Physical Plant

Campus Master Plan

Program Statement

Over the past 25 years, the IPFW campus has grown from a community of a few thousand students and one building to over 12,000 students, 10 academic buildings and several support structures. The physical growth over this time has been guided by a conceptual master plan developed by Johnson, Johnson and Roy. While this master plan has served the needs of IPFW well, it appears the time is right to revisit the master planning process and ask some basic questions about expectations for the next 25 years.

  • Does the current plan appear in concept to be consistent with the needs of a university in the 21st century?
  • Will the general growth pattern incorporated in the current plan accommodate the growth anticipated in the next 25 years?
  • Can the current plan be modified to accommodate future growth, or are more dramatic departures necessary?
  • Is the plan flexible enough to survive the unknown trends that lie ahead?
  • What can be done to facilitate orderly growth from the current campus core to adjacent lands available for development?

It is clear there are many general and even more specific questions to be addressed. The purpose of this program is to identify the issues that should be addressed by the proposed Master Plan Update and to provide all available data that may be helpful in the process.

The Fort Wayne Community 

 The IPFW campus enjoys a very strong relationship with the larger community of Fort Wayne. Several cooperative efforts have taken place with some joint involvement of the two entities. In addition, the educational mission of the campus attempts to keep a finger on the pulse of the community in order to be in a position to provide academic programs that are beneficial to the vitality of the area and of northeastern Indiana.

To whatever degree it is possible, the master plan must encourage the continuation of this positive relationship. The campus must have a character of its own, but must be readily accessible to and from the larger community of greater Fort Wayne and Allen County. Accommodations must exist for the creation of facilities that will one day house more ambitious common efforts. The creation of these facilities must, of course, allow the primary mission of the campus to continue unencumbered.

The business/industry environment will also have some effect on the growth of specific fields of study on campus. This will, in turn, have an impact on the physical nature of the growth plan. Since most of these factors cannot be safely predicted at this time, flexibility becomes a necessary element of the plan.

The IPFW Site 

The IPFW campus is situated on the east bank of the St. Joseph River and enjoys a pleasant physical relationship with the river, including an inlet that delineates the north and south campus areas, increases the shoreline distance, and provides increased visibility of the river from a large central portion of the campus. This is truly a positive feature in which the entire campus community takes pride.

The character of the campus is somewhat pastoral, especially in contrast with the increasingly commercial nature of the development of the surrounding community. This contrast has been nurtured as a conscious goal. This growing separation in character is envisioned as a positive phenomenon, as it contributes to the identity of the campus. Future development is generally expected to build on this trend.

Being adjacent to the river, the campus is well drained, but has been susceptible to flooding, and construction is subject to restrictions of a floodplain. This will pose some limitations on construction near the river itself .

A portion of the campus property is separated from the main campus by Crescent Avenue. This triangular trace of land is essentially undeveloped at this time. Just how it is to be used in the future is a major concern. Certainly, the possibility exists that this land will one day accommodate academic and/or recreational activities. In either of these cases, a better connection should be proposed to preserve a sense of campus unity.

Within the past few years, property on the west side of the river has become available to IPFW. Discussions aimed at identifying the nature of future development on this site are ongoing. The master plan must be expected to allow for flexibility in the development of this property and a reinforcement of the visual and physical relationships between it and the main campus.

Infrastructure Past  

The IPFW campus is currently equipped with a rather complete roadway and parking system. Campus entrances exist at Coliseum Boulevard (exit east, south, and west; entrance for westbound and northbound traffic only), Crescent Avenue (at two locations, one of which is only right turn in and out), and St. Joe Road.

Surface parking lots are distributed throughout the campus, primarily at the perimeter. Currently, no building is very far removed from parking. It is anticipated, however, that as the campus grows, it may move more toward a pedestrian character and, therefore, parking lots may gradually become more remote from the academic buildings.

One parking structure exists, and a second is under consideration. The exact location of this new facility and the traffic pattern in the vicinity may be determined before this master plan study gets underway.

Most buildings on campus are served by electrical power, natural gas, chilled water, and data and communication lines. Until several years ago, the campus used exclusively electricity for space heating. More recently, however, buildings have been using natural gas to produce steam for heating. Because of this earlier commitment to electricity, no central steam system is available.

A central utility corridor has been identified and buildings have traditionally been kept out of this designated area. Verification or alteration of this corridor and its planned extension will be an important element of the master plan.

Available data on the campus infrastructure will be provided with this program. Areas of concern include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:

  • Vehicular circulation
  • Parking
  • Exterior lighting and other site services
  • Topography and drainage
  • Exterior design, landscaping, etc.
  • Utilities distribution

The master plan should include growth schemes and any modifications to current status necessary to facilitate anticipated growth.

Past Planning Efforts

A master plan for campus development was done by Johnson, Johnson and Roy in 1967. This plan identified a conceptual growth pattern for campus and has been used through the construction of nine academic or academic-support buildings and one major parking structure. In these ensuing years, an architectural identity has been established, a campus core has emerged, and a pedestrian circulation spine has been created. Adequate building sites have actually been identified to allow this same plan to be used effectively for many more years. However, for a variety of reasons, it has been determined that the master plan should be reevaluated at this time.

Chief among the reasons for revisiting the master plan process is simply the number of years that have gone by since the original plan. Conditions can only be predicted so far in advance. It is reasonable that some of the "givens" established prior to the earlier study have changed in some way that could affect the outcome of such a plan. In addition, new priorities continue to surface. Questions can be asked today that were impossible to foresee a quarter century ago. Good planning dictates that these conditions be reviewed periodically.

In addition, the acquisition of property across the river and the need to modify the traffic flow into and out of campus have introduced new variables. It is time to look beyond the time frame of the original master plan, use the knowledge we have developed in the ensuing years, and chart a more tangible course of growth for the IPFW campus.

The Mission

The mission of the campus facilities and, therefore, the mission of the master plan, is to serve the academic mission of the institution. This mission includes general academic goals, academic goals unique to northeastern Indiana, and a strong service element toward the community. With these goals in mind, academic needs projections have been assembled and will be made available as a supplement to this program.

Community service may be more difficult to define and project. It must be remembered, however, that this is a vital element of the plan. Outreach and joint venture programs will necessarily be a part of future campus development.

The Vision

The vision for the IPFW of the future is encumbered with few limitations. The master plan must not limit the growth potential nor character the development could ultimately take. The population of Fort Wayne and surrounding areas is such that both academic and enrollment growth could eventually yield a campus more akin to the university than the traditional regional campus.

The planning effort should be carried out without the limitation of the regional campus model.


The essence of the task at hand is more easily stated in terms of the specific questions and priorities that have been identified. This input is the result of facilitated meetings with select campus personnel. The priorities expressed are as follows:

Allow for future development of student housing

While the mission of the campus, as stated by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, does not include student residentially, the campus community feels strongly that the possibility of developing some form of housing should be maintained by any long term planning done today. This kind of development will not necessarily be traditional dormitories, but could take many forms in an attempt to make an IPFW education available to a larger community. This larger community could include more married students and families, with child care facilities as part of the mix. Other "nontraditional" students could be accommodated with housing, as well as traditional students who are attracted by the unique academic programs at IPFW, but who live too far from campus to commute.

Provide high quality instructional space

The quality of spaces for learning is still of the highest importance to most of the university community. To whatever extent it has an effect, the master plan should allow the finest facilities possible.

The most difficult task in responding to this priority is the changing nature of the learning environment. Traditional classrooms, teaching laboratories, student-faculty interaction space and study space must continue to be designed with performance in mind. In addition, other features of the learning spaces, such as accessibility, flexibility, and aesthetic character are becoming more important.

Allow for effective movement of vehicular traffic

As the population of the campus increases, vehicular traffic in and out of the campus area, volume of traffic on campus, and the demand for parking all increase. As this trend continues, three specific needs must be met.

First, drives and roadways throughout the campus area must be designed in such a manner to accommodate the volume of traffic with minimum congestion while maintaining safety.

Second, adequate parking must be provided through some combination of surface lots and parking structures to respond to the demands of each area of campus.

Third, a relationship must be developed between the campus and its parking to establish a pedestrian expectation. This means that while parking should be as convenient as possible, a perceived separation must exist to discourage the expectation that parking will always be available within steps of a given destination on campus.

Maintain high quality aesthetics

The general attitude on campus is that the aesthetic quality of campus buildings varies. Furthermore, little has been done to develop aesthetic amenities in the spaces between those buildings since the construction of the plaza near the Walb-Helmke complex.

The philosophy of the administration has always been that the whole is greater than the parts and, as a result, our goal should be to design buildings that contribute to an overall campus character rather than to create buildings that stand alone as architectural "masterpieces." This should not, however, justify poor design.

As the campus takes physical form, the campus amenities are quickly moving up on the priority list. This master plan study should recommend several potential exterior features, including "people spaces" that could be developed to contribute to the overall character of campus. It may also make recommendations on the appropriateness of the current palette of materials being used on campus buildings.

Provide for the educational needs of the community

A particular mission of the regional campus is to determine and respond to the changing educational needs within the community. The physical facilities can serve this mission through the development of a campus that facilitates interaction, both physically and electronically, and by providing flexibility to allow the academic programs to change with the demands.

Accommodate expansion of Walb Memorial Union

The Walb Memorial Union should serve as the focus for student life on campus outside the classroom, thus becoming a traditional student union. The regional campus places unique demands on this space and must provide a wide variety of accommodations for the student. As the IPFW campus grows, the union must grow to meet these increasing demands. In addition, functions currently housed elsewhere on campus should more appropriately be located in the union building. The bookstore, for instance, is a likely future inhabitant of the union.

Several administrative functions, most notably student services, may also reside in the union building one day. Any academic functions currently housed there will likely move out.

The master plan must provide for an orderly and creative expansion of this facility as it becomes more and more a focal point on campus.

Establish physical linkage to the McKay property

The McKay property is a 150-acre tract of land across the river from campus that has been made available for campus use. The precise nature of the functions that may one day occupy this land is uncertain at this time, but it is likely that a better physical link with campus will one day be necessary.

The master plan should address the potential for such a link whether a bridge is feasible; whether a vehicular link is necessary or if a pedestrian link would be adequate; and how alternatives could be developed if no direct linkage is possible.

Facilitate an alumni presence on campus

As the alumni community grows, interest in and mutual benefit of a close relationship with the campus community also grows. It is unclear at this time just how this may impact the master plan, but space will undoubtedly be needed in the future for alumni organization offices on campus. It is conceivable that the alumni community could someday wish to develop their own facilities and, in turn, make them available for university/community interaction functions.

Take advantage of the relationship with the river

As stated earlier, the location of the campus adjacent to the St. Joseph River is considered a major advantage by most people associated with the campus. The master plan should address the desire to improve this relationship and take full advantage of the presence of the river, especially the inlet.

Other issues

Several other items have been identified as possible needs for campus in the future. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

Additional commons spaces, both interior and exterior

  • A conference center
  • Child care facilities
  • Space to accommodate Joint-venture projects with the community
  • An art gallery
  • An environmental studies center
  • Additional research space
  • Space for noncredit instruction

The Process

It is essential that all the right people be included in the process of updating the master plan. This, of course, is primarily the responsibility of the campus administration. However, the planners must be aware of a few attitudinal parameters that have been identified as important for anyone approaching this design task.

Create a sense of community

All administration, staff, faculty, and especially the students must feel a sense of ownership in the campus. The physical environment must convey a clear feeling of purpose and belonging. Creating community is especially difficult on a regional campus where a large number of students commute part time and find it difficult to spend non-class hours on campus.

While a part-time student is not on campus as much as a full-time student, experience has shown that two half-time students are certainly on campus and placing more demands on the campus facilities than one full-time student. For this reason, care must be exercised in the use of the enrollment statistics that are provided. In many cases, the head-count figures provide a better indication of the demand on facilities than do FTE figures.

Demonstrate futuristic thinking

For this plan to be well received and accepted, it must clearly demonstrate that the planning process included broad-based long range thinking. Many variables exist in the design parameters for the campus of the future. As difficult as it may be to anticipate these, their presence must be accounted for in the planning process.

Accommodating these variables may mean maximum flexibility in the plan. It may mean maximum allowance for emerging technology. Communications, of course, will I I undoubtedly be a driving need in the years ahead.

The campus personnel are committed to this thought process and intend to offer as much direction as possible. It is left for the planners to provide the flexibility that will allow the campus, as it actually grows, to accommodate the broadest range of possibilities.

Protect natural features

Not only is the riverfront considered a very positive feature of the campus, the general character of the wooded areas adjacent to the river are also considered worthy of preserving and putting to use. In particular, the character of the McKay property is viewed by many as a feature that should not be destroyed.

It may be possible to incorporate this desire with the need to provide more informal recreational opportunities. The Rivergreenway, for instance, is a project of the city/county. The Rivergreenway is projected to pass through campus along the east bank of the river. The position taken by the campus in cooperating with and contributing to this effort could have significant impact on the success of the project and our efforts in taking maximum advantage of the river without jeopardizing a natural environment.

Another geological feature of some interest on campus is a natural sand dune in the north lawn area. Incorporation of this feature into the campus plan in a manner to preserve and take advantage of it would be a positive accomplishment.


In initiating a Master Plan Update study, certain tasks surface as items that must be addressed in the design phase. Clear recommendations should be provided in response to these needs.

Redistribution of the campus population

The growth of academic facilities on campus has not succeeded in moving the population center very far to the north. As a result, the halls of Kettler still house more students than the union building. Locations of future buildings, increase of functions within the union building, distribution of parking, and several other factors could affect this phenomenon.

Architectural design review

While the primary purpose of a master plan is to help direct the orderly growth of the campus. it is important to comment on the quality of design thus far. A somewhat limited palette of materials and detailing methods has developed over the past quarter century which contributes to the continuity of the campus aesthetic. If this direction does not, however, provide the best option for the future, that should be identified at this time rather than be allowed to perpetuate to the detriment of the campus and its community. In this consideration, architecture should be considered to include building design and detailing, material selection and use, building size, height and proportions, building sitting and spacing, development of the spaces between buildings, selection of plant materials and methods of use, site amenities such as lighting standards, benches, etc., and other factors that contribute to the general architectural and landscape character of campus.

Grouping disciplines

To date, buildings have been located on campus relative to the functions they would house. This approach was based on the assumption that each discipline would benefit from being located near other similar disciplines. As a result, the campus has developed in somewhat of a loose quadrant configuration. The sciences are currently growing within the southwest quadrant and the engineering and technology divisions have been concentrated to the southeast. Student activities (the union building and the athletic facilities) currently form the northeast quadrant, and the arts are beginning to make a presence to the northwest. The library and humanities disciplines seem to be appropriately centralized.

This approach, however, is not universally followed. The planning process should include some research and discussion of universities that have taken alternative approaches and the relative success that has resulted.

Development of the River Inlet

While it is important that the river frontage be sensitively developed, the inlet that extends the river into the center of campus offers particular opportunities to create a focal element. The plan should address this potential and the appropriateness of using the relationships between the waterway, the main pedestrian circulation spine, and the commons between the union building and the library to develop such a focal point.

Develop a stronger focal point at the campus core

In conjunction with the desire to improve the impact of the river inlet and to take advantage of the proximity of this element to the union building and the library (both logical hubs of campus identity), the opportunity exists to create a strong focal point at this critical juncture. The plan should provide some suggestions toward the actual design of such a focal point.

Develop a pedestrian expectation

Shopping malls across the country have successfully encouraged their patrons to leave the automobile behind in one location and commute on foot from place to place within the mall. Without the benefit of enclosure, this is more difficult to achieve on a campus. Central to this goal is the establishment of an on street campus identity that occurs somewhere between the parked car and the patron's destination. Establishing this identity is a primary goal of this planning process.

Upgrade the infrastructure

The planning process should include a review of the utilities supplies and distribution systems for capacity and condition. Growth projections will necessarily include an analysis of these systems and projections of what will be necessary to accommodate the volume of development and anticipated within the time frame of the plan.

Responding to expectations

As indicated above, these questions and issues should be addressed within the context of another 25 years of growth. The planners should facilitate a brief series of data collection/feedback meetings to learn first-hand the visions of the current campus users. Follow-up meetings may be conducted to gauge the response to individual suggestions, gain additional direction, and gather more information.