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A vision that builds upon one of Sasaki’s legacy plans and supports the campus for long-term growth

University of Colorado Boulder 2021 Master Plan

University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO
600 acres
Planning and Urban Design
Additional Services
Landscape Architecture
Completed December 2021
American Society of Landscape Architects, Colorado Chapter, Merit Award—Analysis & Planning category
Society for College and University Planning, Merit Award, Excellence in Planning for an Existing Campus

Sasaki recently completed a comprehensive campus master plan (CMP) for the University of Colorado (CU) Boulder. This planning effort marks sixty years since Sasaki’s first involvement in developing a master plan for CU.

The CMP builds upon and integrates the university’s strategic plan, as well as its recently completed housing master plan, transportation master plan, and energy master plan. The plan considers how to best leverage CU’s multiple campus landholdings in support of its mission while also preserving the unique historical character of the main campus core.

Significant areas for growth include both research and housing and the plan identifies various strategies for accommodating these facilities throughout the campus environs with emphasis on and consideration of campus connectivity. Sustainability, not only as it relates to energy but also in terms of water resources, ecology, and resiliency, are key strategies that underlie every aspect of the planning. The planning process was highly participatory, engaging students, faculty, and staff from CU’s campus community, as well as alumni, University of Colorado system administrators, and the Design Review Board.

Campus Character + Frameworks

The CU Boulder campus comprises three proximate properties, all of which are located within the City of Boulder: Main Campus, including the North Boulder Creek housing district; East Campus; and Williams Village. The design team studied the architectural and open space character of each during their analysis and documented the rich design context within the various districts and campuses.

The CMP identified four distinct campuses or districts, each with its own character, and created frameworks for each to guide development.

Main Campus

The historic heart of CU Boulder, containing many of the core academic, research, and student life functions of the campus. The plan proposes a long-term growth strategy that is sensitive to the historic context. The majority of new building development hugs either side of Regent Drive, transforming this corridor from a disconnected vehicular roadway into a more intimately-scaled campus street.

North Boulder Creek (NBC)

This district is characterized by low density apartment complexes within a residential street grid abutting Boulder Creek. The proposed NBC framework balances programmatic demand with formal and informal open spaces. Due to its proximity to Main Campus, enhanced with the completion of the two new bridge connections, NBC offers an opportunity to significantly increase residential density.

East Campus

This district offers a diverse range of building typologies and architectural character. The proposed framework for East Campus imagines a vibrant mixed-use campus anchored around the Campus Heart—the district’s landscape feature. Aside from that, a defining element is the reimagined and realigned Discovery Drive, which serves as a central pedestrian-priority spine that connects the campus from west to east.

Williams Village

Williams Village is primarily a residential campus located southeast of Main Campus. The campus is characterized by high rise residential towers and lower rise, but expansive apartment complexes surrounding a central green recreation space. A key objective for Williams Village is to support the formation of a holistic student community. To achieve this, the CMP proposes a network of new spaces to create a more balanced student experience.

Design and Landscape Guidelines

In addition to the main master plan document, the project team developed a series of design and landscape guidelines. The design guidelines are intended to support the campus master planning design principles organized around specific districts and designated building program typologies. The landscape guidelines are organized by landscape typology and are intended as a reference for designing new campus open spaces.

For more information contact Tyler Patrick, Romil Sheth or Joshua Brooks.

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