Archive for March, 2007

Texas Style Ping Pong

“Texas Style” ping pong with UNC’s Tyler Hansbrough and Bobby Frasor.

In December 2004, James Madison University (JMU) and Rockingham Memorial Hospital (RMH) made a deal that would allow JMU to purchase the old RMH hospital. The agreement stated that JMU could use the old facility once the new RMH hospital on Port Republic Road was opened. The $50.6 million purchase was approved by the JMU Board of Visitors, the RMH Board of Directors, and Virginia General Assembly. JMU President Linwood H. Rose has said that the property will likely be used as a combination of academic space, administrative office space, student services and parking. The hospital’s two parking decks contain more than 1,000 spaces, and the additional parking would help JMU with its current parking needs.

I haven’t heard any concrete plans for the old hospital facility, so I thought I would share some ideas.
Keep Current RMH Facilities for…

  • Medical or dental school – the University would have to seek approval for these programs
  • Research center for biology/medicine/biotechnology
  • Student housing – although the idea of living in an old operating room does not appeal to me
  • Law school – again the University would have to seek approval from the state for this program
  • Offices for faculty and university employees

Demolish RMH and Build…

  • Basketball Arena – I know we have the Convo, but I really think we need a new facility (and new coach)
  • On-campus arboretum
  • New dormitory
  • Mixed-Use building – offices, classrooms, student housing, dining facilities
  • Student Center – computer labs, study rooms, cafe, activity room, fitness equipment

In September 2004 Rockingham Memorial Hospital (RMH) announced plans to build a new hospital and health campus at Harman farm in Rockingham County. Harman farm is located at the intersection of Reservoir Street and Port Republic Road, and RMH has plans to build $280 million facility on the 254 acre site.

RMH employed Earl Swensson Associates, Inc. to design the facility, and Bovis Lend Lease will be in charge of constructing the 600,000 square foot facility. The new RMH will feature 238 beds, a rehabilitation/fitness center, a cancer center, a nature preserve, and state-of-the art medical technology. Currently, RMH officials are working with a group from JMU to create a farm on the hospital’s campus that would serve organic foods to the hospital and surrounding community. Construction has already begun, and the facility should be completed by 2010.

The new RMH facility is very impressive, and I was pleased to see that is a Green facility — the new facility will be sited, designed, constructed, operated and maintained with the goal of sustaining and caring for the natural environment. RMH has registered to pursue certification of its green building efforts with the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System.

RMH planners will try to…

  • Limit the use of products that emit volatile organic compounds (i.e. paint, flooring, adhesives, furnishings and cleaning supplies)
  • Use energy efficient equipment, including lighting
  • Use efficient heating and cooling systems
  • Preserve as much of the surrounding land as possible, including nearby wetlands
  • Control storm water runoff
  • Purchase materials within a 500-mile radius of the hospital
  • Recycle products
  • Properly dispose hazardous materials
  • Limit noise, water, and air pollution

If RMH receives certification, it will be the first hospital in the state and one of the first in the nation to receive such a certification.

Roundabouts

A roundabout is a circular intersection that uses geometric features to slow traffic and safely direct vehicles in multiple directions. A roundabout consists of a circular roadway that wraps around a central island, and this physical configuration forces drivers to reduce speed during the approach, entry, and movement within the roundabout.

The design of the roundabout depends on the road’s specifications. The general rule of thumb is that roundabouts with large central islands (150-200 feet in diameter) are best suited for roads with a high traffic volume and speed limit. Smaller roundabouts (50-100 feet) are best suited for residential areas with a low traffic flow and speed limit.

Generally, roundabouts are safer than traditional intersections. Studies have shown that roundabouts have 40% fewer vehicle collisions, 80% fewer injuries and 90% fewer serious injuries and fatalities. Roundabouts are also preferred by some traffic engineers because they often have shorter delays and queues than intersections with traffic lights.

The first modern roundabout was constructed in Paris around the Arc de Triomphe in 1901, and the first one in the US was Columbus Circle which was built in New York City in 1904.

In today’s Daily News Record, Jeff Mellot reported that Harrisonburg’s City Council is expected to consider ways to help residents combat speeders on Chestnut Drive and ease parking problems on neighborhood streets. Chestnut Street runs parallel to South High Street / Route 42, and it is located near Memorial Hall. Many residents along Chestnut Street and the surrounding areas are blaming JMU students for the parking and speeding problems currently plaguing the nearby neighborhoods. These residents want the City Council to mandate parking permits and increase the number of stop signs to calm traffic.

I have several thoughts on the situation.

1. JMU is a parking nightmare: JMU is experiencing a parking crisis. When students and faculty members travel to campus, the majority of them drive their automobiles. JMU has numerous parking lots and garages, but it seems that the parking situation only gets worse and worse. Before classes students circle around the lots like sharks waiting for someone to leave their space. JMU has an excellent bus system, but students ignore mass transit because of the availability of on-campus parking and parking permits.

The situation on Chestnut Drive is an example of this parking crisis. Memorial Hall is located off of the main campus, and many students are forced to drive or take the bus to attend their classes. The parking limitations at Memorial Hall have forced students to look to surrounding neighborhoods for their parking needs.

I think that this crisis could be alleviated via a number of different ways:

  • Limit the number of parking permits issued – It’s too easy to obtain a parking permit. JMU parking services should only give permits to students that satisfy certain criteria (e.g. 3.0 GPA, upperclassmen)
  • Limit the number of parking spaces – Contrary to popular belief, new parking spaces only make the parking situation worse. When new lots and garages are constructed, the desire to drive to campus increases and more people drive to campus.
  • Place Emphasis on Bus System – JMU’s transit system is reliable and easy, but very few off-campus residents take the bus.
  • Limit off-campus expansions – reduce the need for parking and driving

2. There are multiple ways to eliminate speeding:

  • Add stop signs and traffic signals
  • Narrow road widths
  • Provide on street parking
  • Introduce irregular parking patterns (e.g. roundabout, fork in the road)


3. Are JMU students really speeding on Chestnut Drive? Chestnut Drive is located behind Memorial Hall, and I can’t imagine that many JMU students travel along that road. Chestnut Drive is not a major road, and it does not lead towards campus or any of the popular off-campus residences. This situation makes me wonder if Chestnut residents are using JMU students as scapegoats because of the negative relationship between the University and the community. In recent past JMU used eminent domain to knock down local businesses and expand campus, and these actions aggravated the local community. Furthermore, many residents view JMU students are drunken, irresponsible party animals.

However, it is entirely possible that students are using Chestnut Drive as a shortcut and speeding across it, and this situation demonstrates the need for JMU to exercise caution when they interact with the Harrisonburg community.

On This Day…

Events
1513 – Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León first sighted Florida while searching for the Fountain of Youth in the New World.

1775 – Thomas Jefferson elected to the Continental Congress

1794 – The United States Navy was established.

1871 – First international rugby football match, England v. Scotland, played in Edinburgh at Raeburn Place.

1912 – Japanese cherry trees planted along the Potomac River in Washington, D.C.

1939 – Oregon won the first NCAA men’s basketball tournament with a 46-33 victory over Ohio State in Evanston, Ill

1976 – The first 4.6 miles of the Washington, DC subway system is opened.

1998 – Food and Drug Administration approves Viagra

Births
785 – King Louis XVII of France
1863 – Sir Henry Royce, designer of the Rolls Royce
1963 – Randall Cunningham, NFL football player
1963 – Quentin Tarantino
1970 – Mariah Carey
1975 – Stacy “Fergie” Ferguson of the Black Eyed Peas

Enjoy March 27, it’s the most glorious day of the year.

My Trip to UNC

This past weekend I attended an Open House at UNC Chapel Hill for the Department of City and Regional Planning (DCRP). Anticipating an assortment of questions, I’ve decided to provide you a detailed time line of my trip.

Thursday
2:51 PM My trip began. I traveled south down Interstate 81 to Lexington to take a “shortcut” to Route 29
3:43 PM Got off at Exit 188 in Lexington and got on Route 60 East
3:53 PM Arrived in Buena Vista and got on Route 501
4:10 PM Route 501 was a bad idea. The movie Wrong Turn kept popping into my head — you know the movie where five teenagers make a wrong turn in West Virginia and get attacked by mutants. Oh dear.
4:48 PM Finally made it to Route 29. No mutants. I’m not going that way on the way back. Next up, Route 86 in North Carolina
6:11 PM Crossed the North Carolina state border and Route 29 turned into 86
7:33 PM Arrived in Chapel Hill.
First Impression: Historic downtown; beautiful weather; lots of shops, restaurants, and bars; everything within walking distance of the campus and off-campus housing
7:45 PM Met Corey, the First Year DCRP Graduate student I was going to staying with
7:46 PM – 1:00 AM Went to Franklin Street to go to bars, meet DCRP students, and watch basketball
Highlights:
-Went to He’s Not Here, a bar with an outdoor patio that was formerly a strip club in the 1960s. When it was a strip club, female students would call the club and ask if their boyfriends were there, and the owners would always reply “He’s Not Here” regardless if the boyfriend was there or not.
-Talked to Law student from the University of Kansas, and he discussed KU’s hatred of Roy Williams (UNC’s current coach that left Kansas to coach at UNC)

Friday

10:31 AM Woke up to the beautiful sound of Carolina birds. Sike.
11:12 AM Walked to campus with fellow DCRP prospective student, Jeff
Impressions of Campus: Nice landscaping, a lot of students walking around, awesome landmarks (The Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower, the Old Well, and Silent Sam statue), and beautiful brick buildings
11:30 AM Checked in at New East Building on the old quad, home of DCRP program
11:45 – 12:45 PM Lunch at Hickerson House – met with DCRP students and ate sandwiches with abnormally large pieces of lettuce
1:00 – 2:15 PM Individual introductions with 85 people (prospective students and faculty). Only 5 of the prospective students were current undergrads (including myself).
2:15 – 3:30 PM DCRP program overview
3:30 – 4:00 PM I wandered aimlessly around campus on my own. I saw the Old Well and its drinking fountain. Legend has it that if you drink from the fountain you will be on the Dean’s List. However, I didn’t drink from the fountain because Corey told me everyone pees in it.
4:00-5:45 PM Listened to Current Students and Alumni
6:30 PM BBQ Time at a Second Year DCRP student’s house: Burgers, Hot Dogs, Pasta Salad, Yuengling Keg, Vodka, Bourbon, Professors, 1st and 2nd years, and prospective students
9:57 PM Game Time: The USC – UNC game was projected onto a wall with a LCD projector, and everyone busted out their favorite Carolina blue gear
10:06 PM UNC came out flat, and Taj Holden and Nick Young dominated for USC.
11:01 PM UNC was down at halftime. I drank more beer.
11:25 PM UNC started the second half pretty slow, and went down by 16 points. Someone yelled, “Damnit Roy! Take off your jacket. Let’s get fired up! Let’s GO!”
11:30 PM Marcus Ginyard and Brandan Wright took over the game, and after several offensive rebounds, dunks, and defensive takeovers, UNC took the lead. Someone else yelled, “I’m naming my first child Marcus — boy or girl.”
12:06 AM UNC won 74-64. Prince’s “Party like its 1999” was blasted, and the party started.
1:30 AM Bedtime

Saturday
10:29 AM Woke up.
10:57 AM Hit the Road with Jeff, prospective student from Chicago/Milwaukee. For some reason he took the AmTrak from Chicago to Charlottesville, then proceeded to take a Greyhound bus from Charlottesville to Durham. So, to help him save time and money I offered to drive him to Charlottesville.
1:03 PM Stopped in Altavista, Va, and ate at Pino’s Italian Restaurant- At first the place looked conspicuous, but it was a nice little restaurant and I had a delicious Stromboli
4:11 PM Dropped Jeff off in Charlottesville
5:14 PM Arrived back in Harrisonburg

The Washington D.C. Metro’s new Silver Line will link D.C. to Dulles International Airport, Tysons Corner, Reston and Herndon. The current plan is to construct a rail from Route 772 in Loudoun County to the Stadium-Armory metro stop — this metro stop services RFK Stadium. Overall, the line will service 29 stations, and 18 of those stations are currently part of the Orange and Blue lines. The East Falls Church stop will serve as the transfer point for the Orange and Silver lines, and 11 new stations will be constructed between the transfer point and Route 772.

The method of construction through the Tysons Corner area has generated much debate — tunnel vs. above ground. In the end, plans were made to build elevated rail above ground because estimates for the tunnel construction were considered “too high.” The full line is expected to be completed by 2015.

www.firedeankeaner.com

The University of Iowa has come up with a proactive method for fighting Web sites built to criticize its coaches by buying domain names. To prevent fans and bloggers from trashing their coaches, University of Iowa officials purchased seven domain names, including firekirkferentz.com (FYI: Kirk Ferentz is the football coach), in order to keep them off the market. The school also purchased the domain names for potential sites about women’s basketball coach Lisa Bluder, men’s basketball coach Steve Alford and athletic director Gary Barta. The initial purchase costs of the sites was $674.82, and each site costs $25 a year to maintain.

I wonder if JMU will purchase domain names for their current basketball coach, Dean Keaner. Coach Keaner hasn’t won more than 7 games in a season in his three year stint, and many critics have said that next year could be his last. Don’t hold your breath Dean, I don’t think that JMU’s athletic department could afford the $674.82 to purchase the sites, and the annual cost of $25 a year to maintain them.

The traditional college campus embodies many of the elements of new urbanism.

Mixed use – An example of this is the quad. Generally the quad is the heart of the campus, and center of student life. The Quad and the buildings around it usually host dormitories, classrooms, offices, public meeting places, and dining facilities. In fact, many campus buildings are mix-use buildings that contain students, professors, and university employees.

Walkability – College campuses are designed around the pedestrian, and campuses have to be pedestrian friendly because many students do not have access to automobiles. Lowerclassmen (and some upplerclassmen) live on campus and have to walk to get to class, the gym, or a dining hall. College campuses are designed so that students never have to leave campus — food, clothing, and entertainment are all within a short walk of a student’s living quarters.

High density buildings – Colleges have dormitories, apartments, and office buildings that house a large number of students, faculty, and employees.

Mass transit – Since a lot of students do not have access to automobiles and many of them travel to the same destinations, most universities have buses that shuttle students around campus. Furthermore, many urban campuses are located near metro/subway stops.

Attractive/simplistic architecture – Colleges make a concerned effort to maintain a certain architectural style with their campus buildings. Generally, each building is constructed enhance the quality of the campus, yet blend in with the other buildings.

Public meeting places – The quad, dining facilities, the football stadium, basketball arena, student center, library, chapel, etc. are all places for students to meet one another and engage in educational and social activities.

Colleges and universities have taken the initiative to maintain their close-knit and vibrant communities. Many universities have “university planners” that concentrate solely on planning the school’s campus. These people oversee the expansion of the school, and work to maintain the campus’ ambiance.
Additionally, emerging colleges and universities looking to expand or renovate their campuses have hired urban design firms to help design attractive and functional communities. For example, Barry University(Port St. Lucie, FL), Hendrix College (Conway, AR), and St. Thomas University (Miami, FL) hired Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company to design their campuses.

Schools are constantly working to maintain their campuses because students want to attend schools that are vibrant, beautiful, and possess a strong sense of place.