The planning process for the Cal State Fullerton campus physical master plan is currently underway with the final draft expected to be completed by 2020. Some key issues the plan may address include parking, outdated buildings and campus amenities.
The physical master plan will provide the university with a guideline of needed improvements to campus framework. Mandated by the California State University system, the plan allows the university to accommodate a growing student body and meet the academic needs of students, faculty and staff.
Architects, engineers, consultants and planners held a public forum at the Clayes Performing Arts Center on Thursday to ask the campus community about their visions for the master plan.
Planners encouraged visitors to take an online survey, write personalized Post-it notes or place stickers on informational poster signs to express specific concerns and proposals.
“We are at the early stages of this project. We are listening, asking good questions about what works on campus and what doesn’t work on campus,” said John Gibbs, principal at Wallace Roberts & Todd, a planning and design firm in San Francisco. “We’re trying to make sense of all that, and that’s where we need feedback from the campus community.”
The last time a master plan was completed for the university was in 2003. Since then, the full-time equivalent student enrollment number has increased by about 8,000.
Most guests at the forum indicated with stickers that 24/7 access to healthy and affordable food options and other campus amenities would keep them on campus longer.
Several Post-it notes iterated the idea of expanding and integrating aspects of the arboretum into student life. Others expressed interest in replicating the recent renovation of the Titan Student Union into other campus spaces.
“We really want to understand what kind of spaces — like the character and personality of a physical space on campus — that a student would want,” said Kim Swanson, Flad Architects project manager. “We have found that retention on campus is creating opportunities for people to learn and collaborate a lot more than if they go home at the end of their last class.”
Post-it notes are available for the CSUF community to write their own ideas and concerns about campus space and design. There is also an online survey that students, faculty and staff can fill out. pic.twitter.com/v0jeOUj4oU
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Founded in 1957, CSUF still has a handful of existing buildings that are about 50 to 60 years old, in poor conditions and severely overused, according to the forum’s informational displays.
The Clayes Performing Arts Center, McCarthy Hall and the Pollak Library are all buildings that were constructed between 1960 and 1969.
Lesley Aguirre, a CSUF student majoring in theatre arts, said she believes the quality of campus infrastructure has a direct impact on students’ academic experiences.
“I feel like some of our buildings are older and they need to be updated,” Aguirre said. “They have classrooms that are very old and it doesn’t function very well with the students, and it hinders their learning abilities.”
Brad Leathley, principal architect with Flad Architects, said when the campus was originally designed buildings were built with different ambitions, and as a result different learning experiences were developed. The master plan will help prioritize the need to replace or renovate existing structures, he said.
“There are several places around campus that are probably really ripe for making more dense, and maybe even some buildings that are really outdated coming down, making way for new buildings to go in,” Leathley said. “When we get that far, we’ll have a better idea of how difficult that is.”
A clothesline with note cards attached hung low for visitors to pin recommendations about improving campus transportation. Some read, “Need more parking structures” and “Trolley system from train to campus.”
“Parking is always an issue. I get here at 6:30 in the morning every day before all of the other crazy parking because I don’t like dealing with that,” Aguirre said.
According to the display, garage parking takes up more space than buildings and costs about $40,000 per space to build. One parking garage could accommodate 500 student housing units.
“We definitely want to make parking convenient and we also need to be cognizant of the trade-offs on that,” said Lauren Mattern, principal at Nelson/Nygaard transportation consultants. “Cars sit parked 90 percent or more of the time right now. Cars are a huge part of how we get around and they’re also pretty inefficient.”
Mattern said as more driving technology develops, like self-driving vehicles and mobile delivery services, there could be an impact on overall parking demand. Ultimately, sustainable alternatives for transportation and other initiatives are being explored and considered in the process of compiling the master plan, according to the displays.
The challenges ahead
Once the master plan is finalized, the final draft plan will go through a lengthy process of review required by the state of California. An environmental committee will evaluate the plan’s environmental impact and finally it will go to the CSU board of trustees to get approved for funding.
The CSUF community is encouraged to submit feedback about the master plan on the CSUF website. Gibbs said there will also be another forum held again in the fall.
“Funding from the state of California has declined drastically over the years. We are doing more with less,” Gibbs said. “It’s really important that as we are looking at a vision for the next 10 years that we are really clear about what our priorities are and are really creative about how to find more opportunities to make these changes.”