Master plan projects begin with grove revival

Renovated grove area

The Chicago Circle Memorial Grove at Taylor and Morgan streets will be improved this summer.

When students return to campus next fall, they’ll find a new and improved outdoor space waiting for them.

Work begins this summer on the area at Taylor and Morgan streets known as the Chicago Circle Memorial Grove — the first major project to come to fruition from the 2010 Master Plan.

Plans call for replacing the deteriorating asphalt walking path, updated landscaping, new outdoor seating and signs to mark the spot as a gateway to campus, said Mark Donovan, vice chancellor for administrative services.

“We want to maintain the informal atmosphere of the space but make it seem more open, friendly and inviting,” he said.

Campus administrators took student suggestions into consideration when planning the space.

Charles Hoch, a member of the campus committee implementing projects from the master plan, asked the Urban Planning and Policy Student Association to visit the grove and compile a wish list for the space.

“We got a really good conversation going,” said Hoch, professor of urban planning and policy.

“The students showed a real range of experience and knowledge, and by working together, they combined that knowledge and made it available for the leadership as advice.”

Student suggestions incorporated into the project include keeping the space open for a variety of events, adding signage as a gateway to campus and creating a walkway wide enough for pedestrians and bicyclists, Hoch said.

About 40 students helped in the planning process, said Ashley Sarver, the group’s president.

“As students in urban planning and policy, we’re learning to work with communities and people to make places better, so the project was right up our alley,” said Sarver, a graduate student in urban planning and policy.

The master plan also calls for a greener quad with fewer lecture centers.

“We’ll be able to see our work when we walk by it. It’s encouraging to have actual results.”

Improvements are scheduled to begin after commencement, Donovan said.

Once the project is complete, a campus committee will review the 2010 Master Plan to determine which project comes next, Donovan said.

The master plan, developed by consultants Booth Hansen, a Chicago architectural firm, and Hargreaves Associates, a San Francisco landscape architecture firm, suggests short- and long-term campus improvement projects.

Low-cost projects that could have an immediate impact include sprucing up green spaces, removing fences, adding more outdoor seating and campus signage.

Proposed long-term projects include expanding south or consolidating north of Roosevelt Road on the west side of campus; demolishing Lecture Centers B and E for a greener quad; new student housing between Taylor Street and Roosevelt Road on the east side of campus; a north quad near Harrison and Halsted streets; and relocating student services to a more central campus location.

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