Monday, June 14, 2010

Marylhurst University from the Air

We have worked for years on the Master Plan for Marylhurst University in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Last year the first two phases of construction were completed. When we started Marylhurst had a stunning campus setting, bounded on the East by the Willamette River and surrounded by lushly vegetated ravines that set it apart as a green Island within a growing suburb. However, despite it's acres of green lawn and beautiful mature trees, it had only one short sidewalk and a critical parking shortage that caused students to race around in their cars looking for a space to park. Unfortunately since there were no sidewalks people were also walking in the same drives and parking lots to get between buildings.

The design problem was how to increase parking and also separate pedestrian circulation without paving over the green campus. As it turned out there was enough "paved surface" to park the cars necessary - it was just poorly utilized and laid out, giving the impression there was no where to park. The parking areas were poorly distributed in terms of the buildings where students were trying to get to class. The changing character of education had also to be taken into consideration with greater use of online classes and less need to be on campus. Public transit was also considered, however, service to this suburban location was slim and the transit agency refused to route buses onto the campus to make it more convenient for students and faculty.

The design solution was to split the main entry road so that parking was better distributed on either side of campus to free the campus interior for pedestrian circulation only. Parking lots were laid out with angled parking, which is faster to get into, and if you found one lot full the exit drive lead you directly into the next lot. The result being that on campus traffic is now dispersed and it takes much less time to find a space and park your car. We also utilized parallel on street parking along the access drives to reduce the amount of paved area and to provide a safety buffer between campus traffic and pedestrian sidewalks.

With half of the Master Plan implemented so far, it is noticeably easier to drive on campus and the ability to walk on campus is greatly enhanced. And while some may lament the loss of green space for new roads, in the end the plan does not significantly increase the amount of paved area that existed before. And there are now stronger pedestrian connections between buildings and new areas for students to congregate outside in the beautiful park like setting.


  1. what happened to my clock tower?

  2. Its still on the plan, lets hope we can get it built in Phase 2.