Your questions and comments are vital to this process. Below is a list of frequently asked questions, organized by topic, and their answers. If you can’t find the question that’s on your mind, please submit your question through our contact form.
Can’t attend one of our structured sessions or have an idea that can’t wait? Please send it to us now!
1. What is a master plan and why do we need it?
The master plan identifies the physical framework necessary to support VCU's strategic priorities, which are defined through the university's strategic plan, Quest 2025: Together We Transform, and the VCU Health System strategic plan, Vision by Design. The master plan then takes those visions and recommends what physical facilities we need to bring that vision to fruition.
The goal of this planning effort is to develop a comprehensive and flexible plan that addresses the needs of the university and health system. It is a roadmap, or a guide, to be responsive to VCU’s developing needs and resources. A master plan is not fixed in stone and is subject to change especially in urban environments where growth can be dependent on real estate opportunities.
2. Why a new master plan?
VCU is growing and our strategic priorities are changing as a result of the new strategic plans. In the past, master plans have built on each other, for example the 2013 master plan was an update of the 2004 plan. But this one is different. The transformational nature of the strategic plan is driving a need for a fresh look at the master plan to reflect the university's emerging priorities.
In addition, there is a resurgence of the city of Richmond. We need a master plan that reacts to the growth of the city and acknowledges the role that VCU plays in creating this new energy in Richmond.
3. Who develops the master plan?
The University is committed to providing an open, thoughtful, transparent and inclusive master planning process designed to engage students, staff and faculty and our neighbors in the City of Richmond.
There were a number of internal committees that guided the development of the plan and combined expertise of building systems and high level strategic initiatives with ground level expertise. Ultimately the master plan was adopted by the BOV.
The planning team was led by Ayers Saint Gross, an internationally recognized architectural, planning, and design firm. The team also included a number of consultants, some local to Richmond that focused on campus heritage, landscape architecture - open space and streetscape, civil engineering, cost estimating, and financial feasibility.
4. How is the master plan used?
The master plan is a coordinated roadmap for VCU that sets forth recommendations of projects that align with our strategic priorities. As a state institution most of the funding for new buildings and renovations has traditionally been appropriated by the Commonwealth of Virginia. The plan prioritizes these projects and informs the capital budget requests that we submit to the state every odd year. The next six year capital budget request plan is due is 2019, just in time for us to use the newly adopted master plan.
5. Why the name ONE VCU?
ONE VCU reflects the commitment to a common vision and alignment of values and goals that transcends our parts to enhance our community's well-being and advance the VCU enterprise as a nationally preeminent urban public research university and academic health center.
ONE VCU is a vision for a collaborative roadmap for the University and Health System. It will transform the physical campus in a way that makes it more accessible, welcoming, and uniquely VCU in character and quality. It will also transform the indoor and outdoor environment in a way that promotes innovation and excellence, showcasing areas of national prominence, patient care, and community engagement.
6. Will all of the projects identified be constructed?
The master plan will identify and prioritize projects and infrastructure improvements and provide guidance on funding options. The university will evaluate the plan regularly and seek funding for its highest priorities in coming years.
1. Who is able to contribute to the master planning process? How can I get involved?
We want to hear from everyone, including faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni, and the Richmond community! The University is committed to providing an open, thoughtful, transparent and inclusive master planning process designed to engage the VCU community and our external stakeholders. There will be multiple structured opportunities, shown as “Key Engagement” on the Schedule to provide input and feedback throughout the process, but we welcome your thoughts at any time.
2. How are local neighborhood associations being included in this process?
We are working closely with Neighborhood Outreach through VCU’s Office Community Engagement. There is a standing meeting twice a year with the neighborhood association’s liaisons. We began these conversations immediate at the launch of the master planning process.
In addition, we have met with individual civic associations, been interviewed for neighborhood association newsletters and distribute information directly to the city council members for the neighborhoods they represent. When we have master plan updates, we directly notify neighborhood association presidents and liaisons via a mailing list and push info to them though the Office of Community Engagement.
We have built in multiple opportunities for community feedback throughout the process. We even have offered to validate parking for our neighbors to encourage participation in these events. We constantly encourage their feedback.
3. What have you done to ensure the community’s engagement in this process?
The first phase of the Master Plan was the Environmental Survey Phase which included an assessment of the existing conditions as well as engagement with stakeholders to determine the opportunities and challenges on campus. During the fall a series of informal input sessions attracted more than 400 participants. Meanwhile, those involved in the master planning process have met with a large cross-section of the VCU and Richmond community to detail the progress of the plan and to receive detailed input.
1. How is VCU coordinating their master planning effort with the City of Richmond?
The City of Richmond currently has a master plan in development, Richmond 300. Prior to the launch of either of these master plan processes, VCU began conversations with the Department of Planning and Development Review. We regularly briefed one another and provided input and feedback, meeting approximately bi-monthly.
In an effort to ensure cross-communication, Vice President for Administration Meredith Weiss serves on the Richmond 300 Advisory Council and University Planner Jeff Eastman serves on the Richmond 300 Land Use Working Group. The City's Director of Planning and Development Review served on a ONE VCU focus group and continues to serve on the VCU Architectural Review Committee.