Friday, August 28, 2009

Once Every Twenty Years or So

Welcome or Welcome Back!!

The college experience for the members of the Class of 2013 began this week with a beautiful, near picture-postcard-perfect, bright, sunny day. Hopefully, everything is going well for them (or you) and that they (or you) have begun to successfully find their (or your) way around campus.

If you are new or even if you are not so new (welcome to my world), if you have found your way to this blog, you know (or have just discovered) that UIC is in the midst of a Campus Master Planning process.

The last time we had such a process, the members of this year’s freshman class (the newest future members of the Alumni Association) were not even a faint twinkle in their parents’ eyes. That’s because the last one was about twenty years ago. These things don’t happen all the time and hundreds of thousands of students come and go between Campus Master Plans. BUT, EVERYONE who is lucky enough to be on campus at this point in time has the opportunity to be a part of this historic Master Planning effort.

The consultant team has begun to delineate concepts of what they think would make sense for the UIC of the future, both in the long term and in the short term. What do you think about…

* A fountain in the Quad (that big space in the midst of the Lecture Centers)?
* A greener, less-concrete aforementioned Quad?
* Having more evergreens on campus to add color to the winter months?
* Replacing at least some of the concrete benches with ones that are less… well… concrete?
* Getting rid of all “surface parking” (read parking lots) and increasing the amount of "structured parking” (read parking garages)?
* Relocating the Student Services functions from the far corner of the East Side of campus to some place like Taylor and Morgan?
* Establishing a gateway to the West Side of campus of some sort at Taylor and Ashland?
* Creating “greenways” (read a pedestrian park which connects green spaces) to enhance the sense of place (e.g., from MBRB west to Damen – with minor breaks through NPI and COMRB)?
* Demolishing BSB and our University Hall? (Did that get your attention?)

You and you and you too have the enviable chance to influence what YOUR campus could evolve into over the next twenty years or so.

(Please note the dates and times of the upcoming Phase II Town Hall Meetings that are listed at the end of this posting)

Master Planning cannot be a spectator sport. Come and voice your opinion at the Town Halls that are coming right up. This is your chance to get involved and have your voice heard.

Until next Friday…

Phase II Town Hall Meetings

East Side – Wednesday, September 9, 1:30 – 3:30 PM
Student Services Building, Conference Rooms B & C

West Side – Thursday, September 10, 10 AM – Noon
Molecular Biology Research Building Auditorium


The objectives for these Town Hall Meetings are to:

1. Present alternative land use and development plan concepts being generated by our consultants.

2. Solicit comments and suggestions about how to plan for future development and site improvements.

1 comment:

  1. * A fountain in the Quad (that big space in the midst of the Lecture Centers)?
    -Not unless we can demonstrate in some way that it would attract more visitors to the quad.
    * A greener, less-concrete aforementioned Quad?
    -Yes, please.
    * Having more evergreens on campus to add color to the winter months?
    -Yes, please.
    * Replacing at least some of the concrete benches with ones that are less… well… concrete?
    -Yes, please.
    * Getting rid of all “surface parking” (read parking lots) and increasing the amount of "structured parking” (read parking garages)?
    -Yes and no. Get rid of the surface parking lots at Roosevelt and Halsted, and Racine and Harrison. Both of these are underutilized. We need way more bike parking - move the bike racks from the Halsted/Polk/Taylor garage to CUPPA and BSB south.
    * Relocating the Student Services functions from the far corner of the East Side of campus to some place like Taylor and Morgan?
    -No. This building is perfect for the offices and functions that take place inside. Perhaps create a better path to the building, like wider sidewalks on the south side of Harrison from Morgan to Racine, and bike lanes in both directions on Harrison as well as some features in between (like some retail or affordable housing instead of a surface parking lot at Racine and Harrison.
    * Establishing a gateway to the West Side of campus of some sort at Taylor and Ashland?
    -Yes, and at the same time update the intersection signals to include countdown timers and adjust the signal timing to better reflect pedestrian, bicyclist, bus, motorist, and shuttle traffic going east and westbound on Taylor Street across Ashland.
    * Creating “greenways” (read a pedestrian park which connects green spaces) to enhance the sense of place (e.g., from MBRB west to Damen – with minor breaks through NPI and COMRB)?
    -Yes, as long as this includes accommodations for bicyclists.
    * Demolishing BSB and our University Hall? (Did that get your attention?)
    -No, BSB is too cool. It's staircases could be made a little safer (they are very steep and have short depth steps). Also, UH is a neat building and "weird" - it fits into the rest of our weird campus. You could reduce its "brutality" by constructing a building half the height of UH nearby. Can we get rid of its surrounding scaffolding, or possibly create some hanging gardens or something? Also, can we install some windblocking trees in the plaza west of UH - this area is a nightmare to walk through during the winter.

    Additionally, if someone is reading this, I would like to add the following comments.
    -Please, please, please construct a ramp on both cul-de-sacs at the former intersection of Morgan and Vernon Park as well as increase the sidewalk width between the two. Bicyclists cross here extremely often every day without any friendly accommodations. The sidewalk also floods, is uneven and should be the first section plowed after snow.
    -Increase the sidewalk width on the west side of Peoria between the expressway and Van Buren. We need more bike parking here, and the existing bike parking was improperly installed so that bike wheels hang into the street. Also, cars park illegally here 24 hours a day. They're annoying and get too close to our bikes - same with delivery trucks (like UPS and FedEx).
    -The sidewalk curb cut at approximately 900 W Harrison (to Peoria entrance of CTA station) is not ADA accessible. The grade is too steep. This is also annoying to bicyclists. Please fix this ramp. Near here, UIC added a pedestrian refuge in the island in Harrison. This seems pointless. Don't most people just wait in the middle of the street between island segments?

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