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Working toward a master plan for Anschutz Medical Campus

Work session draws opinions on parking, open space, signage and bike access

Dental School students look at Anschutz Medical Campus maps while consultant Christopher Fasching, left, explains

By Chris Casey | University Communications

AURORA, Colo. - Parking, open space, signage and bike access were among the topics discussed at an Anschutz Medical Campus Master Plan work session Monday evening.

A couple dozen people attended the meeting in "The Bridge" in Education 2 South. Two more visioning work sessions are planned (see end of story for dates) before a final plan is completed around the end of the year.

Last year's first phase of the planning process defined the issues, constraints and opportunities of the site. University planning officials met with stakeholders to determine issues impacting the future campus and overall site, which includes the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority-managed property to the north of campus. Stakeholders include the university, city of Aurora, FRA, University of Colorado Hospital, Children's Hospital Colorado, University Physicians, Inc., and the Veteran's Administration. Those discussions led to a starting point for the current visioning process, which included an open forum last month that drew about 100 people.

Monday's session was hosted by Michael Del Giudice, chief planning officer, Office of Institutional Planning, and consultants from Perkins + Will, the main consultants working on the master plan.

In addition to maps illustrating potential traffic flows and open spaces on the campus, the consultants provided three representations of how the Anschutz Medical Campus might be organized during the next 10 years. "This is not the be all end all," Del Giudice said of the scenarios. "It's just the beginning of this physical planning phase."

An important recent development was the RTD's green-lighting of a light rail route bisecting the campus along Montview Boulevard, from Interstate 225 to Peoria Street. That route is planned to open in 2015.

The consultants laid out the three organizational scenarios:

  • "The Mall": Densify 17th Place to emphasize the pedestrian promenade.
  • "The Street": Densify 19th Avenue as an east-west axis.
  • "Two Front Doors": Develop a north-south spine to major entry points at Aurora Court/Colfax Avenue and the Montview Boulevard light rail station (just north of the Health Sciences Library).

"I like Plan B (The Street) the best, as long as there's parking," said JT Crepps, a dental school student. "I think that street is very under-utilized right now."

Dental school student Jason Rand said the Two Front Doors plan offers marketing opportunities, as the main access points at Colfax and the light rail station could be clearly marked with university signage.

Other comments made during the work session:

  • More parking is needed in convenient locations. Patient-centric parking should be a priority, and of particular concern is more parking for patients of the School of Dental Medicine's clinics. Also more parking for students, preferably giving them guaranteed spaces.
  • Campus shuttles should be reliable and time-saving.
  • More signage is needed. Crepps said, "Visitors to this campus have a difficult time getting around."
  • Preserve open spaces around campus. Dental School student Leah Schulz pointed out that students spend many hours in class and need to be able to refresh themselves in green spaces during breaks.
  • More bike lanes across campus. Ernie Salcedo, PhD, an instructor in Cell and Developmental Biology, said he commutes by bike from the Stapleton neighborhood and would like the campus to be more bicycle friendly.

Jean Mah, a Perkins + Will consultant, explained that the three scenarios are not intended to be "either or choices."

"The way we're characterizing them is 'Where's our starting point?'" Mah said. "So if we think about the master plan for the next 10 years and beyond, where do we want to start? ... For the next 10 years, where would you like to concentrate the growth?"

Mah said program needs being especially addressed in the master plan for the next 10 years are research, faculty office and support services and amenities such as restaurants, faculty club and meeting spaces. Del Giudice said educational space also needs to be addressed in that time frame, but it can be achieved through better utilization of current buildings and retrofitting projects.

Crepps said, "We need to plan the parking first and the buildings in relation to that. ... It's a great campus. It's beautiful. That's why I don't want to obliterate the open space. I'm just whining and complaining, but overall I like the campus a lot, or else I wouldn't have come here."

The full Phase One Master Plan Report is available for viewing at the Office of Institutional Planning website. Click here to view the report.

The next work session will be Sept. 24 through Sept. 26; the final session is scheduled to take place Oct. 29 through Oct. 31.

(Photo: Consultant Christopher Fasching, left, explains a master plan map of the Anschutz Medical Campus as dental school students look on.)




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