In community meetings held this week to discuss the campus master plan draft, Scott Bernotas, associate vice chancellor for facilities management, said that he hopes University stakeholders will take away three important points.
“It’s a draft; it’s a long-term vision intended to be implemented over 20 or 30 years, not just the next few [years]; and parking is one of our highest priorities,” said Bernotas.
Improvements to Bigelow Boulevard are among the proposed projects with an anticipated start early next year. Anticipated elements include a new crosswalk and additional green space designed to balance pedestrian and vehicular traffic along one of the busiest streets on campus.
A handful of common themes emerged when the floor was opened for questions. Among them, parking and pedestrian traffic on campus, a need for multi-purpose spaces designed for study and cross-disciplinary collaboration, better wayfinding across campus and cohesive branding of Pitt buildings.
At Tuesday’s standing-room only session, Bernotas and Kevin Petersen from campus planning consultant Ayers Saint Gross addressed individual questions from session attendees. Highlights from the question-and-answer portion of the meeting include:
Campus parking already needs improvement. How will that be prioritized?
We want to ensure we maintain the same amount of available parking before any current parking spaces are re-purposed as part of the master plan. Additionally, there are separate studies of transportation occurring to examine road and traffic capacity. One traffic study currently underway is looking at how many more spaces can be accommodated and where.
Will any historic buildings be eliminated?
Areas within historic districts will likely feature new buildings, but no historic buildings are slated for demolition.
Will research cores for interdisciplinary work be accommodated?
The Crabtree Hall renovation concept includes multidisciplinary space for enhanced collaboration. These spaces will be on the lower five levels, with Pitt Public Health occupying the space above.
Is there opportunity to use rooftop space for solar?
The plan is tied closely to the Pitt Sustainability Plan, which emphasizes green space, energy use features and storm water management, among other factors. Rooftop solar is currently being considered.
The new Bigelow Blvd. streetscape looks good but it could still be problematic for drivers when students cross the street between classes. Could there be an overpass?
Evidence has shown that even with overpasses, pedestrians will still cross streets. Additionally, the city is against bridging over streets. The crossing of Bigelow on foot does present a safety concern and one way to address this could be having a crossing guard during peak walk times. A pedestrian bridge option will be left open for future consideration.
There was mention of campus wayfinding and better branding identity. Does that include signage?
There are many opportunities to improve Pitt’s visual identity on campus. Design cues and best practices can be borrowed from other universities and urban landscapes to better enhance our visual identity. This could include the addition of distinctive signage, as well as Pitt branding.
Feedback is still welcome and faculty and staff are invited to submit comments online.