Nia Tariq, News Editor
The most recent draft of the VCU master plan will be presented to students on Sept. 17 and 18 for feedback.
The plan, called ONE VCU, is guided by VCU’s Quest 2025: Together We Transform strategic plan and VCU Health’s Vision by Design strategic plan, according to Director of Communications for VCU Administration Carolyn Conlon.
Meredith Weiss, vice president for VCU Administration, said the BOV has been regularly briefed on the progress of the master plan since the process began last fall. A presentation of the draft plan was scheduled to be given to the BOV on Friday, but has been rescheduled due to inclement weather warnings. The final plan, however, is scheduled to be completed and presented to the BOV in December for approval.
The master plan identifies which facilities are needed to support the strategic visions of the university and VCU Health System, which is why Weiss said it is important for students to take an interest in the plan.
“For the master planning process to be successful, it is vital that we hear from all university stakeholders — most importantly our students,” Weiss said. “It is important that we hear from students throughout this process to make sure that we are providing the types of facilities that you need and want.”
Two examples of ONE VCU implementations can be seen in the construction of a new Engineering Research Building and the updated crosswalks to be placed throughout campus.
The Engineering Research Building was proposed in the 2004 VCU master plan and construction will be completed in 2020. The building will include new construction of research laboratories and related support space, career services, a collaboration hub, makerspace and a vivarium — an enclosure for keeping animals and plants and studying ecosystems — Weiss said.
The crosswalks at Linden Street and Floyd Avenue on the Monroe Park campus at 12th Street between Broad and Marshall streets are the product of the university working with the city of Richmond to increase safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, while still accommodating vehicular travel, according to Weiss.
A Front Doors Committee was created to identify and confirm VCU’s “front doors” — locations that are hubs for people arriving on campus. According to Weiss, the components identified by the committee for defining the front doors include improving intersections, landscape and streetscape elements and architecture.
Students can provide more feedback at the upcoming open houses to preview the draft. The draft plan will also be posted to the VCU master plan website with provisions for feedback for students who are unable to attend the sessions.
“We are committed to a collaborative and inclusive process,” Weiss said. “These sessions are an important opportunity for the community to share ideas and offer feedback.”
Urban institutions like VCU with limited space and resources, Weiss said, have to be intentional in their growth, the framework for which come from master plans.
“Whether realized or not, everyone on campus is impacted by one of the master plans that has been conducted over the 50 years since VCU was formed,” Weiss said. “The dorm that you live in, the library that you study in, the classroom that you learn in, the recreational facility that you exercise in; at some point each of those facilities was a concept in a master plan that has since been made real.”