CWRU launches master planning effort with survey of community

Campus AerialToday Case Western Reserve launches the first phase of its major master planning effort: learning how faculty, staff and students use existing campus spaces—and what they think of them.

The information-gathering initiative opens with an online survey from Sasaki Associates, the Massachusetts-based firm charged to help identify what campus improvements will advance the priorities of its 2013 strategic plan.

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The 14-month engagement also will include extensive stakeholder interviews, open meetings, and other measures to solicit constituents’ thoughts and ideas.

Next week, for example, faculty will be asked to respond to a second survey that seeks their feedback regarding their collaborations with campus colleagues. Distributed via email, this instrument is designed to explore not only where professors work together but how.

Sasaki Associates will use the data and insights gleaned from surveys and interviews to identify opportunities and challenges involved in developing the university’s physical environment in ways that support and complement the strategic plan’s aspirations for research, learning, student life and more.

Sasaki has collaborated with institutions such as Ohio State University, Purdue University and the University of Pennsylvania on campus planning efforts. The company also has previous Cleveland experience, including the planning involved in Gateway, the downtown project that includes the homes of the Indians and Cavaliers, and, more recently, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s HealthLine corridor. A university committee that included of faculty, staff, students, administrators and trustees selected Sasaki from a pool of 10 national firms vying for the opportunity.

Sasaki was “the most innovative and forward-thinking firm with the deepest relevant and recent experience, the firm with the most creative tools to deploy to engage campus communities, and the firm that was the ‘best fit’ with our CWRU culture,” said Irwin Lowenstein, Case Western Reserve’s advising university architect and president of ReThink Advisors.

The survey launched today (available online at includes an interactive mapping tool where participants can show where they live, eat, work, study and socialize. Students and faculty even can note the classrooms they like—and dislike—most. Users also can trace regular walking, biking or driving routes they take, and mark areas where they park, pick up public transportation, enjoy being outdoors and pursue other activities.

After analyzing the data collected, Sasaki will develop scenarios and other options that seek to respond to imperatives in the strategic plan and possibilities highlighted in the feedback provided. Through an iterative process of sharing findings and seeking additional comments, the consultants will move toward development of a broad framework  and then more specific recommendations regarding campus buildings and other features. The process also will involve engagement with stakeholders beyond the immediate campus, including other University Circle institutions.

Case Western Reserve’s previous master plan was released in 2005, in which its creators outlined the need for a gathering space for graduates, a student center, and dining, retail and residential development on Euclid Avenue, among other projects.

In the years that followed, the Alumni House and Uptown opened, and the Tinkham Veale University Center starts operations in August 2014.

This master plan is likely to suggest short- and long-term projects, Lowenstein said, identifying projects to begin within the next five to 10 years as well as articulating a vision for decades hence.

The survey will remain open until Friday, April 18. Watch The Daily for updates regarding the process and its findings.