Campus identity work creates outdoor spaces that foster activity, connectivity

​​​​​Campus identity work continued last week to design outdoor spaces that invite students, faculty, staff and community members to connect and engage through the center of campus and in select open areas.

Experts from AECOM, the firm that supported last year's master planning, led the weeklong charrette. Set up in the Bovee University Center, they met with campus constituents and hosted open houses, using input gathered throughout the week to develop and refine design concepts.

Design Drawings

Highlights include:

  • Adding interest and activity along a green spine that runs north and south through campus, making it more than a corridor for movement. AECOM suggests enhancing it with trees, placing wayfinding signs at intersections with east/west paths, adding curves to capture architectural views and installing a bike path.
  • Creating an outdoor entertainment, arts and gathering area outside Bush Theatre that also would connect Moore Hall and the Music Building. In space that's rarely used today, AECOM designed a slightly raised stage and circular areas to be used for watching or listening to performances as well as for classes, meetings, discussions and relaxing. The design incorporates Native American symbols such as a turtle, medicine wheel and birch trees.

"AECOM has taught us that outdoor rooms enclosed by trees, shrubs and low walls invite people to stop, sit, talk, play, engage," said Linda Slater, director of plant engineering and planning. "The goal is to create beautiful spaces that foster activity, connectivity and creativity."

  • Transforming the area outside Woldt Hall into a town square or European piazza, with a market, tables and chairs, and gardens. While the current fountain is beautiful, it discourages gathering. Redesigned, it could become a space for students to dine, talk, collaborate and study. Trees would add shade that allows summer campers from the residence halls to use the space.
  • Further refining Warriner Mall. AECOM last month showed how it could become a powerful, welcoming space that also connects the university and city. This month, they added trees, low walls and gardens along the sides to create outdoor rooms that invite people — including students from the northern residence halls — to linger and interact.
  • Designing the new road that would serve the Biosciences Building and other nearby buildings to foster pedestrian/vehicle safety, to be attractive and to create compelling views of campus.
  • Further honing signs that direct pedestrians and drivers across campus. With limited signage today, AECOM has developed a wayfinding system that directs people across campus easily, to buildings, parking lots and key features. The proposed signs would have a stone base that complements CMU's many building styles, angled tops that show movement and energy, and designs in CMU's maroon and gold colors.

"We tend to think there's only a week in the fall when new students need to learn the campus," said Steve Lawrence, associate vice president of facilities management.

"We also have new faculty and staff, guests who attend special events, prospective students and families who visit all year long and about 35,000 young people who attend events, camps and conferences each year. We need to make it easy for them to know where they are and where they're going," he said.

AECOM will return for a final campus identity charrette the week of March 3.