Global firm to help Lafayette implement first master plan in nearly a decade

President+Nicole+Hurd+encourages+students+to+offer+their+input+for+the+campus+master+plan.

Photo by Patrick Hansell for The Lafayette

President Nicole Hurd encourages students to offer their input for the campus master plan.

Lafayette has partnered with the architectural firm SmithGroup to undergo its first master plan in seven years. As a way to reevaluate the physical space on campus and consider areas where it could be improved, the master plan will be integral to the college as it undergoes a strategic campaign and fundraising effort to mark its bicentennial in 2026.

The SmithGroup, which has centuries of experience in architecture and design, is currently in the beginning stages of implementing the master plan. The firm is separating the project into three stages: understand, explore and realize.

“We are at the beginning of the Understand phase,” Kevin King, the principal of campus planning for the SmithGroup, wrote in an email. “We are collecting data about the campus, touring facilities, and listening intently to stakeholder groups to develop an understanding of the key issues the college is facing.”

President Nicole Hurd said that the SmithGroup will depend heavily on community feedback. 

SmithGroup plans to open up forums and develop surveys to connect with students, faculty and alumni. Specifically, the survey tool MapMyLafayette, which will be uploaded on MyLafayette and be accessible via QR codes on posters around campus, will help compile input.

MapMyLafayette will provide important insights into a ‘day in the life’ of those who interact on the campus,” King wrote. “SmithGroup will also conduct several on-campus ‘pop-up’ engagement sessions generally scheduled around Common Hour to allow anyone in the campus community to stop by and offer their views on the future of Lafayette.”

Further data collection will act as a starting point for these open forums which will occur in the early months of the spring semester. Input from these types of events will then allow SmithGroup and Lafayette officials to initiate a finalized plan.

“I need everyone, especially our students, to participate,” Hurd said. “Our students have lots of passion, whether that’s for thinking about sustainability or it’s thinking about housing and our dorms or dining …  I need all those viewpoints to be involved.”

Much of SmithGroup’s work will focus on the physical condition of Lafayette’s infrastructure. A major goal is to promote Lafayette’s mission to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035.

“SmithGroup will examine the condition of buildings to determine those which need investments,” King wrote. “The goal is to develop a unified plan which addresses the needs of the college in relationship with our adjacent communities.”

Lafayette’s campus master plan will focus on the long-term development of the campus, but many significant renovations are already underway. This fall, Lafayette excavated property that will soon become a new residence hall on McCartney Street. Another major enterprise will supplant the pre-existing Kunkel Hall with a new Simon Center, a project that will be likely ready by the fall of 2024.      

The finalized master plan will likely be formally announced by the end of the 2023 calendar year.