206 University Policies and Procedures

206.02 Campus Master Plan Principles

Georgia State University is on the move. Guided by a new Strategic Plan, Georgia State continues to pursue a leading position among the nation's premier state-supported urban universities through excellence in instruction, research and service.

The Strategic Plan sets forward two closely related initiatives. The first initiative will "encourage, develop and sustain nationally competitive research, scholarship, and creative activity . . . and . . . maintain and develop nationally competitive instructional programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. . . . In this way the University will become known as a major research institution that offers advanced undergraduate, graduate, and professional instruction of the highest quality in carefully selected areas of central educational importance, strong societal need, and high student interest." The second initiative is the quest for academic distinctiveness which "will be accomplished by the strategic utilization of resources in areas of programmatic strength, and by taking maximum advantage of the urban setting whereby major attention and resources are devoted to issues confronting contemporary life."

Georgia State recognizes that a thriving university and vibrant downtown are interdependent. With a clear vision for itself and a strong commitment to establish partnership with its community, Georgia State is developing a new master plan to take it into the 21st century, a plan which will provide for the university's future, join the institution with its downtown neighbors, and enhance its value to the surrounding city.

The principles of the Campus Master Plan described below capitalize on the advantages of an urban location, enabling the university to seize unique opportunities for development when they arise. The plan, therefore, emphasizes urban design principles and guidelines which support the university's strategic plan, rather than specific projections or projects.

The Platform Campus - A Prior Solution

Georgia State continues to grow from its origins as a small downtown college largely oriented to business education to a major research university. In the 1960s, as the school moved toward university status, plans for a defined Georgia State University campus were developed for the first time. That original master plan evolved through the following decades into a powerful vision for the campus--but one very different from that which guides the university today.

Georgia State's location in the Central Business District of a major city precluded building a traditional campus around a large, central green space. But campus planners desired to create an identifiable campus that would provide refuge from city noise and traffic--situated in town, yet separated from it. The solution was to build a campus above the city, placing it on a platform.

Utilizing bridges and plazas to connect university buildings, the platform concept successfully reinforced the identity of the institution and facilitated the movement of students and faculty through their daily activities.

The Need for Change

The university's success, however, brought its own challenges. The platform design limited campus growth to contiguous buildings or areas. As enrollment grew, the university soon ran out of available adjacent land. Consequently, Georgia State began to acquire buildings that were not contiguous to campus and convert them to useable facilities.

The first departure from the platform plan actually occurred as early as 1982, when Georgia State acquired the Title Building at 30 Pryor Street. Since then, Georgia State has occupied the building at One Park Place South and acquired the building at 35 Broad Street, expanding into the heart of the Central Business District and moving farther away from the principle of a contiguous platform campus.

Georgia State has developed the Rialto Center for the Performing Arts in the Fairlie-Poplar District. It serves as one of the most visible symbols of the institution's new relationship with downtown. In addition, the nearby Standard and Haas Howell buildings houses the institution's School of Music. Such developments demonstrate a clear need for a new approach to master planning. Georgia State University no longer exists only as an enclave, isolated within the city. It is becoming an important and active resident of the Fairlie-Poplar District and downtown Atlanta.

Although the resulting checkerboard footprint has met some of the university's needs for additional facilities, it has revived some of the same concerns that the platform was designed to address: campus identity, security, and ease of movement for the university community. Georgia State has developed a new vision which addresses these challenges by way of integration rather than isolation.

Support for Change

Georgia State's new vision is supported by significant environmental changes. Only 20 years ago, Atlanta's Central Business District, centered at Five Points, was the economic, cultural and entertainment hub of the entire region. Today, it is one of many specialized employment and cultural concentrations in the metro region, such as the Airport, Buckhead and Perimeter Center.

Downtown Atlanta does have several thriving but isolated enclaves including Peachtree Center, the World Congress Center, the federal, state and local government centers, and Underground Atlanta. Five Points, the geographic center of downtown, and its neighbor, the Fairlie-Poplar District, have buildings that are vacant or partially occupied, presenting important opportunities for the future of down and the university.

The 1996 Centennial Olympic Games stimulated significant improvements in the Central Business District and advancements for the university. Included are the construction of the Olympic Village Residence Halls, the redesign and rebuilding of Woodruff Park, the design and construction of Centennial Olympic Park, and major sidewalk and landscape improvements on Peachtree Street and Auburn Avenue. These streetscape and infrastructure improvements, carried out by the Corporation for Olympic Development in Atlanta, provide a model for pleasant connections between the existing campus core and Georgia State's newly acquired and future buildings in the Fairlie-Poplar district.

In addition to these improvements, the Olympic Games stimulated private development in the area, and many developers are seeking ways to extend the life of their investments beyond 1996. This activity creates a climate in which Georgia State can join with the City of Atlanta and others entities to bring lasting benefits to all concerned. These conditions also provide a unique opportunity for Georgia State University to grow and prosper as an urban institution.

An Urban Design Vision: Principles for Georgia State University Master Planning

The new campus master planning principles are based on an urban design vision that blends Georgia State's properties and activities into a vigorous downtown Atlanta. City blocks, streets, sidewalks and parks supplement the elevated pedestrian bridges and plazas of the previous campus plan.

Fairlie-Poplar, the historic center of downtown, with its small blocks, narrow streets and older and architecturally interesting buildings, possesses character unlike any other place in the metro-Atlanta area. It is this distinguishing character that provides the foundation for a colorful, inviting, prosperous and identifiable neighborhood to be built in the heart of town.

Following the principles enumerated below, Georgia State will plan for its expansion within the Atlanta Central Business District in ways that meet its educational mission, preserve the historic character of the heart of the City, and support the economic and social viability of the downtown area.

Principle 1: Integrate institutional buildings and their use into the city environment. Locate Georgia State's academic, administrative and related activities in suitable space in the Fairlie-Poplar and Five Points District.

Principle 2: Use existing and planned structures to help define and connect the institution's spaces. Use existing and planned sidewalks, streets, blocks and parks to connect Georgia State's buildings and spaces to each other and to important sources of current or future pedestrian traffic to and from Georgia State.

Principle 3: Use housing opportunities to attract the population necessary to create a viable community. Encourage downtown housing for students and artists and other professionals in both new and rehabilitated buildings in Fairlie-Poplar and Sweet Auburn.

Principle 4: Support transportation patterns that encourage pedestrian traffic and enhance the safety and convenience of Georgia State students, faculty and staff. Use future parking, the Georgia State shuttle and existing public transit strategically to increase and direct pedestrian traffic near Georgia State University.

Georgia State University's new Campus Master Plan Principles are a dramatic statement about the model urban university of the 21st century, one that reflects a new dynamic for Georgia State as it works toward its twin goals of greater national prominence and enhanced community relevance. At the same time that it pursues its central missions of excellence and distinctiveness in the academic enterprise, the university has the opportunity to take leadership in building a viable, spirited urban neighborhood, one that is alive with intellectual, artistic and commercial activity day and night.

(Approved by the University Senate Planning and Development Committee, 10/19/95)
(Approved by the University Senate, 11/2/95)