Picture perfect image lacking at BGSU
Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel-Tribune Editor
Monday, 24 June 2013 08:19
Bowling Green State University only has one chance to make a good first impression on prospective students and their parents. But the school's mismatched buildings, parking lots on the fringe of campus and lack of consistent landscaping does not project the postcard image that many seek.
So on Friday, the BGSU Board of Trustees listened to plans to spruce up landscaping, create picturesque entrances to campus and form standards for future building designs.
Steve Krakoff, head of capital planning for BGSU, noted that universities often fall into two categories of building design - those that stick to one style and those that don't.
Miami University, for example, has remained consistent with Georgian style buildings on campus, Krakoff said. In contrast, the University of Cincinnati is known for its "riotous array of styles."
BGSU has "diverse architectural aesthetics," with each building representing the design of the period it was constructed.
"We've got a hundred years of history on this campus," with different building designs reflecting that, Krakoff said. "Each proudly represents the architecture of its day."
But that diversity is met with criticism by some who prefer a more consistent architecture. Krakoff mentioned a couple non-traditional buildings as the Jerome Library and the new Wolfe Center for the Arts.
Krakoff asked the trustees to consider coming up with uniform standards for future buildings on campus. The standards could provide for some freedom of architectural expression - but not so much that future buildings clash with existing structures.
The standards could cover such items as exterior colors, and could allow for the evolution of design and consistency at the same time, he said.
The trustees took the recommendation under advisement, but wanted to study the materials Krakoff had gathered before adopting any standards that future trustees would have to follow.
Krakoff also presented plans Friday for a "simple and elegant" landscaping plan that could transform the look of the campus.
"This is not just a bunch of trees and bushes," he said.
"The outdoor environment is every bit as important" as the buildings on campus, Krakoff said.
Currently the initial impression is lacking for visitors entering from Interstate 75, from Ohio 25 and from downtown Bowling Green, he said.
As part of an overall master plan for the university, Krakoff said new attractive gateways to campus are planned on Thurstin Avenue, where the Administration Building will be torn down opening up a new "reconnect with the city."
Another "entry plaza" is planned off Wooster Street at South College Avenue.
"Today it's an asphalt parking lot - not attractive in any way," Krakoff said.
And a campus "promenade" is planned at Mercer Road and Wooster Street, with water features, seating, landscaping and "pedestrian amenities."
The "library mall" will be enhanced by the demolition of the Education Building. And on the northwest side of campus, landscaping will be used to unite it with the rest of campus. "We have some challenges here," Krakoff said.
The effort to make a good first impression will extend further, with plans to make BGSU's presence known to motorists on I-75.
"We want to reclaim that front door," Krakoff said. Conceptual drawings were presented showing BGSU's name on the Wooster Street overpass and a sign announcing the I-75 exit as the home of BGSU along with landscaping in the grassy areas at the exit ramps.