The last time Georgia Tech put together a comprehensive plan for ambitious growth and enhanced livability around campus was way back in 2004.
However dusty, that document ended up being potent, in that it laid the groundwork for several defining enhancements around not just the institute’s campus but Midtown, including the development of Tech Square, the innovative EcoCommons greenspace, and the John Lewis Student Center, collectively an estimated capital investment of $2 billion.
Now Georgia Tech is at it again.
Following two years of analysis, data collection, and outreach efforts that included town halls, campus tours, surveys, and meetings with neighborhood associations and Atlanta city leadership, Georgia Tech has unveiled the 2023 Comprehensive Campus Plan, outlining a bevy of thought-provoking possibilities for growth and infrastructural retrofitting.
The CCP sets no timelines for changes in stone, as it’s meant to function more as an adaptable, flexible “living document” that supports “the growing needs of the campus community for the next 10 years and beyond,” according to a school announcement. It does delineate the campus into zones where land use recommendations and development guidelines hope to create a uniform vision.
Highlights include the possible removal of the tired, low-rise Peters Parking Deck located just north of Bobby Dodd Stadium for a versatile new greenspace called Peters Park. Another idea calls for permanently reopening the Third Street tunnel, which tuned-in observers note would create “a true game-changer” with the first dedicated bicycle and pedestrian crossing of the Connector freeway in the area.
Other aspects of the plan call for making areas defined as Georgia Tech’s core campus car-free, installing pathways and gathering spaces where streets currently exist.
Other big ideas call for new residence halls, a thermal energy plant, a North Avenue Welcome Center, and a new performing arts center, the latter as part of the proposed redevelopment of longstanding Ferst Center into a broader district known as Arts Square.
In general, the CCP encourages more vertical development (over five stories) as opposed to larger building footprints. Also recommended are better connections to three innovation areas (BioSciences, Tech Square, and the growing Science Square district to the west) via improved infrastructure such as bridges.
The CCP is designed to address campus-wide goals in coming years that include 2,000 new beds for first-year students, another 2.2 million square feet of development, and a 26 percent increase in the overall population of on-campus students, faculty, and staff.
Next steps include pinpointing campus priorities for near and long-term capital projects, plus transit and parking feasibility studies, and climate action analyses that hope to tackle stormwater runoff and other issues.
In the CCP’s intro, Georgia Tech president Ángel Cabrera says the plan will enhance the campus for generations by providing “a bold future for enrollment, environmental stewardship, housing, research, student life, transit, utilities, and the workplace at Georgia Tech while enhancing and preserving the beauty of our campus.”
The full, 130-page CCP report—a paradise of planning strategies, campus visuals, and wonk-friendly research—can be viewed here.
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