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Abstract: Site Development

Definition and Introduction

The campus atmosphere as a whole is a function of  both buildings and connecting spaces. Continuity, unity, and coherence of spatial relations are the ultimate aim in developing the campus landscape. Site development plans bring the master plan to life and address the needs for physical improvements to the existing campus landscape. Site development addresses physical elements (e.g., drainage, roads, signage, lighting, plants). Site development and considerations often are integrated into a larger infrastructure plan.

Site Development Project Considerations Whether a site plan is developed as part of a larger architectural plan or independently, project managers need a set of guidelines for defining and executing those plans.

Project Objectives and Programmatic Requirements

A request for proposal for site development design services outlines project objectives and programmatic requirements and spells out environmental, functional, and aesthetic requirements. A realistic budget can be established based on those requirements. Environmental requirements stem from a broad need to address sustainability, but specific project goals  to protect and preserve existing natural  systems  need  to be codified. Functional requirements include four requirements areas. (1) Site  access  requirements address the need to integrate and regulate access and parking for vehicular traffic (e.g., emergency, cars, maintenance, transit, bicycles) on a pedestrian-friendly campus. (2) Maintenance access requirements address the need for access to facilities and future utility installations. (3) Furnishing requirements  note  design and maintenance guidelines (e.g., lighting, phones, signage, plants, irrigation). (4) Functional requirements clarify project purpose (e.g., fostering social interaction on campus or improving security).  Aesthetic requirements address the human experience of the finished landscape and the campus at large.

Predesign Project Cost Budget

A predesign project budget is developed independent of the building project.  Because site development projects are always site specific and thus uncertain, a 25 percent contingency on hard costs is recommended.

Project Relationship to Existing Plans and Campus History

It is important to recognize and define how the proposed site development integrates with the campus master plan (e.g., especially land use, infrastructure, open space, natural systems). Further considerations include climate or disaster planning and adherence to development characteristics that historically have defined the institution.

Survey and Data Requirements

An accurate topographic survey of the project area normally is performed (e.g., on boundaries, easements, utilities, topography, elevation, vegetation, existing structures).  On projects with wetlands and waterways  or those with archaeological site restrictions,  special data are needed. A review of applicable zoning code or local, state, or federal permit regulations can identify further data that must be assessed.

Review of Physical Factors That May Influence Site Development

A site development project is actually a site modification project; the site development design process requires a thorough understanding of site geographic, geologic, hydrologic, solar, and climate conditions.

Geotechnical and Soil Conditions. Soil and bedrock conditions influence the overall site development plan. Groundwater resources, soil and bedrock stability, and topsoil health must be accurately assessed during developmental planning stages to provide a stable and fertile ground for landscaping and building infrastructure projects.

Hydrology. Evaluation of existing patterns of surface drainage and groundwater is a key first step in evaluating drainage and water capture alternatives.

Climate. Assessing the impact of the microclimate of the site calls for evaluation of typical and extreme temperature, rainfall, wind, and shade statistics.

Topography. The elevation characteristics of the site guide many of the decisions related to site usage and site design. Higher ground is valued, and slope at various locations defines use suitability.

Plant Communities and Vegetation. Plants define and enhance the visual space of the campus (e.g., color, texture, line, form). They convey a number of environmental solutions related to soil erosion, microclimate, wind, and habitat biodiversity. Plants require regular and ongoing maintenance, which must be outlined in the site development plan.

Visual Spatial Environment. The spatial view of the buildings, views, and natural landscape exert a major influence on site planning decisions. The best design plan seeks to incorporate many existing visual spatial elements into the overall site development plan.

Built Environment. The existing campus infrastructure (e.g., roads, parking, buildings, walkways, utilities) must be detailed and evaluated. Proposed new site development must address integration of desired project results into the current framework. Design, form, and function are all considerations.

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