A master plan for IUPUI

February 21, 2009
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IU Master PlanIndiana University has released a master plan for its Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses that suggests some dramatic changes over the next several years. The plan for IUPUI suggests Michigan and New York streets be converted into two-way thoroughfares with center medians as part of an effort to better connect the campus and make it more walkable. It also envisions larger and taller buildings (shown at right) to enhance the urban appeal, along with the development of Vermont Street as a "vibrant urban streetscape" and the use of the Blackford Street area as an extension of the Cultural Trail. Ultimately, the goal is to better connect the campus to White River and downtown. The plan was created by Washington, D.C.-based architectural firm SmithGroup/JJR. You can check out some highlights of the plan, including more detail on the proposals for the Bloomington campus, here and here. Thoughts?
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  • Great news for the City of Indianapolis. IUPUI today is like an island with the White river as a boundry to the west and south, West street to the east and Indiana avenue to the north (neither Indiana nor West are pedestrian friendly). Density and cohesiveness is needed to make this campus attractive. Not strictly from an aesthetic perspective, but make it attractive for people to participate in. The goal is to have people spend time cultivating the campus/culture and not just park the car go to class and then immediately following drive home. I live on New York street and the
  • The great president McRobbie calls his master plan a foundation for the future! What does he think what the two campuses have already developed over the years represent - a basement??? Is this just another example of academia with unrealistic, preposterous, and overzealous plans? And who will foot the bill for all of this new foundation - why the taxpayers, of course; that is if they have any money left after all of the congressional foolishness is completed.

    Let's look at the fantastic (some call it world class) Track and Field Stadium at IUPUI. The great pres McRobbie doesn't want it - it's in the way of his plan. Does anyone else see this as a huge waste of resources? And then who will pay for changing the streets to two-way and all of the construction costs to fit McRobbie's great plan - why the taxpayers of course!

    As for me, I've had enough of the outlandishness from the once great, once proud institution in Bloomington. Perhaps something more realistic would be in order, don't you think?
  • Wonderful.
    This is what IUPUI needs.
  • The track and field venue is crumbling. It needs serious work... don't expect the CIB is going to help and IUPUI doesn't really need it anymore. Should IUPUI waste taxpayer dollars renovating a facility that is really only used by USA Track and Field?
  • So why has IUPUI, unlike its neighbor to the north Marian College, never strategically taken advantage of the world-class Pan Am Games facilities on its campus (track & field stadium, natatorium) to develop NCAA championship caliber teams in those sports? Marian is a perennial cycling power.

    So much for visionary master planning at IUPUI.

    And don't even get me started on the streets, river, and IUPUI's sea of parking adjacent to downtown. THEY created the island effect. THEY put their campus housing by the river instead of the Canal or Indiana Avenue. The oldest university in the US (Penn in Philadelphia) and its next-door neighbor Drexel have both somehow survived decades with one-way streets running both ways (N-S and E-W) through their urban campuses, and their students somehow live through the experience of urban jaywalking.

    Indianapolis, lacking expressway links inside 465, needs its urban arterial pairs in Center Twp., including New York and Michigan . Those pairs become more important if we are ever to have good bus transit in this city.

    And finally, we have a number of really good urban planners in this city. Probably because they all have degrees from BSU, IU went out of town for their plan. How small and parochial can you get?

    I hope this plan turns into shelf paper.
  • Well stated Thundermutt, and a formidable triubte to the continued mismanagement of facilities, programs and legacies by the once formidable institution. And now, without even a tinge of vision into their past mistakes, they expect the city of Indianapolis and the taxpayers to cheer them on. I say no way, Mr. McRobbie!
  • I think this is a fabulous plan, as a grad of IUPUI, I have spent a lot of time there and I have always wondered why they have not built taller buildings to make more of the space that they have. As for Michigan, it is like playing Froggert to get across there. I do agree that the parking lots could be in better places. But I think this is a good plan for the campus and the city.
  • Two-way traffic sounds like a great improvement for the campus. This meshes well with the Near East Side's GINI Quality of Life Plan, which makes the same recommendations for New York and Michigan Streets, east of downtown. http://www.indyeast.org/

    We are not exactly comparable to Philadelphia. That region has four times the population of the Indy MSA. It also has no freeway from the west side into downtown. Indy has I-70, in addition to Washington, 10th & 16th Streets, none of which are exactly choked with traffic. I really don't foresee major traffic congestion if these streets are converted to two-way.
  • The most important thing needed is autonomy for this campus and secession from the IU system. IU will work best when it concentrates its efforts on the Bloomington campus. IUPUI is a Frankenstein's monster of a university sewn together from spare parts of IU and Purdue. Set it free and give it a new name so people will realize it's a different university.

    One way motor traffic makes the best sense for NY and Michigan Streets. The cheap way to alleviate the problem walking across campus is to put a median strip down both streets that is wide enough to give pedestrian refuge, so you only have to cross one lane of motor traffic at a time. True it will slow down motor travel a little but we don't want it going too fast through campus anyway. A better solution but not cheap is to raise Michigan and NY to a second story viaduct and let campus travel unimpeded under the streets at ground level.
  • Tem,

    You have to be kidding - raise the traffic to a second story? And just who would pay for that albatross, the taxpayers? If there is a problem with crossing those streets, just exactly what is wrong with the gerbil tubes they have already used and expanding them? Let's quit finding absurd ways to stifle traffic and let the Frankenstein Monster figure it out for themselves. The fact that they did no planning years ago put them in the mess they are in.
  • 2nd story traffic? No

    More gerbil tubes? No

    Peds and cars need to be able to co-exist. It just doesn't work well at faster than 30 MPH, and definitely not well at 40+ which I suspect is common there.

    I do like the idea of a new name that doesn't include IU and PU. That was really stupid. Almost as stupid as whomever thought the IU part should be referred to as ewwee. Rant over.
  • IUPUI's new masterplan, for the most part, is exactly what is needed to transform it into the true urban campus so many of us desire.

    My hope is that the university will become an educated advocate for better urban development not only on their campus, but throughout the Regional Center.
  • Why is it that IUPUI doesn't share the love with local professionals?

    We have a number of excellent designers that certainly could keep up with the latest and greatest buildings of IUPUI (Law School, Informatics, etc). It seriously bugs me that IUPUI continues to take their need for professional services out of town, then come back to town when they need local support. If IUPUI isn't going to support their ideas and plans locally from start to finish, they won't get my support for big changes.

    Once, a Univeristy Architect said we don't hire big name architects. The along comes Robert Stern & Associates to design a limestone box (cutting edge, let me tell you). The University regularly turns its back on local professionals as well as the City of Indianapolis (hey, let's a couple giant limestone boxes at the most prominent corners of the univeristy -- that will make a nice connection to the city). The university is in need of some serious grovelling.
  • FWIW, the Heron School of Art is an excellent example of what could be done better than the others...from a local firm.
  • I agree that IU has done poorly at maintaining and utilizing the Nat and the Track Stadium. Marian is a perfect example of how to utilize facilities on your campus. They not only are a national cycling force, but they have expanded on that to make the Velodrome a well used part of our City. IU should learn from that. Destroying the Track Stadium would be a major waste of taxpayer money.

    I also agree that the one way streets should remain one way. I dodged traffic there for years, and it is not impossible, or even difficult to do. Putting to two way traffic not only will congest traffic, at at a time when we do not need to, but it makes it more dangerous for pedestrians and cars. Every intersection will have multiple turn movements making it more likely to have accidents, and trying to cross 4 or 5 lanes of two way traffic means danger can come from anywhere. put a 10' center pedestrian median in the middle and have the IUPUI Cops run radar. by providing a refuge, peds only have to cross him two lanes at a time. Slowing down the traffic and synching the traffic lights will help as well.

    I agree with taller. IUPUI will quickly run out of land. Because they are landlocked, they cannot grow in any direction. So they need to go up now to save from having to demo down the road and build up later. There should not be another classroom or dorm that is not 5 stories or more. Create pods where a student in med major has most if his classes in one building. Put dorms in the upper floors that are med only. Do this for other majors as well.

    Finally, IUPUI does need to secede from both iu and Purdue. They missed out when ICU changed its name to Uof I. But IUPUI needs to quit being a step child of iu. Btown has no reason to let IUPUI grow the way it should, because it will draw away from the mother campus.
  • I *dream* of a good independent university in the middle of downtown, especially one with lots of resident students, not commuters. Right now IUPUI just seems confused, as tem said.

    I don't have strong feelings about the one-way streets, but *do* feel strongly that if Michigan and NY were built densely right to the edge of the sidewalk (with decent width sidewalks of course) that traffic would slow down. Right now the broad open lawns abutting the streets make drivers feel they are on a freeway, so why not zip along at 40+? And those open expanses make pedestrians feel too exposed and like they have too far to walk. It's just a lousy pedestrian environment all around.

    Also: Herron School of Art is not only an exceptionally well-done building, it's far and away the BEST art student facility I've ever been in (I've been in lots). If the rest of the campus was the same caliber The School Formerly Known As IUPUI could be a first-rate campus.
  • Donna,

    IUPUI does seem to be stepping up with the architecture. I'm sure your words are welcome to local architect Jonathan Hess (think Eiteljorg Museum) who designed the new Herron school. I don't know why he hasn't spun off his own firm yet, but when he does, he's getting my resume.

    Check out the law school as well if you haven't already. Interestingly, it was designed by SmithGroup (with Ratio as local). SmithGroup, despite being national, is top notch on the institutional side and I respect them a lot.

    IUPUI's Informatics building also looks good, but the interors are a train wreck...
  • Actually the second story road would be most useful for Michigan St., there isn't that much south of New York Street to justify the cost of raising that. There is a similar road on a larger scale just a few blocks away, it is Interstate 65 between Senate and Delaware. The advantage for thru traffic is it would essentially be a bypass of IUPUI and motor traffic could zip by out of downtown to White River without any stops. But I don't think it's the right way to go at this time, I'm just throwing the idea out there for consideration. With the concern about peak oil and all it might not be wise to spend a lot of money on projects that assume we'll be traveling by car the way we did in the 20th century.

    The University of Indianapolis has been trying to get the transportation department to make Hanna Ave. more pedestrian friendly for some time now, they have not had much luck with that, I don't know why IUPUI would think they could change the one way streets on their own. Maybe they have political pull that U of I doesn't.
  • This plan is definitely heading in the right drection. You are inside the downtown of the nation's 13th-largest city, starting developing like it. Planning 101, buildings up to the ROW, dormitory highrises with AIRCONDITIONING (sorry Wilkie alums), two-way traffic, absence of gerbil tubes, parking garages, etc.

    I have always thought that IUPUI should be named Indianapolis State University or something like that and a real push to get a Div I football team should be a priority. As a person who attended both the Indy and Bloomington Campuses, IUPUI is a totally dfferent school with dfferent graduaton req's. You cannot transfer and expect the same req's.
  • Surprisingly, I agree with Indyman on this one that IUPUI should take advantage of the track stadium rather than tear it down and those one-ways are important arteries. Making those two-one adds likely means the addition of left-turn lanes which slow the flow considerably.
  • Exactly, Indymoon. Add buslines to the left-turn mix, and you get complete traffic choking.

    Calming: ok. Choking: not.
  • If they were going with the two story road thing, then they should think of going down like Madison Ave, south of Lillys. you could still have the cross streets go across at ground level with pedestrian walkways as well. The nice thing is it would not visually divide the campus like I-65 does.

    Forget any Football team until IUPUI gets away from IU. It was like pulling teeth to be allowed to get a D1 bball team. Rumor has it that IUPUI had to make concessions to IU to get it. Restriction on recruiting and quality of facilities so that they do not suck players from IU.
  • That's right. We've got to keep that traffic moving through campus, and the rest of downtown, just as quick as can be. We wouldn't want to have traffic congestion. That's what sets us apart from all the big cities that we never want to become. That, and having almost zero vibrant areas for people to be outside their cars.
  • MDB said: Check out the law school as well if you haven’t already. Interestingly, it was designed by SmithGroup (with Ratio as local). SmithGroup, despite being national, is top notch on the institutional side and I respect them a lot.

    I'm not sure what you mean about the Law School: it sounds like you're impressed. In fact, and what is far more interesting about it, the Law School is a blatant copy of the Catholic University law school outside of Washington D.C. It's just so far away that no one ever recognizes that the architect took a generic building design and applied it to the IUPUI site without real concern for site location, campus design, or its proximity to the City.

    Cookie cutter design, whether big or small, just doesn't impress me much. Yeah, actually, it's pretty depressing considering that particularl location.
  • Putting Michigan Street underground like indyman said ought to be even better than raising it aboveground. I would guess though that there is all kinds of steam pipes, cables, water lines, sewers, power lines under Michigan that would have to be moved. Also you're putting the pavement pretty close to the White River flood level, so you might have drainage problems. But if it is doable at reasonable cost, it would be a nice way to go. You could even put a few trees above the street.

    I never did like that IUPUI decided to call the basketball team the Jaguars, that's just too derivative. It wasn't even the students that came up with the name, like it oughta be in college, the administration paid some foreign corporate consulting firm big money to come up with that. If they do put in any more gerbil tubes the IUPUI Fighting Gerbils would be a better name.
  • Has the powers that be tried to leave campus during rush hour during bad weather? Even with all four lanes of New York and Michigan exiting the campus its still bumper to bumper traffic. One hour to get from University Blvd to West St is the norm with weather gets nasty, then make it two lanes on New York and two lanes on Michigan. An have a pity for the poor patients and their familys going to Riley or University Hosp. If they can get lost now, boy it will only get worse if this debacle getsoff the ground. But this will take money, city money and unless its going to make someone some money the Mayor going to not going to listen to in.
  • Idyllic,
    I'm trying to understand your point here. Do you propse to increase congestion to get people out of their cars? Ideally, it would be nice to reduce traffic on campus by increasing use of public transportation. But can that happen? What's the status of the IndyGo Red line that went from Dtown to IUPUI? I thought that was discontinued.
  • Making New York and Michigan two-way streets are a must if you want to capture people to campus.

    With bloomington being less than an hour away, the larger, taller buildings don't seem feasible.
  • That's assuming someone thought Bloomington was a step up......NOT
  • The Red Line is still running for now, it's just charging $1.75 for the trip. Since the route is so short, it would be about as cheap, and more convenient, for a group of 3 or 4 to take a taxi (if you could find one). Thus, I suspect the ridership numbers will be way down and it won't be running too long, unless maybe a lot of its riders already have monthly passes.

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