Framework Outlines Future of Syracuse Campus

Campus Transformation

Students arriving in fall 2016 discovered the future of campus beginning to take shape. A year later, with further developments to the physical environment, things are well and truly underway.

Architectural rendering of campus upgrades
The University looks to the future as it revitalizes living and learning spaces. Rendering courtesy of Sasaki Associates Inc.

Alexis Alex ’19 appreciates the energy and sense of community created by one of the more visible projects, the vehicle-free promenade that now stretches from Newhouse to Bird Library. “I think it’s very nice. It’s just like a nice walkway for people to see the buildings and meet up,” Alex says. “It’s a good meeting pathway.” The promenade was just one of many projects that were undertaken. These included technology and classroom upgrades in academic spaces and accessibility updates. Proposed plans were also unveiled for substantial building and renovation over the next several years that will change the face of the University.

The transformation was put into motion by the draft Campus Framework, informed by thousands of pieces of input by members of the campus community over nearly two years—and the work continues. “The Campus Framework is a living, evolving plan that will guide the University administration as it transforms the campus to meet the needs of students, faculty, and staff, including, especially, facilities required to fulfill the ambitions of the Academic Strategic Plan,” says School of Architecture Dean Michael Speaks, a member of the Campus Framework Advisory Group. “This will mean addressing the specific needs of schools, colleges, and centers, but it will also entail the development of facilities and public places that serve the larger University community.”

Designed as a 20-year roadmap, the draft Campus Framework is intrinsically intertwined with the Academic Strategic Plan, which outlines the University’s vision and identifies University-wide goals to meet that vision. It was also developed with input from across the campus community. The Academic Strategic Plan, the Campus Framework, and Operational Excellence, which looked at more effective business processes and efficiencies, were components of the three-pronged Fast Forward Syracuse initiative, announced by Chancellor Kent Syverud in June 2014 to ensure the success of the University in the challenging higher education environment.

Our objective as a community is to create a more connected, more robust center of learning and research that will best prepare our students for the world—now and in the future.

—Steven Einhorn ’64, G’67

The work to revitalize the campus is guided by the Campus Framework Advisory Group, composed of students, faculty, staff, and trustees and chaired by Trustee Steven L. Einhorn ’64, G’67, in partnership with design firm Sasaki Associates. Since fall 2014, students, faculty, staff, and alumni have shared their voices in what the future SU should look and feel like at meetings, informational sessions, and open house events, and through the My-Campus Survey, which garnered more than 3,000 responses from members of the campus community about how they use campus. “The Campus Framework is designed to align the University’s academic vision and mission with its buildings, landscapes, and infrastructure. This investment will ultimately enhance the Syracuse experience for all students. This campus is a vital center of 21st-century scholarly learning and research and its physical environment must continue to reflect that,” Chancellor Kent Syverud says. “The work of the Campus Framework Advisory Group and the input from the campus community, with the support of the Board of Trustees, have focused the priorities and opportunities that will grow and transform the campus for decades to come.”

While building on the historic footprint of the campus, the Campus Framework’s vision is to reinvigorate the physical campus through a more dynamic core that brings together all that makes for a comprehensive student experience—from academics and research to student life and athletics. It addresses five key recommendations: enliven the civic realm; revitalize the academic core; create a campus city community; integrate diverse, inclusive student life activities; and establish mixed-use neighborhoods. With those themes in place, the plans revolve around three major east-west promenades to structure the development and movement through campus—the Waverly Avenue Promenade, a streetscape improvement plan; the former University Place Promenade, now known as the “Einhorn Family Walk” as a result of a $1 million naming gift from Steven and Sherry Einhorn ’65; and the Academic Promenade, which will be situated on the south side of the Shaw Quadrangle.

Architectural rendering of the three promenades overlaid on a campus map
The draft Campus Framework re-envisions three major east-west promenades that will create an enduring physical structure for academic, social, and residential changes across campus. The Einhorn Family Walk (formerly University Place Promenade) was constructed this summer. The Waverly Avenue Promenade and the Academic Promenade will complete the transformation of movement through campus. Rendering courtesy of Sasaki Associates Inc.

The Einhorn Family Walk was one of more than 120 construction and renovation projects that took place during the summer as a result of the draft Campus Framework, which was released last spring and details short- and long-term priorities. With most students away from campus, the Office of Campus Planning, Design, and Construction began work at academic buildings, residence halls, and outside spaces and infrastructure. Future projects include the National Veterans Resource Complex; a renovated Schine Student Center; a revitalized Bird Library; new student housing on Main Campus; and the West Campus development, including the construction of the “Arch,” a renovated Archbold Gymnasium into a state-of-the-art health and wellness complex, and renovation of the Carrier Dome. 

“Our objective as a community is to create a more connected, more robust center of learning and research that will best prepare our students for the world—now and in the future,” says Steven Einhorn, a fellow of the American Institute of Architects. “The Campus Framework allows us to imagine, develop, and construct how to get there.”

Deeply committed to hearing community feedback, the advisory group continued with sessions into the fall and plans released a Campus Framework Full Report in May 2017. “The draft Campus Framework is driven by the ideas, concerns, and suggestions that come from the campus community,” says Peter Sala, vice president and chief campus facilities officer. “We need that input to help steer the progress and ultimately transform this campus.”

Kathleen Haley

This story was first published on December 14, 2017 and last updated on . It also appeared as “Campus Transformation” in the Fall/Winter 2016 issue of Syracuse University Magazine.