Ball State has been working with SmithGroup JJR to create Campus Master Plan, which was approved by the Board of Trustees during the last meeting. The plan includes various campus developments for the next 25 years. PHOTO COURTESY OF SMITHGROUP JJR
Newly approved Campus Master Plan to connect, improve campus
Over the last three years, Ball State has been working with SmithGroup JJR to create its Campus Master Plan, which was approved by the Board of Trustees at its last meeting.
The Campus Master Plan is a document that lays out the plans for campus development for the next 25 years.
It outlines different areas of growth throughout campus, such as developing the East Quad and the East Mall, increasing residential areas and increasing engagement with the Village, recreational and athletic areas.
Doug Kozma, co-leader of the SmithGroup JJR campus planning group, said the Campus Master Plan he helped create will bring significant change to Ball State and help students forever. But while the document has ideas for the future, it's up to the university to implement them.
"Ideas aren’t a mandate for change; this is a when-we-choose-to change," Kozma said. "This document can help guide that."
Bernard Hannon, treasurer and vice president for business affairs, said there are eight big ideas the master plan consists of.
While academic buildings currently run north, south and west, the Campus Master Plan has ideas to further develop and expand on the campus' east side. This would include connecting to the new East Mall, which BSU architecture students designed.
Bike and pedestrian paths will be established, connecting all parts of campus — from the Village to the Jo Ann Gora Student Recreation and Wellness Center. Hannon said it will be "a beautiful greenway, an opportunity for students to gather, meet, have lunch, enjoy themselves outdoors but also get the people and bicycles off of McKinley Avenue."
With Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler working on his riverfront development project, the East Mall should complement and work with the project by connecting the new pedestrian walkway down to White River.
"The East Mall is one of the best ideas, I think, that comes out of this plan," Hannon said. "It will create new mobility through and to campus."
Activate University Green
The University Green area, including Shafer Tower, Bracken Library, the College of Architecture and Planning and the Whitinger Business Building, is a great location for campus activities, said Hannon.
"It already exists, we don't have to create it. We just have to energize it," he said.
Development in this area may include an outdoor stage or a new dining hall. Hannon said it could be an area for students to meet with each other, talk and share ideas.
This will also include renovations to the CAP building and the library.
Preserve and Enhance the Old Quad
This will include landscape preservation and enhancements, with a goal of making this area more friendly to campus visitors. Hannon said there are plans to either repurpose or replace Cooper Physical Science Building in order to further open up the quad area.
With the Beneficence Statue, "on an island, by herself," Hannon said he would like to remove the landscaping behind it so the university can be seen more easily.
Hannon also said this area could even potentially be available space for another university college.
Engage the Village
With the pedestrian and bike paths in mind, a strong goal in the Campus Master Plan is to engage the Village. Hannon said it's important for both residential areas and student life. With increases walkways to enter the Village, the entire city of Muncie may become more engaged.
Hannon said there is a potential to build south of the L.A. Pittenger Student Center in order to bring more students to the area.
Enhance North Residential Areas
With more houses and dining communities on the north side of campus, Hannon said they could improve the connections to the academic core of campus.
The master plan also includes ideas of renovating the Cow Path, by making it a parallel north/south pedestrian and bike path, connecting with the East Mall and north residential areas.
The plan details improving Ball State's health and wellness image, with a new gateway and identity along Bethel Avenue. By creating new recreation areas around the Anthony Apartments, students may have a better place to be active, said Hannon.
"Students can spill out of their residence halls and go play," he said. "It's inconvenient for [them] to have to get in their cars just to play soccer."
Plans for new athletic facilities would include an indoor field practice facility, but in the long term, Hannon said. New basketball, volleyball and aquatic centers are in the plan as well.
Roads and traffic on campus
In addition to the eight big ideas, Jim Lowe, the associate vice president for facilities planning and management, said alterations to campus roads are a part of the Master Plan as well.
Lowe said these plans involve utilizing current "open spaces" on campus where students don't typically congregate with one another. By developing these areas, he said he can connect the dots.
His plans also focus on the pedestrian and bike path circulation, and vehicle circulation and parking. He said their goals are to calm traffic, increase safety and draw the traffic away from "the heart of campus" and into the parameters of it.
A new parking strategy will also be implemented. Lowe said he frequently hears from visitors they "didn't know where to park," and he said they plan to fix that over time.
"We need to work on how to make the campus visitor friendly, we need better plans," Lowe said.
Hannon said some of these ideas have already begun development, and some may be farther away, but every idea falls in either the "near-term," "mid-term" or "long-term" categories.
"As you get further away from today's date, the likelihood of something that's on this list occurring becomes much less probable," Hannon said. "Because things will change."
Near-term (three to seven years): Worthen practice facility, New Academic Building, CAP renovation, Emens improvements, new residence halls, East Mall
Mid-term (five to 15 years): Academic Commons, University Green improvements, Bracken Library renovations, Village residence hall, aquatics renovation/replacement, Old Quad landscape improvements, new academic building, field-house, Emens parking garage replacement, Village apartments
Long-term (12 to 25 years): Noyer renovation/replacement, Woodworth renovation, Studebaker West renovation, Bethel recreation fields, new apartments, new academic building, Scheidler apartments repurpose