F&S Insider: Volume 6, Issue 1

Letter from the Associate Vice Chancellor and Executive Director

Dr. Ehab Kamarah, F&S associate vice chancellor and executive director

When you imagine the U of I campus landscape, what do you picture? Many might think of the Main Quad, or perhaps University Housing and internationally renowned athletics facilities. Maybe the Bardeen Quad and its access to the Grainger College of Engineering and the Boneyard Creek brings you memories. The Illini Grove provides an escape from the urban environment on campus. Whatever your vision of the university, the campus and its landscape are ever-changing.

In 2019, the Resilient Grounds Strategy Advisory Committee recommended the development of a comprehensive Campus Landscape Master Plan (CLMP) to create and maintain a resilient, sustainable, functional, accessible, and inclusive campus landscape. To achieve that, a Core Planning Committee that includes representatives from across the campus was formed to guide this effort, in partnership with Design Workshop, a reputable Chicago-based architectural landscape firm that was engaged to support the UIUC community to develop our first CLMP. The Core Planning Committee and Design Workshop conducted extensive consultation with many stakeholders through multiple public input sessions that includes 17 stakeholders interviews, one student forum, three student design reviews, two community surveys, tours and on-site workshops, and a public forum.

The Core Planning Committee developed eight core principles for the CLMP:
• Define a shared vision of a sustainable campus landscape,
• Define a cohesive landscape aesthetic to reinforce branding and identity,
• Re-center the stories of native people within the landscape,
• Honor the legacy of the historic landscape design,
• Define strategies that value rainwater as a precious resource,
• Provide design guidance to address maintenance considerations,
• Define ways to leverage the landscape for learning, research, and mental health, and
• Define clear funding responsibilities to guide all future development decisions

So, on the Main Quad, identifying some former ‘thru’ areas as more ‘go-to’ destinations will add seating and gathering areas to different sections of the quad, including Centennial Court (south of Noyes Lab), Anniversary Plaza (south of Illini Union), and connecting walkways to Nevada Street, home of cultural houses to the east. To see some early concepts, you can view the public presentation here: http://fs.illinois.edu/services/capital-programs/campus-master-planning.

As this process nears substantial completion this summer, we look forward to concrete solutions for this brilliant campus landscape. So get outside, take a deep breath, and imagine your future at Illinois.

Dr. Ehab Kamarah
Associate Vice Chancellor and Executive Director, Facilities & Services