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University of North Carolina Greensboro Master Plan Update

University of North Carolina Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina
231 acres
Planning and Urban Design
Completed 2020

The 2020 Master Plan for the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG) builds upon a legacy of over thirty years of planning, including two previous plans developed by Sasaki in 2007 and 2014. The 2020 Plan assesses past campus development, recent planning studies, land acquisitions, and new infrastructure connections to guide growth in a thoughtful manner, both within and beyond current campus boundaries. The plan provides a guide for expanding the campus in a way that ensures a cohesive character and identity, promotes the integration of living and learning, addresses the Strategic Plan, and meets current institutional needs while maintaining flexibility to respond to uncertain future conditions.

The 2020 plan builds upon changes to the campus since 2014, as well as recent land acquisitions along Gate City Boulevard. These changes are strengthening the university’s student residential life experience and providing opportunities for public-private partnerships in the two Millennial Districts identified along the east and south edges of the campus. The plan proposes a range of interventions to be undertaken in the near-term (2020-2025) to fulfill UNCG’s immediate needs. It also documents a flexible long-term vision that builds upon these potential near term projects.

Stepping Forward

The recommendations of the 2020 Campus Plan focus on serving a more diverse student population in new and innovative ways. It builds upon the long history of the institution, its resilience, and the guidance provided by previous masterplans. The outcome is a flexible framework for continued improvement taking into consideration long-standing planning principles for the campus, recent and ongoing planning studies, and the strategic plan, Giant Steps. It does so with the goal of guiding incremental change such that a cohesive campus character is maintained in the established core of the campus and extended to emerging districts.

The Campus Plan is made up of a series of interrelated and coordinated frameworks. These frameworks include: 1) physical frameworks (land use and landscape); 2) programmatic frameworks (academic, research, administrative, campus life, athletics and recreation facilities); and 3) functional frameworks (mobility and infrastructure). Collectively, they provide the overarching structure for the academic, campus life and athletics facilities of the campus. The Campus Plan is coordinated with UNCG’s ongoing sustainability initiatives and provides recommendations for the following: 

  1. Grounds – the Plan maintains the natural systems of the campus to protect habitat areas and promote an appreciation of campus assets. It also promotes a working landscape and stronger connectivity between the formal landscapes and the natural features of the campus. 
  2. Water Resources – the Plan protects the branches of Buffalo Creek that run through the Peabody Park area of the campus by encouraging progressive stormwater management strategies and best management practices (bmps).
  3. Energy, Green Buildings and Greenhouse Gas Emissions – the Plan supports the energy management and climate neutrality goals of the University by recommending robust Energy Use Intensity (EUI) targets for each of the capital improvement projects, in addition to the adopted LEED policies. 
  4. Transportation – the circulation network improvements promote walking and greater accessibility for all individuals as well as health and wellness goals.

Integrated Approach

The Campus Plan included an analysis of the planning drivers, data, and other information provided by UNC Greensboro. Data sources are grouped into three categories: 1) the learning environment; 2) the campus experience; and, 3) sustainability. The learning environment category broadly assesses academic, research and potential partnership opportunities. The campus experience category examines the various population groups of the university, taking into consideration the facilities and amenities that contribute to the quality of their educational, research, living and working experiences. The sustainability category takes into consideration the goals and objectives set out by the university relative to the way in which it educates students, manages resources and operates the campus. This approach is informed by a detailed space utilization and needs assessment.

The 2020 Campus Plan provides a flexible framework for the future; it is designed to enable a variety of development outcomes in response to the needs of the University. It provides frameworks for land use, landscape, and mobility with the aim of unifying the established campus with the surrounding context. It integrates long-established sustainability principles and integrates the millennial campus district concepts. It continues previous initiatives to extend the positive qualities and character of the established campus to the West Gate City Boulevard and Tate Street corridors on the periphery of the campus. These corridors are identified as the Health and Wellness and Visual and Performing Arts Millennial Districts, respectively. 

The Plan is guided by nine Design Principles. 

  1. Create a welcoming campus environment that reflects UNC Greensboro’s mission to be diverse, inclusive, collaborative, responsive, and resilient. 
  2. Foster academic excellence, collaborative scholarship, and interdisciplinary connections by providing flexible and adaptive learning environments that integrate technology for diverse pedagogies and research. 
  3. Improve space planning with the strategic distribution of programs to accommodate efficiencies and enhance departmental synergies. 
  4. Envision Millennial Districts as a 21st century opportunity to strengthen strategic partnerships while connecting to and enhancing the Greensboro community and serving as catalysts for transformation in the region.
  5. Enhance student success and support lifelong learning by enriching the campus life experience with unique spaces for mind, body, and spirit. 
  6. Promote integrated, efficient and accessible mobility. 
  7. Celebrate the unique campus landscape and public realm as an environmental resource and social amenity. 
  8. Embrace a holistic approach to sustainable systems that integrates the environment, economics, social equity, and aesthetics. 
  9. Support the University’s mission for service and outreach through the development of strategic collaboration areas.

Millennial Campus Districts 

The UNC System’s strategic plan, Higher Expectations, calls for campuses to identify and highlight their areas of academic distinction by creating Millennial Campus Districts, an initiative designed to facilitate public-private partnerships for new academic opportunities, community services, and economic development projects. The Districts are intended to facilitate university and community interactions in ways that are physically, economically and culturally interwoven with the community. In response, UNC Greensboro has two new campus districts:

  1. Health and Wellness – UNC Greensboro has numerous academic programs focused on health and wellness in the School of Health and Human Sciences, the School of Nursing, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Education. These programs are supported in the Campus Plan in a proposed Health and Wellness Millennial District, a technology hub promoting innovation in health and wellness related research. 
  2. Visual and Performing Arts – UNC Greensboro has the largest College of Visual and Performing Arts in North Carolina, offering programs in Art, Dance, Music, Theater, and Arts Administration and in the Weatherspoon Museum. The Visual and Performing Arts Millennial District is dedicated to supporting these programs.

The Campus Plan takes into consideration the broader planning context including the location of the campus within the City of Greensboro and surrounding neighborhoods. It also responds to local zoning guidance and planning initiatives. In particular, the Campus Plan provides specific recommendations designed to contribute to the West Gate City Boulevard “Smart Corridor” initiative. 

 In keeping with the values of the University, the Campus Plan promotes a sustainable approach to campus development. In doing so, it addresses the equitable, environmental, economic and aesthetic dimensions of sustainability in terms of the analysis conducted and the recommendations provided. 

  • Equity – the Campus Plan supports UNC Greensboro’s mission to be an inclusive learner-centered institution that serves a more diverse student body. It addresses issues of equity by supporting the University’s ongoing strategy for improving accessibility and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at both the building and site level. 
  • Environmental – the Campus Plan promotes conservation of natural areas such as Peabody Park and the protection of the Buffalo Creek branches that flow through the Park. It also supports emissions reduction targets by focusing on transportation demand management and promoting online and hybrid learning. 
  • Economic – The Campus Plan supports the energy and emissions reduction goals set by the State and UNC System by promoting energy efficiency and the utilization of renewable sources of energy. It also supports UNC Greensboro’s goal of providing affordable education to its diverse student body. 
  • Aesthetics – the Campus Plan promotes place making both indoors and outdoors, to ensure a healthy and welcoming environment conducive to learning and working.

For more information contact Greg Havens.

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