KU seeks community input at master plan forum

How best to handle expansion on the Kansas University campus was the topic of a community forum Wednesday evening.

Jim Modig, director of design and construction management, said the forum was an opportunity for the university to gather input from the community on KU’s 10-year master plan. Major concerns expressed at the forum were the need for biking and walking paths, improved accessibility and how to keep the main campus and West Campus connected.

Scott Miller, an architect with Norfolk, Va.-based consulting firm Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas and Co., said that one of the main goals of the university is to improve science-based facilities. The problem, he said, is that the area these buildings now occupy on the main campus has little room for any new construction. One solution would be to move science buildings to West Campus near the pharmacy and research buildings. However, this could divide the campus even more and create an inconvenience for students who have classes on both campuses. Miller offered another solution, to condense the Stouffer Place apartment complex to about half its current footprint and expand science classrooms to that area. The apartments are on the southwest corner of the main campus, at 19th and Iowa streets, and Miller said this idea would provide a better flow from the research facilities on West Campus through science buildings on 19th Street and into the main campus.

Jane Huesemann, a Lawrence-based architect, said that providing better accessibility for students with disabilities is another major concern of the master plan. “We want to make sure the plan provides accessibility across all of campus,” she said.

Huesemann said a handicapped-accessible path through campus that can be used 24 hours a day was a major point of discussion. In addition, the master plan would like to design an easy, flat path from West Campus through the main campus that all students can use.

Laura Routh, chairwoman of the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods, said she attended the forum because LAN is concerned about how campus developments will affect the neighborhoods adjacent to campus.

“Rental properties and increased parking can cause problems for single family (homes) near campus,” she said.

Rebecca Jacobs, a junior at KU and member of the student group Environs, said the group was concerned with sustainablilty, improved bike and walking paths to campus, and the use of natural space. Jacobs suggested the school plant more native plants.

Anyone who couldn’t make it to Wednesday’s forum but wants to offer input on the master planning process can email the Design and Construction Management office at kudcm@ku.edu. More information on the master plan is available online at dcm.ku.edu/campus-master-plan.