Nestled in the heart of Midtown Atlanta, Tech’s campus serves as an ever-shifting and expanding urban oasis for its students, staff and faculty.
Spanning approximately 400 acres across Midtown, Tech’s campus is constantly undergoing changes in the form of new construction and renovation projects.
The Technique had the opportunity to interview Tameka Wimberly, the Senior Campus Planner for Georgia Tech Infrastructure and Sustainability regarding the Campus Comprehensive Plan (CCP) and its impact on both campus and the city of Atlanta.
According to a briefing released by the Georgia Tech News Center, “Planning is underway to develop the Comprehensive Campus Plan (CCP) — a living document that will inform how campus space can be utilized to support the growing and changing campus community for the next 10 years and beyond.”
Wimberly explained that the CCP “will inform approaches to areas such as (but not limited to): learning and research spaces, campus sustainability, transportation/transit, facilities maintenance, campus development, health and wellbeing, energy, and the workplace of the future.” She also elaborated that it will still “take approximately 12 months to develop the formal plan.”
The concept of campus planning is not a new one for the Tech campus. Tech’s first master plan was created in 1912. Since then, there have been subsequent iterations in 1948, 1952, 1965, 1991 and 1997. As detailed in the 1997 Campus Master Plan (CMP), the Master Plan functions as a living document and aims to be flexible and able to accommodate change, rather than serve as a dictate.
The flexibility of the masterplan is exemplified by the fact that prior to the CCP, the CMP — with the addition of update in 2004 — served as the Institute’s guiding principles for campus development.
The fact that the CMP withstood the test of time for more than two decades truly exemplifies the flexibility the plan has for working around the dynamic nature of the college campus. Since the creation of the CMP, Tech’s student body and even the surrounding city have drastically changed and diversified.
When asked how the CCP will cater to and accurately serve such a broad and diverse student body, Wimberly explained that their “goal is to better understand what is working well and what can be improved. To do so, the project team is actively soliciting student engagement and is working closely with both SGA and G-SGA to ensure we have ongoing participation with students.”
According to Institute Communications, the CCP was designed with the ability to work as a resource for Atlanta and its associated communities.
Wimberly relayed a statement supported by Institute Communications that said, “In visioning the school’s role and place within Atlanta, the Institute Strategic Plan [of 2020] calls for Georgia Tech to be an Anchor Institution, grounded in long-term partnerships with local communities. Georgia Tech will achieve this role with substantive input from internal and external stakeholders and in collaboration with external partners, to help Georgia Tech and the surrounding communities strengthen relationships and advance community and institutional goals and interests.”
The Atlanta Metropolitan area has recently seen a proliferation in gentrification, a process that furthers disparities in pre-existing socioeconomic stratifications by displacing poor communities during expansion efforts.
When asked whether new construction will strive to be ethical, especially in terms of respecting pre-existing communities and avoiding gentrification, Williams responded, “The scope of [the] CCP will reflect Georgia Tech’s role as an anchor institution and member of the community (both immediate and Atlanta as a whole) and include goals and initiatives to support that role.”
“The planning team is establishing a directory of ‘stakeholders’ comprising community members, commercial and institutional partners, and government agencies, who will, along with the Georgia Tech population (commuting, on-campus and virtual), to provide another layer of input, guidance and scrutiny to the CCP, where appropriate.”
Additionally, some of the latest trends seen in construction and expansion initiatives at the Institute have demonstrated a commitment to the idea of environmental sustainability.
From the Kendeda Building’s net-positive power output to LEED certified buildings supported by the U.S. Green Building Council across campus, it is evident that Tech is prioritizing green construction efforts.
This general trend extends to the CCP. In response to a question posed about sustainability efforts being embedded into new expansions, Wimberly responded, “Georgia Tech’s Comprehensive Campus Plan will inform approaches to using campus space in a more sustainable manner — environmental, economic and social — to support the growing and changing campus community including foreseeing and addressing the needs of faculty, students and staff as well as residents in surrounding neighborhoods.”
The areas highlighted by Institute Communications for advancing sustainability initiatives include but are not limited to learning and research spaces, student life spaces, campus sustainability, equity and accessibility, transportation, campus facilities and grounds, campus growth and development of the Atlanta campus, health and wellbeing, workplace of the future and connectivity to adjoining neighborhoods, and management of resources such as energy and water.