Regional Relations

Overview of Campus Master Plan

What is the plan?

The University has developed a new Campus Master Plan that will guide the future development of the Seattle campus. It was approved by the Seattle City Council in December of 2002 and by the Board of Regents in January 2003.

The new plan determines how the Seattle campus can grow over the next decade and beyond in response to increasing student enrollment and research demands, while preserving the beauty of its physical environment and minimizing any impacts on its neighbors.

The new Master Plan:

  • Identifies which areas of campus will be preserved as open space
  • Establishes what the circulation patterns will be, including where streets and pathways will go
  • Establishes where parking will be located and how vehicles, pedestrians, and bicycles will travel through campus
  • Specifies sites where new building can occur and sets design guidelines for how those sites can be developed
  • Identifies how the University will manage its growing transportation needs
  • Determines how future development will integrate with the key strategies identified in the University Community Urban Center (UCUC) plan and Sound Transit’s proposed light rail system.

The following are some of the questions that were examined as the new Master Plan was developed:

  • What will the Seattle campus look like in the next 10, 20, 30 years?
  • What open spaces on campus will be preserved and enhanced?
  • What will happen to the views and vistas?
  • Where will new development occur?
  • How will we meet the increase in student enrollment?
  • How will future development be integrated with the surrounding community?

Why Write a New Master Plan?

The University’s previous 10-year master plan, the General Physical Development Plan (GPDP) was drafted in the late 1980s. To keep pace with a rapidly changing educational and funding environment, the University needed a new plan that would allow it the flexibility to respond to the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Developing this new plan was a critical part of preparing the University for the next century and ensuring that it can continue to provide a high quality education, fulfill its public service mission and remain one of the nation’s leading public research universities.

Some of the key challenges the University will face in the future include:

  • Enrollment Growth: Student, faculty and staff enrollment at the UW’s Seattle campus is projected to grow by 9,000 — approximately 3,000-4,000 students and 5,000 additional faculty and staff — over the next ten years. This projected growth is in response to an increasing college-age population, a rising demand for higher education, and other research and educational needs. To accommodate this growth, the UW anticipates developing about 3 million additional square feet of space over the next decade.
  • Funding: In the past, the University has received most of the funding for its building projects from the state. Today, state funding for capital projects is growing tighter. The University must now seek new ways to generate funding.
  • Research and Education: The research and educational environment is growing increasing dynamic – technology is rapidly changing and new fields of study are emerging. Remaining on the frontiers of education and research will require even greater flexibility and innovation.

A Plan That Will Build On the Past

Although the new plan is taking a different approach than previous plans, it will build upon the foundation laid by a long tradition of physical planning for the Seattle campus that extends back to the turn of the century.

Since 1962, the University’s planning effort has taken into consideration the urban neighborhoods surrounding the campus. As the entire Seattle community grew, the University, neighborhoods and city of Seattle recognized the need for more coordination and adopted a joint statement of goals and policies in 1977.

In 1983, that joint statement was revised and strengthened by the City-University Agreement, which outlined the contents of the University’s master plans and established a process for developing, reviewing and approving them. In addition, the agreement recognized the importance of the City/University Community Advisory Committee (CUCAC) in providing community input into the planning process. CUCAC is currently comprised of 16 representatives appointed by the surrounding communities.

The City-University agreement was revised in 1998 by the University and surrounding communities working together. The new agreement continues to recognize the important role of CUCAC in providing feedback to the University in its master planning efforts. CUCAC co-sponsored the University’s public meetings on the Master Plan. Under the City-University agreement, CUCAC also co-convened the University’s formal public hearing on its preliminary Plan.

In addition to the revision of the City-University Agreement, the University of Washington has been deeply involved in several other planning efforts. The University participated in the development of the University District’s neighborhood plan that was adopted under resolution by the Seattle City Council. The University will be working to ensure that its new Master Plan complements elements of the neighborhood plan.

A Vision for the Campus

To lay the foundation for a new Master Plan for the Seattle campus, the University launched a special “Campus Visioning” project to find out what members of the campus and surrounding community value most about the campus and want to see in its future.

The project, lead by faculty in the department of Landscape Architecture, was the first of its kind for the University. Starting in spring, 1998, the project solicited input from students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community through surveys, focus groups and an interactive Web site.

People were asked about their favorite places on campus, what inspired them and how important the physical environment was to their work and scholarship. Their responses show a tremendous pride and appreciation for the beauty of the campus and the importance of the physical surroundings in nurturing the work and scholarship that goes on here.

A New Planning Approach

Meeting the challenges of the next decade calls for more than just a new plan – it calls for a new approach to planning. The new Master Plan is more conceptual than the past plan, the GPDP. The new Master Plan:

  • provides a framework for campus development by identifying open spaces, circulation patterns and building sites
  • sets development standards to ensure a future project is appropriate for a particular site
  • identifies the University’s projected population increase and development needs to allow the University to plan for and manage increased growth

Unlike the GPDP, the new plan does not designate site-specific building projects for the next ten years and beyond but does outline the general use for each site. Decisions about specific projects will now become part of the University’s ongoing capital planning process to allow for regular and thorough campus wide review.

Under the terms of a 1998 City University Agreement, the University Board of Regents and the Seattle City Council approved the plan. City Council approval took place in December of 2002 and Regental approval in January of 2003. It will remain in effect until the 3 million square feet is built or a new Master Plan is adopted.

Who Was Involved in the Development of the Master Plan?

University of Washington Board of Regents: Governing board of the University, responsible for approving the new Campus Master Plan.

Master Plan Advisory Committee: Provides guidance and oversight to the master planning process. This committee, appointed and chaired by Executive Vice President Weldon Ihrig, is comprised of representatives from faculty, staff and students from throughout campus.

City/University Community Advisory Committee (CUCAC): Advises the city of Seattle and University on the orderly physical development of the greater University area. CUCAC is comprised of 16 representatives appointed by surrounding communities and is playing a key role in providing community input into the planning process. CUCAC is also co-sponsoring the Master Plan public meetings.

Seattle City Council: Responsible for approving the Campus Master Plan.

Master Plan Working Group: Responsible for the detailed development of the plan. This group is comprised of key University staff and consultants involved with campus planning.

  • Theresa Doherty, Assistant Vice President for Regional Affairs, chairs the group
  • Jan Arntz, Environmental Planner
  • Brodie Bain, architect with Mithun Partners
  • Lee Copeland, Mithun Partners and UW Architectural Consultant
  • Marilyn Cox, Director of Capital and Space Planning
  • Peter Dewey, Transportation System Manager
  • T.C. Richmond, Assistant Attorney General
  • Pam Stewart, Director of Planning and Facilities Infrastructure for Computing & Communications
  • Bill Talley, Campus Landscape Architect

Architectural Consultant: Lee Copeland and Brodie Bain worked to draft the plan. Copeland has a long history with the University. He served on the faculty from 1964-1979 and as dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Planning from 1972-1979. He is also currently the University’s Architectural Advisor.

Transportation Consultant: DKS Associates of Portland, Oregon were hired to help develop a new Transportation Management Plan. DKS has extensive experience working on transportation analysis and planning with major universities including the University of Washington.

Environmental Impact Statement Consultant: Huckell/Weinman, with consultants Terry McCann and Richard Schipanski, have managed some 13 EIS projects for the University, including the University’s East Campus area and Indoor Practice field. They have also successfully completed many EIS’s for other major institutions in the Seattle area. They have been part of the Seattle’s major institution planning process since its inception in 1981 and actively served as one of three consultants on a committee comprised of all the City’s major institutions, DCLU, Mayors Office, Department of Neighborhoods and the City Council to draft revisions to the Major Institutions Code.

2 Responses to “Overview of Campus Master Plan”

  1. Austin Gallagher says:

    From: Austin Gallagher []
    Sent: Monday, January 03, 2011 12:47 AM
    Subject: Question from

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    I would like to know when University of washington will release its next campus master plan and how many year does the current master plan spans?

    Looking forward to your answer.

    with warm regards,


    • kathyd says:

      The current Campus Master Plan was approved by the Board of Regents and the Seattle City Council in 2003. It will remain in effect until the development of the approved 3 million gsf is complete or a new master plan is approved.