Villanova Transforming its Campus Landscape

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(From Villanova Magazine, Spring 2011 Issue)

In May, Villanova University launched the Transformation of the Campus Landscape initiative. This bold, three-year, $22.5 million project—approved by the Villanova Board of Trustees in December 2010—is part of the implementation of the University Strategic Plan and Campus Master Plan.

By modifying the layout of the campus grounds, this initiative will improve the quality of life for Villanova community members and enhance the visitor experience. The planned modifications, which are largely driven by research and by student feedback, aim to create a campus core that is vehicle-free, pedestrian-friendly, more accessible to people with different mobility needs and more aesthetically beautiful.

The landscape changes have been thoughtfully and deliberately designed to integrate all areas of campus life into a cohesive, interconnected whole. “Just as we seek to integrate our curricular and co curricular activities at Villanova, we are now seeking to create a closely-linked physical environment to support and enhance the student experience,” says Vice President for Administration and Finance Kenneth G. Valosky ’82 VSB.

A park-like, vehicle-free model of campus-core architectural landscaping is quite common at universities nationwide, including those that Villanova counts among its peers. However, Villanova’s campus will retain its unique qualities and traditional identity, with attributes including both historic and recent architecture.

“This initiative will bring the University Strategic Plan and Campus Master Plan to life in a very tangible way,” says University President the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD. “I am confident that the Transformation of the Campus Landscape will mark a tremendous milestone in the history of the University—one that will provide our students with an exceptional physical environment in which to learn, live and grow as a member of the Villanova community.”

The University tentatively plans to implement the Transformation in three phases over three years, and will shorten this timeline if construction schedules permit. Phase One is scheduled to take place from May to November 2011, Phase Two from May to October 2012 and Phase Three from May to October 2013. The Villanova Office of Facilities Management will lead the initiative with architectural guidance from Mark B. Thompson Associates and Wells Appel Land Strategies, both Philadelphia-based firms.

Phase One: May to November 2011

The first phase will include the transformation of Vasey Plaza. The plaza will be widened to allow ramps on both sides for different mobility needs, and new hardscaping will provide convenient access to Vasey Hall from all levels. The space will become greener and will encompass an expanded outdoor dining and gathering area. Renovations to Sheehan and Sullivan residence halls will also be completed.

In addition, the University will install new bollards and check points to re-route vehicular traffic during Phase One. The innermost driving route will be closed to regular traffic, while emergency and service vehicles will continue to have full campus access at all times. Drivers with special needs may use the free campus shuttle, or call public safety for transportation, to enter the vehicle-free campus core.

Phase Two: May to October 2012

The second phase of the project will transform the Kennedy Oval—the area between Kennedy, Corr and Dougherty Halls and the Connelly Center— into an open and attractive gathering place. This phase will also include improvements to the Sullivan-Sheehan Quad and a turnaround on Dougherty Drive.

Phase Three: May to October 2013

The final phase will include a transformation of the areas around Corr and Alumni Halls. The Grotto will be moved to the area between St. Rita Hall and Austin Hall, and defined by an archway. The end result will resemble a small amphitheater designed to hold approximately 50 people.