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Towson Builds Up for the Future

by Jordan Russell

In 2010 Towson University has began to take full action towards the planned upgrades for the campus that are in the 2009 Master Plan.

The 2009 plan is based off of the university’s 2003 plan which also dealt with expanding the campus. Each plan involves a process that incorporates the views of people from the campus, community groups, and requires many hours of involvement from the university staff and consultants.

The updates added to the 2009 plan consist of the addition of 920,000 Gross Square Feet of academic support space and 1,085,000 GSF to be spread between recreation space, student spaces, campus housing, and athletic space.  Also, the idea of long-term building opportunities assessments is included.

These plans are made to not only support Towson University’s mission, but to also enhance the experience for Towson University students and create a better future for all involved with Towson University.

Major Principles

The Master Plan has five planning principles that are combined from the 2003 plan to the most recent plan.

First is building Maryland’s metropolitan university. Since Towson University is located within Baltimore’s metropolitan area, the university has to continue to build itself through updated versions of the master plan as time goes on. Towson’s enrollment has increased over the past few years and the university must increase the quality and size of its resources to provide the best resources for students.

Second is to develop the campus to the responsible capacity of land. Towson’s campus consists of 47 buildings that comprise of 4,296,237 gross squared feet according to the master plan. Enrollment has increased to the point that 100,000 GSF of academic space will be added.

Third is to create a compact, connected and comprehensive campus. Within this principle a new green space in front of the Cook Library, the College of Health Professions building, and the College of Liberal Arts building are to be completed in order to functionally realign some older buildings.

Philips said that the problems of distance will be resolved with the addition of new buildings and the possibility of walkways to connect the buildings.

Fourth is to develop a sustainable campus. President Caret signed a commitment document that made the university pledge to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions on the campus. Towson University’s upcoming smoking ban will also contribute to this.

Lastly, the campus must define clear edges and centers. On Towsontown Boulevard between Burdick Hall and the University Union a new gateway will be developed. Also a new future Enrollment Services building will be created to be adjacent from the Towsontown garage.

Phases of the plan – step 1

According to Kris Phillips, senior planner of the facilities management and head of the Master Plan project, there are multiple steps that must be taken when working on projects such as these.

“We work on the funding aspect of planning and then we secure the money,” Phillips said.

David Mayhew, the director of the facilities management, architecture, engineering, and construction, then takes the Master Plan with his group who hire an architect and construction manager to begin their own phases that must be fulfilled with the project.

“Any give project goes through what’s called programming first,” Mayhew said. “The planning department develops the need and the idea that this project supports the academic and the strategic mission.”

Phases of the plan – step 2

Once the project is confirmed that it supports the missions, the planning department will then create what is known as a program for the project which defines the overall size and budget.

“Then the project will go through a whole series of approval,” Mayhew said.

The project may possibly have to go through the University of Maryland system level or the state level depending on how the project is going to be funded. Then the project enters the next step known as the design phase.

Final phase and future plans

“Once it has been through the governor’s budget and the approval process, then we go to hire architects and engineers to design the project,” Mayhew said. “Then we hire construction managers to build the project.”

Lawrence Cromwell, part time art professor at Towson University, thought the idea of expansion would be good. He said it would be great if computers could be put in his assigned classroom to better the class experience. He was also curious if the Master Plan included any attention to the university’s parking situation.

Mayhew said that there are two parking garages that are being talked about within the Master Plan that are planned to be constructed. The main idea for the Master Plan is to make a better experience for students and staff alike.

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