and national importance of the institution. The master plan supports this goal by providing a stabilization and reuse strategy for the historic buildings while responding to the mission and strategic plan of the university.

Several big ideas inform the recommendations of the plan:

  • Restore Lincoln’s history: Designation of a historic district coupled with renovation and programmatic recommendations ensures the future of the contributing buildings.
  • Enhance academic quality: Investment in learning environments and technology supports student success and engagement goals.
  • Foster a strong student life experience:  New social spaces, amenities and housing respond to student demand and enrollment growth.
  • Develop strategic partnerships: Community partnerships and an institutional museum highlight the “Lincoln Story” and its connections to the Underground Railroad history of the region.
  • Strengthen pathways and landscapes: An accessible pathway network coordinated with campus landscape strategies links ground level social and collaboration spaces with the goal of fostering a vibrant campus environment.
  • Provide a Pedestrian Friendly and Car Free Campus Core:  A pedestrian-priority zone removes traffic and parking from the campus core, completes the campus loop road, and relocates parking to the periphery.

For more information contact Greg Havens.

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