Campus survey will help plan 20 years of development

April 17, 2013

The Georgetown  master planning survey, which ran from April 10-16, will allow the University to incorporate student opinion into the campus development plan for the next 20 years. The survey was created by University officials and Sasaki Strategies, an architecture  firm partnered with Georgetown, located in Boston.

The 2,731 responses of the survey came from undergraduate, law, medical, and graduate students. Gregory Janks, director of Sasaki Strategies, believes that the information from the survey will help them make recommendations to the University for future campus planning.

“What we’ll do is close the survey at around the 15th, and at that point we’ll do a complete analysis and look for patterns in the data,” Janks said. “Once those [patterns] are framed, we will take it back to the [Georgetown] team, representing all different areas of the campus, who will get to see the results. Then that team will make recommendations to the Georgetown Administration who will decide based on the recommendations.”

Responses can be filtered by factors such as students’ year, school, and how far they live from Georgetown. Although Janks realizes the value of the data Sasaki is collecting from students, he sees the data as a small part of the larger process of campus development planning. “This is a small piece—but a critical piece—in what will be a much broader comprehensive planning effort looking at the academic environment, student life issues, athletic and recreation issues, [and] transportation issues,” Janks said.

Robin Morey, the Vice President of Planning and Facilities Management, also thinks this survey only represents a small part of Georgetown’s data collecting plans. “If you look at the data, it’s scientific to the extent that this is how people feel,” she said. “Somebody might not feel safe at a particular location, but that does not mean the location is not safe.”

Morey and Janks believe they will be able to use this information to create a framework to guide campus planning in the future. The survey will allow them to know the preferences of Georgetown students and faculty so that future construction can facilitate interdepartmental cooperation and transportation.

“If the data shows that there are particular areas where people usually navigate and we need to strengthen those pedestrian pathway projects, that’s what we’re going to do and focus on improving those pedestrian pathways,” Morey said.

Using the data from the survey, Janks believes that the University can create a campus that not only provides the basic necessities to students but also the means to have an enjoyable university life. “I think the survey will help us confirm we have correctly identified the major pedestrian pods and activity nodes on campus so that we can reinforce existing districts and bring in an even more vibrant, active street life to the campus,” Janks said.

The survey also provided useful data on how the University can create a safer environment for the students and faculty.

“One of the big things we always hear about working on college campuses are potential vehicular and pedestrian conflicts,” Janks said. “So if there are potential safety hazards with cars, those are very helpful to our transportation planning and as part of this kind of larger picture in terms of trying to create very safe environments for the students.”

The data will also play a major role in Georgetown’s plan to house 385 more students on campus by 2015 and 90 percent of the undergraduate population by 2025.

“If we find that people eat a lot at a particular location, and it is right adjacent to the location we pick to build the new residence hall, then programming wise it might not be wise to put a food outlet in that hall,” Morey said. “However, if an area is underutilized maybe we could help increase utilization by adding a food outlet.”

The University plans on continuing its data collection with Sasaki along with the cooperation of other consulting firms, such as Forest City, to gather more specific information.

“The next phase is that our consultants will go out and interview focus groups of people,” Morey said. “They will ask teams of faculty, staff, undergraduates, and graduates more specific and more pointed questions. The anecdotal questions from the first survey will help us devise more specific questions for the next round of surveys.”

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