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Planning and




As campus and facility planners, we often describe our work as pre-architectural. That is, we work to help our clients make decisions about mission- and vision-driven campus development, renovation and new construction. This activity is an essential step for orderly, effective campus renewal and growth and is an important precursor to architectural design - the development of concepts, drawings and specifications for construction of a new building.

So while our work is pre-architectural, it encompasses both planning and design.

Some definitions can be helpful:

planning noun

The act or process of making or carrying out plans; specifically: the establishment of goals, policies, and procedures for a social or economic unit <city planning> <business planning>


 A set of intended actions, through which one expects to achieve a goal.


Planning in organizations and public policy is both the organizational process of creating and maintaining a plan; and the psychological process of thinking about the activities required to create a desired goal on some scale. As such, it is a fundamental property of intelligent behavior. This thought process is essential to the creation and refinement of a plan, or integration of it with other plans, that is, it combines forecasting of developments with the preparation of scenarios of how to react to them. An important, albeit often ignored aspect of planning, is the relationship it holds with forecasting. Forecasting can be described as predicting what the future will look like, whereas planning predicts what the future should look like.


design noun

1. A plan (with more or less detail) for the structure and functions of an artifact, building or system.
2. A pattern, as an element of a work of art or architecture.
3. The composition of a work of art.
4. Intention or plot.
5. The shape or appearance given to an object, especially one that is intended to make it more attractive.
6. The art of designing

- wiktionary

Planning and design are different but similar, like fraternal twins. It is revealing that in the examples above design is often defined as dependent on planning.

Any good design has benefitted from the planning (however unconscious) that supports its execution.

Any good plan has benefitted from its intrinsic design and from designs that illustrate the plan.

Planning tends to the Apollonian, design tends to the Dionysian.

Planning is more aligned with craft while design is more aligned with art.

For individuals, planning can be spontaneous and nearly indistinguishable from design.

For complex organizations, formal planning is an essential foundation for design. The discipline, inclusiveness, analysis, prediction and order of planning informs campus design making it stronger and more integrated with institutional goals and vision.

We believe that serious planning is often overlooked or short-circuited by the excitement generated by a compelling design. For this reason, our approach to campus planning is to emphasize the planning process to ensure for our clients a solid basis for decision-making that is sensitive to change and can inspire multiple design solutions – executed by us or the many other talented designers at work today.

The quote below comes from a talk I heard 26 years ago given by John Whiteman, a former urban planning faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. I believe he credited someone else but I have been unable to track down the original source.

Do you want to influence the shape and character of a campus, neighborhood, city or nation, or would you rather decide the precise location of a window mullion?

- Anon.

This question summarizes how I feel about the relationship between planning and design and helps crystallize for me the importance of the planning activity and its benefits for colleges and universities.


George Mathey



The differences between the planning and design stages are perhaps most tellingly revealed by the ways we illustrate our thoughts at each stage. Planning graphics tend to be simple, germinal, suggestive, and in a very intentional way, not quite complete. The goal is to convey information and, hopefully a bit of spirit, but to leave room for multiple interpretations.

Design graphics in architecture, at least, can range from the loosely pictorial to the nearly photographic as the concept evolves into a design and then the detailed instructions for building.

Below are two drawing sequences that start with planning diagrams we prepared in our initial studies for the projects followed by drawings by the talented architects that were subsequently commissioned to translate the planning into exemplary building and campus environments.

The first of these illustrates an addition to the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College.

Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College


The second maps the development sequence from programming, through campus planning and building design. Our thanks and respects to the architects for the use of their drawings in this illustration of planning & design graphics.

American University in Cairo





PROJECTS In- Progress
We are just beginning a campus plan for The House of the Seven Gables, a national historic district on The National Register of Historic Places, in Salem, Massachusetts.

We are working with the science division at Skidmore College to develop a facility program for an expansion of the college’s science complex.

We are collaborating with Edgewood and Covenant colleges on new campus plans.

We are continuing our planning and programming assignment for the SUNY College of Optometry in association with the Bostwick Design Partnership of Cleveland.

Our campus planning for Stetson University is reaching the exciting stage of preparing campus design alternatives for meeting the client’s agenda for planning.

We continue our consulting to Davis Brody Bond AEDAS Architects for the expansion of the campus of Umm Al-Qura – a Saudi Arabian University that is expected to double in size to an enrollment of 100,000+ students by 2035.

In January we will be starting the facility program for the new campus of the University of Botswana in Maun.



Recently Completed Projects

  • We are just completing our work on a set of projects for Bowling Green State University - providing space needs assessment and projections for the master plans for the Main campus and the Firelands campus and preparing a facility program for new student housing on the main campus.
  • Our campus master plan for Chattanooga State Community College was completed last month.


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Creating Campus Solutions

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