What are our strengths and our issues?
In conducting this capacity study, we looked at many aspects of the Newark campus to assess its current strengths and challenges. From its geographic setting near major metropolitan areas and highways, to its diversity of land resources and beautiful historic core that serves as the iconic center, the campus has numerous advantages. But, just as there are physical challenges to the campus, there also are academic and social challenges that parallel them. These include the roads and train tracks that separate the major areas of activity and limit the cohesiveness of the campus.
Here are some of the questions we asked as we examined the campus and considered how future growth might offer the opportunity to address our challenges and retool certain aspects of campus in order to meet our modern needs.
How does our setting create strengths and challenges?
The campus combines the resources of a large land-grant university with a small-town atmosphere, and it is highly integrated with the City of Newark's commercial core. However, both the campus and the town are burdened by congestion and a lack of integrated planning. Another strength is the multiple points of entry to campus, but those entry corridors lack a sense of identity and clarity.
How do we get around?
The campus offers multiple routes for transportation and circulation, with the southeast and east corridors presenting opportunities for additional traffic, while the roads in the north, central and west corridors have reached their maximum capacity. Other challenges include truck traffic that bisects the campus and a bus fleet that doesn't meet the service needs. Parking, while sufficient for faculty and staff on the central campus, lacks effective resource management, resulting in increased congestion and frustration. Locating additional parking on the perimeter of campus, not the core, is an efficient use of space.
For pedestrians, the distances between the central academic core of campus, the residence halls and parking are reasonable, but the pathways are often indirect, unsafe or otherwise not enjoyable. This results in less walking, more reliance on cars and increased traffic congestion. The walk from Laird to the central campus, for example, takes 13 minutes, but it is perceived by pedestrians as much longer.
How do we create a sustainable campus and protect the environment?
The Newark Campus mirrors a national historical trend in which development has not been fully integrated with ecological issues. Now is the opportunity for us to remedy that situation and for the University to use its expertise to lead the way and become a model for others in planning for growth. An example is how we manage storm-water runoff to avoid damaging the land and how we reduce our carbon footprint to protect the planet.
Integrated design principles will be used to make the best use of land, including planning for height and density to reduce sprawl, and to encourage intellectual, social and community interactions throughout the campus. The Green provides a strong architectural framework and a central ceremonial space, but other parts of the campus lack a center of activity and organization.
How do we envision our buildings?
A major strength of the Newark Campus is the consistency and beauty of the architecture on our central core, with its Georgian-style buildings that provide a sense of history and human scale. As our dynamic University moves forward, however, we can't assume that the same architectural style will continue to meet all our needs for the kind of development that best fits our educational mission. For example, to accommodate the demands of a complex research institution, buildings away from the campus core will need to be larger and more flexible than the traditional architecture permits.
Buildings also can be designed to provide both formal and incidental gathering places. In this way, they contribute to the intellectual climate of campus by facilitating the exchange of ideas, building on the University's strong traditions of excellence in teaching, research and student life.