Master Planning

Campus Planning 1960-1990

Since the 1960s, the University of Michigan has undertaken campus planning studies for each of its major Ann Arbor campuses. These studies, executed by the local planning firm of Johnson, Johnson and Roy, included the Central Campus Planning Study of 1963, the North Campus Planning Study of 1984, the Central Campus Planning Study update of 1987, and the South Campus Planning Study of 1991.  The approach utilized in these plans was a concept called “framework planning” which provided a flexible organizational structure for the campus by accommodating physical change over time without trying to forecast future specific project details.

It is important for those viewing these planning studies to understand that the key elements of a master plan are embodied in the overall development concept and in specific recommendations such as potential development sites, pedestrian systems, vehicular transportation systems, natural features preservation, open space preservation, preservation of historic buildings, parking systems, utility distribution systems, campus detailing, etc. Specific architectural solutions for individual projects can only be developed after the academic and facilities program has been determined and the design architect selected. Therefore, it is important to note that although plan drawings may illustrate specific architectural footprints on a potential development site, these footprints may change as the buildings are designed.

Campus Planning 1998

In 1997, the firm of Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates (VSBA) studied master planning issues in general on the several Ann Arbor campuses. During these recent years, there has been an emphasis on a planning “process” which would be constantly in progress and could shift its focus to various emerging issues as they arose over time. This process produced a series of reports dealing with various aspects of the planning process. The first major report compiled from this process was the Overview Report of 1998.

One of the major accomplishments of recent planning activities was the inception, design, and construction of the Life Sciences Complex, located on the northeast corner of the Central Campus. While an independent Life Sciences Commission focused its energy on identifying research and teaching agenda for the new initiative, VSBA focused on the facilities and operations side of the project. Two important parameters shaped this aspect – the nature of the facility and placement on campus. Outstanding scientists will require outstanding facilities and equipment. The scientists will need to be in close proximity to the various disciplines on campus and providing linkages to each was the work of VSBA.

Medical Center Master Plan Update

In 2005, an update of the Medical Center master plan was completed.  The previous master plan for the Medical Center was prepared in 1980 and had focused on the retention of the old University Hospital building which had been built in 1925 (sometimes referred to as Old Main Hospital).  However, a new University Hospital was constructed in 1986, and the old hospital demolished in 1989, making the master plan of 1980 no longer valid.  The master plan update of 2005 encompasses not only the Medical Center Campus core area, but also the Wall Street district located nearby, and the East Medical Campus located on the northeast side of Ann Arbor.

North Campus Master Plan Update

In 2008, an update of the North Campus Master Plan was completed.  The previous master planning study was prepared in 1984, and although it guided development for many years, the growth and changing nature of North Campus led to the preparation of an update.  The Master Plan Update provides a flexible physical framework for coordinating incremental development on North Campus and focuses on four guiding themes: create strong connections; promote campus vitality; optimize development capacity; and respect and incorporate environmental features.

Capital Outlay Submissions and Five Year Master Plans

The Finance and Capital Projects Committee considers all needs of the University with regard to new capital projects, and the executive vice president and chief financial officer makes recommendations to the Board regarding new capital projects. The committee consists of the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, the executive vice president and chief financial officer, the vice president and secretary of the university, and other executive officers may be invited to attend as appropriate. The executive vice president and chief financial officer or designee serves as chair.