Cultivating a no-growth master plan
Melissa Ezarik
18 September 2020

The process of plotting the future of a college campus can conclude with a plan that doesn’t involve adding physical spaceā€”and that’s ok, experts say.

The idea of campus master planning seems to go hand in hand with growth, but a desire for environmental sustainability and a need for fiscal sustainability can also equate to a master plan that optimizes what’s already there and expansion that’s virtual rather than physical.

As he completed the master planning process with one state’s college and university system a few years ago, architect and strategic advisor Mike Aziz says that some institutions, mainly community colleges, “ended up with no net new space.”

But that doesn’t mean the colleges are in trouble. “It wasn’t that they weren’t evolving as an institution,” explains Aziz, AIA and LEED AP, who is a partner at the New York City-based firm Cooper Robertson. “Evolution is fundamental to higher education. It’s where ingenuity is born in many ways.” But an objective look at enrollment projections led officials to realize they don’t need more space.

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