The Blueprint for SJSU's Reimagined Future
By Mike Janes
The university’s new Campus Master Plan is re-envisioning the physical landscape to meet the future needs of our campus community and beyond.
Traci Ferdolage, Senior Associate Vice President for FD&O. Photo: Robert C. Bain
San José State University’s Campus Master Plan (CMP) serves as the long-range guide for accommodating projected growth, new academic and educational programs and emerging administrative needs of the institution. It builds upon the goals articulated in SJSU’s Transformation 2030 strategic plan — most notably, Goal #5, “Renew and Rebuild”— and provides a blueprint for future expansion applicable to campus land use and building, the public realm, mobility and infrastructure.
A campus master plan is not unique to SJSU, as each of the California State University (CSU) campuses is required to have one. (They can also be found on campuses across the nation.) It’s a critical roadmap for our university.
SJSU’s Facilities Development and Operations (FD&O) team has been doing a great job executing an inclusive, collaborative and engaging CMP process, conducting various town halls and frequent communication with the campus community via email and a website with the latest opportunities to get involved. Input received from community members to date has already helped inform a number of preliminary ideas and designs created by the CMP planning team, several of which are shown and described below.
“One of the things we've learned over the past 18+ months is that we must create spaces on our campus that further synergistic creativity and that foster community, not isolation,” said Traci Ferdolage, senior associate vice president for FD&O. “Those kinds of environments, though challenging at times to develop, make for a much more dynamic learning environment and student-focused campus. The same can also be said for our faculty and staff, and the types of environments that are best-suited for their teaching, research, and creative endeavors and work.”
Chris Shay, senior director of real estate and special projects in SJSU's facilities development and operations department, answers questions at an on-campus Campus Master Plan open house in November. Photo: Robert C. Bain
Members of the campus community discuss design aspects for the Campus Master Plan at a November open house. Initial concepts are expected to serve as a starting point for further conversation, creating an iterative process that will lead to more focused, refined plans. Photo: Robert C. Bain
The campus planning team has enlisted a highly skilled, experienced set of planning and design partners, including San Francisco-based Field Paoli Architects and Urban Field Studio, as well as Dalton Education Associates, who have all worked on campus planning projects for many CSU campuses. They possess a thorough understanding and appreciation for the importance of our built environment and its impact on how we learn, work and live in general.
The following images provide an idea of what SJSU might look like in a few short years. Keep an eye out, too, for more engagement opportunities in the months ahead — additional surveys, in-depth interviews, workshops, brainstorming opportunities and other creative tools to inspire our community to re-envision the future campus together.
The draft Campus Master Plan shows a new ceremonial entrance next to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library on 4th Street. When the Interdisciplinary Science Building is complete, the old Science Building can be replaced with a view into campus making Tower Lawn and Tower Hall more visible. The official sign would be placed here, where tours would start, prospective students would arrive, and families would take graduation photos. This view emphasizes the “collegiate” look for SJSU with its most historic buildings and landmarks.
The area around SJSU’s South Campus could become San José’s biggest destination for sports and entertainment. Recent improvements at South Campus support the events that draw so many students, alumni and fans. The CMP plan calls for strengthening the SJSU identity at the South Campus and making the edges more inviting.
San Fernando Street
New, taller, mixed-use buildings will line the edge of the Main Campus along San Fernando Street. Just past King Library, these new buildings form the new first impression of the Main Campus, with architecture that is distinctive and fitting for the university’s leadership in Silicon Valley. New entrances create a visible connection between SJSU and San José’s City Hall. The new streetscape supports the walk from BART, cyclists, skateboarders, and all manner of new micro-mobility devices.
The lobbies of new buildings will be designed around the user experience. The ground floor of these new buildings is full of life, with food venues, exhibit halls, and places for gathering and socializing. Students, faculty, staff and visitors will walk past exhibits, projects, classrooms, maker spaces and labs before they go on to their destination within the building.
You always know where you are by looking up at the tallest building on campus. The innovation tower would be a new landmark for the campus, which would help people orient themselves around the center of the Main Campus. Events would happen at the base, and everyone could see the views from the top.
The Central Plaza, located along the 7th Street Promenade, would expand beyond what it is today. The Student Union and new buildings that face the Central Plaza bring student services, a variety of food, and events together. The design of the plaza is flexible for large gatherings, but also includes many smaller spaces for outdoor studying, relaxing and contemplation. The trees and shade make it an ideal place to take a break and meet up with friends.
The programming of buildings now centralizes shared resources and services, and provides unassigned spaces for those who are taking an online class or working in between in-person classes. Buildings are designed to be tall to allow the base of buildings to take up less area, allowing for more open space.