Campus Planning

Update 2008: Master Plan Workshops

October 23-24

Update 2008

Topics of Discussion:
Planning Process and General Information

bullet What is the purpose of the Master Plan?
The Master Plan provides guidelines for the physical development of the campus.  The Master Plan does not set direction or priorities for development.  Instead, it responds to, and assists in fulfilling the mission and goals of the university.  A successful master plan provides years of continuity in planning, which contributes to a well-built and functional environment. 

Having a roadmap for development that looks ahead ten, twenty, or thirty years allows the institution to plan for the future while building for the present.  For example, future road or building sites can be protected, and infrastructure for future projects may be included in current or near-future projects.

bullet How are planning and construction decisions made?  Can the Master Plan require or enforce specific behaviors or practices, such as how to handle stormwater runoff?
bullet Are green design and sustainable practices required by the Master Plan?
The Master Plan guides decision-making and sets directions for the physical development of the campus.  The Fundamental Concepts assist planners in weighing and evaluating options.  Unlike the regulations and codes that govern construction and facility maintenance, the Master Plan does not provide specific solutions to an issue or situation.  These decisions are made during the planning and design of a project, so that the best solution for that particular time and place may be selected.

The university is committed to practicing sustainable design on campus, and the State of Michigan requires LEED certification on all capital building projects.

bullet Does the university include the city or the state in planning discussions?
Government and/or regulatory agencies are usually consulted or involved very early in the planning process.  For example, the university has already had discussions with Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) about improvements to Stadium Drive, such as a boulevard between Howard and Oliver Streets, even though any official project would be years in the future.

bullet What is the role of the WMU Foundation in master planning?
The WMU Foundation provides assistance to the university to achieve its mission and accomplish projects.  It does not take part in master planning.

bullet What is the space utilization on campus?  Is there extra capacity?
Discounting the buildings that have been taken off-line because of substandard conditions, there is about 95% occupancy of existing offices and classrooms.  Space is at a premium and has been for many years, which makes accommodating new programs or program expansion very difficult.  It is ironic that the university remains at such a high occupancy despite all the new construction over the past decade.  Much of the new construction merely replaced inadequate or substandard facilities, but there was also a backlog of demand for classroom and office space, and new technology and research needs have increased the space demand as well.

It is harder to define capacity for campus housing.  The existing campus housing stock was built in the 50’s and 60’s, and housed over 6,000 students.  However, what was a satisfactory room for two in 1950 is now closer to the standard room for one.  In light of this, campus residents now have a choice between the traditional double occupancy rooms or “super single” rooms.  Consequently, a residence hall with a maximum occupancy of 300 beds in 1955 may have a more realistic maximum occupancy of 200 beds in 2008.  Meeting President Dunn's goal of increasing the number of students living on campus AND providing more modern housing accommodations will require more housing stock than currently exists on campus.

bullet How does the university deal with obsolete buildings?
There are two related but different problems with old buildings:  functional obsolescence and structural deficiencies. 

A degraded or deficient structure is expensive to maintain and creates life and safety problems.  Current fire codes and standards for barrier-free access and environmental quality are not met.  Maintenance and energy expenses far exceed the average due to constant repairs and poorly functioning, outdated equipment.  At some point the structure must be renovated or removed, the decision based in part on the relative total cost of the two options and in part on the options for re-use of the facility or the building site.  In the case of the East Campus buildings, institutional pride and heritage are also important factors.

On the other hand, functional obsolescence may occur in a perfectly maintained and operating building if the activities that occur in it can only be done inadequately or with compensating behaviors.  For example, if a curriculum requires a laptop for every student and two projection displays for effective content delivery, the facility must have sufficient electrical and data capacity, ceilings high enough for projection displays that everyone can see, zoned lighting for darkening the room in one area and lighting it in another, and enough desk space for every student to have room to use their laptop.  Each of these features adds to the total amount of space needed for a well-functioning classroom, and the standard technology needed for today's classroom far exceeds that for classrooms built before 1990, or even 2000.  Remediating these issues can be done on a room-to-room basis but more often requires major building renovation to adequately provide the infrastructure to support the additional space, technology and energy requirements.

bullet What are the actual boundaries of WMU property?
Links to campus maps are below.  WMU property has a colored background; non-campus property has a white background.

bullet The 2000 Master Plan recommends using bridges to connect campus areas.  Where are the proposed bridges located?
The bridges proposed in the Master Plan are intended to connect the campuses and provide access to all the campuses without resorting to the city streets.  One of the proposed bridges would span Stadium Drive, physically connecting Oakland Drive Campus with West Campus, and another would span Oakland Drive near the Little Theatre.  In addition to making inter-campus circulation simpler by avoiding traffic lights and street congestion, the bridge over Stadium Drive would also eliminate the inconvenience caused by the train tracks.


Planning Division of Facilities Management; Mail #5313
Western Michigan University
1903 W. Michigan Ave.
Kalamazoo MI 49008 USA
(269) 387-8543 or 387-8544 | (269) 387-8818 Fax


Shipping Address:
Planning Division; Facilities Management
Campus Services Building

1201 Oliver Street

Kalamazoo, MI  49008