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Villanova’s 170-year-old campus grounds are home to a rapidly growing collection of quality modern architecture, design and, most importantly, sustainability.

 

As part of the integration of the University Strategic Plan and Campus Master Plan, the “Transformation of the Campus Landscape” is coming to a much awaited close.

 

Since May 2011, the University has been feverishly working to improve Villanova’s primarily concrete environment into more picturesque, green grounds.

 

The third and final phase of the project is planned to conclude this October.

 

As we wander around campus this fall, maneuvering through the new roadwork, all the while wondering how we managed to tardily arrive to our first day of classes, remember to keep in mind the end result of this project: to create a more aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly Nation.

 

Described by the University as a “bold, three-year, $22.5 million project—approved by the Villanova Board of Trustees in December 2010,” the campus transformation eagerly aims to enrich the overall Villanova experience.  Throughout main campus, numerous features of the University have been completely updated through the three phases of the project.

 

Construction of Phase I began in May of 2011 with the plans to reroute vehicular traffic around campus.  New bollards and check-in points were established, along with new parking facilitating features, including a vehicle turnaround in the Kennedy lot and digital signage denoting space availability for the SAC lot.  Additionally, the University added parking places on the east side of CEER.

 

In May of 2012, Phase II of the project began, which transformed the Grotto and Kennedy Ellipse.  The area between both St. Rita and Austin Halls became the new home of the Grotto.  Resembling a small amphitheater, the Grotto can host around 20 to 30 people.  Additionally, the area between Kennedy Hall, Corr Hall, Dougherty Hall and the Connelly Center, formally known as the Kennedy Ellipse was completely revamped.  In the hopes of creating that quintessential college meeting green, the ellipse is home to the Oreo sprawling upon open, attractive grass.

 

Currently, Phase III is underway.   Scheduled to complete in October, the plans to transform the areas around Corr and Alumni Halls will create “a new, communal green space for the University.”  New features will enhance the overall layout of the academic section on main campus.  A state-of-the-art fountain is set in place on the lawn of Alumni Hall, one of the oldest buildings on campus.  Surrounding the fountain will be green spaces for students to enjoy and relax, along with flowers and shrubs that have been relocated to enrich the space.  Additionally, a granite patio is being developed in front of Corr Hall.  Hoping to serve as a space for formal events such as the new student orientation mass, small graduations, possibly for the College of Engineering and the College Nursing, the outdoor porch area will provide the University with more intimate settings, distinct from the traditional Pavilion-style event.

Additionally, construction is also taking place along Dougherty Drive, the area around the Kennedy Hall parking lot and the Connelly Center plaza/circle.  Accessibility is key in this project, especially for the Connelly Center.

The project plans to redesign the plaza in the hopes of creating two similar main entrances for the Connelly Center, imitating the entrance across from Dougherty Hall.

University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O. S. A. said the project is a means to continue “to further strengthen our tradition of excellence and ensure that Villanova thrives for years to come.”

Incorporating environmentally friendly aspects, the campus project shows Donohue’s fierce advocacy for open spaces, lack of boundaries and overall free green areas for students to enjoy.

Current students, faculty, staff and later generations of the Villanova community members will reap the benefits of this modern landscape transformation. Overseeing the campus landscape project and phase three of construction is Robert Morro, associate vice president for Facilities Management.  Like the rest of the University community, Morro values the importance of sustainability in these crucial times of environmental uncertainty.  The quality of the transformation has held to top-of-the-line environmental standards.

From the natural building materials to the LED lighting, the campus transformation illuminates the mission of environmental conservation and preservation.  Labeled as a “green project,” the goal to preserve the integrity of the previous landscape was demonstrated with the planting of 350 new trees as well as the relocation of 50 trees and various bushes and shrubs.  Additionally, strictly native plants were integrated into the campus in order to ensure longevity and adaptability of the new vegetation.

In terms of recycling, students may observe large dumpsters lingering around campus.

In order to reduce and reuse waste, a mixed recycling process was utilized.   A third party company sorts construction debris, ensuring the salvaging of waste. Sustainability exists even below the surface, under the physical appearance of the newly laid blue stone and granite.  Beneath the aesthetically pleasing walkways exists a storm water retention base with pipes between six and eight feet in diameter.

Despite the complexity of its operation, the goals of this project are simple: to create a more pedestrian friendly atmosphere and to generate outdoor living spaces for all to enjoy, no matter the season.  In order to achieve these goals, the transformation plans to integrate the form and function of the existing aspects of the University.

Keeping up with Villanova’s identity, the design of the project is traditional; blue stone walkways, granite steps, and open greens will be frequently travelled by the student body.

Home to 254 acres, Villanova formerly held status as an official arboretum.  However, over the years, the University chose not to keep up with the environmental standards required for the title.

Now, the “Transformation of the Campus Landscape” will encourage the University to preserve and appreciate the newly generated green spaces and remind the community of its roots as a tree-lined environment.

 

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