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Key Takeaways from 2015 SCUP Mid-Atlantic Conference

Over 250 attendees consisting of architects, planners, and university facilities personnel convened in Norfolk, VA for the2015 Society of University and College Planners (SCUP) Mid-Atlantic Conference. It was warm and sunny in Norfolk offering a nice break from the brutal weather we experienced this winter!

IMG_2347All of the participants boarded buses on Monday for a tour of Old Dominion University (ODU), a campus remaking itself from a commuter campus to a residential campus while doubling the size of the student population. As a landlocked university ODU’s plan will require careful planning and vertical development. One of the striking goals of the master plan is the recognition of the importance of open space and the priority of maintaining and enhancing the existing open space network on campus.

We also heard from both Montgomery College and Tidewater Community College on the challenges community colleges face including accommodating unconventional students and creating an institutional identity with commuters and multiple campuses.

The popular topic of accommodating unconventional students continued with a discussion on the design of a residence hall to serve disabled veterans at Mississippi State University. Returning Veterans do not have much in common with the typical college student who is 18-24 years old. Veterans tend to be older, often married, with life experiences which are very different from those who have not served. The concept of the Student Veteran House is to facilitate the transition to college for Veterans and to offer them the support they need to be successful in their academic career. Support starts with the design of the structure. The Student Veteran House model offers a universal design allowing accessibility and support systems including healthcare, assistance with registering for classes, and the moral support offered by living with fellow veterans.

IMG_2338-225x300FTLA Director of Sustainability, Zolna Russell, convened a very well attended session on sustainability efforts at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). After an introduction on the current state of climate change, the development plans of NJIT were reviewed. These plans focused on the renovation of existing buildings rather than demolishing and building new. These retrofits have allowed NJIT to achieve energy efficiency while preserving resources and avoiding waste.

SCUP Mid-Atlantic was an excellent overview of the issues affecting colleges and universities on all levels and was a great primer for SCUP’s 50th anniversary celebration in Chicago this summer.

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