Urban Design and College Campuses

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.

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