VCU inviting feedback from university community for new master site plan

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At lunchtime in the lobby at James Branch Cabell Library, a map of the Monroe Park and MCV campuses gradually is being covered with colorful dots indicating the places where people study, live, collaborate and congregate.

“I think this is a really cool and interactive way to get feedback from the students,” said Hayley Zirkel, a senior graphic design major and marketing assistant for University Student Commons and Activities. “As you look up and down the line, students are really into finding where they live, or looking for their favorite place.”

Zirkel was one of several members of the Virginia Commonwealth University community offering ideas and feedback Tuesday at Cabell Library and the University Student Commons, where VCU held the first of three informal sessions for students, faculty, staff and members of the surrounding community to discuss their favorite places on VCU’s campuses and areas they would like to improve during the new master site planning process.

The master site plan identifies the physical framework necessary to support the university's strategic priorities, which are being defined through an ongoing strategic planning process. Meredith Weiss, Ph.D., vice president for administration, is leading the master site planning effort, which will continue through the end of 2018.

Nanah Baikamara was among the students who stopped to give feedback at the Commons.

“My favorite place on campus is probably the Commons, because there's food here,” said Baikamara, a junior biology major. 

Jan Altman, Ph.D., coordinator for cultural competence for the Division of Inclusive Excellence, scoured the map for buildings to mark.

“It's an interesting approach. The more I thought about it, the more I was able to think of things that are important to me that I would want them to take into account,” she said. 

Last month, VCU hired Ayers Saint Gross, an internationally recognized architectural, planning and design firm, to coordinate the development of the new master site plan. The firm specializes in master plans and building designs for higher education institutions and has worked with VCU on multiple projects over the past decade, including a campus space analysis, the Gladding Residence Center project and a student affairs master plan. 

Students, faculty, staff and members of the community are invited to attend two other sessions this week:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 1, from 5:15 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. in the University Student Commons, first floor Floyd Avenue entrance lobby. (Parking will be validated for off-campus visitors who participate in this session.)
  • Thursday, Nov. 2, from 11:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. in the McGlothlin Medical Education Center second floor lobby (near the crosswalk to Main Hospital) and in the Larrick Student Center lobby.

The university will announce additional opportunities to participate in the master site planning process in the months ahead. Updates will be provided at, on the VCU Facebook page, on Twitter at @vcumasterplan and via email. Send an email to to be added to the master plan mailing list.

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