CMU continues work to design enhanced outdoor environment

​​​The goal: A campus with an engaging outdoor environment, clear borders, effective signage and simplified yet strategic landscaping.

Central Michigan University must continue to be the beautiful setting that students, alumni, faculty and staff so readily call 'home.'

The landscape should reflect a strong sense of academic impact, with walkways and open spaces that inspire and connect all who visit, study, work and live here.

CMU's campus identity initiative extends the 2013 master planning process.  It includes four, week-long charrettes — real-time design sessions that engage the local community in planning what people experience when they walk, bike or drive across campus.

Implementation of the results likely would be phased in throughout a decade and be funded by private donations. Costs will be estimated later this year as planning work concludes.

Key PowerPoint images, including draft designs, from last week's planning work by the AECOM consulting firm are posted online, as is the full 144-slide presentation​.

Image highlights 
Full presentation 

Highlights of that work include:

  • Warriner Mall today is criss-crossed with paths and cluttered with trees that block the view of CMU's most iconic building. AECOM presented a plan to open the center corridor, add arched entryways and promenades, and create a breathtaking, ah-ha view from University Street.  While a couple of trees likely would be removed, several others easily could be relocated.
  • Way-finding or campus signage should allow individuals to know easily where they are and how to get to their destinations.  It should convey academic excellence as well as CMU's hallmark warmth and friendliness.
  • Landscaping should frame the campus perimeter, be simple and low-cost to maintain, move the eye away from utility boxes or trash bins and direct views to CMU's most impressive features. 
  • Landscaping and outdoor features should have the strength, beauty and stature to mark one of the nation's pre-eminent universities.
  • The week's efforts have immediate value, informing decisions about the placement and landscaping of the Biosciences Building and guiding campus landscape efforts this spring.

"The Warriner Mall plan honors who we are, how we use that space and ties us more visibly to the city and community," said Marcie Otteman, director of alumni relations.

"It's almost surreal," said Tony Voisin, assistant vice president of student affairs after watching Friday's presentation by AECOM.  "This shows us how to be, visually, all that we know CMU is."

Upcoming Charrettes

  • Outdoor Feature Design 1, week of Feb. 10
  • Outdoor Feature Design 2, week of March 3

Outdoor features to be planned during the last two hands-on design sessions are areas where students, faculty, staff and guests would congregate.  Beyond Warriner Mall, such areas include the space by Anspach, Moore and Pearce halls and the "green spine" that runs north and south through the center of campus.