Lake Land College, Mattoon, Illinois05-25-23 | News

Lake Land College, Mattoon, Illinois

Submission by Planning Design Studio
by Staff

Lake Land College, a public community college in rural central Illinois, recognized a need to modernize a tired and overgrown landscape on their campus. They initially had identified two priority projects; (1) to enhance their main entrance to bring the college's identity to the campus perimeter and (2) to breathe new life into two neglected sunken plazas in the college's central quads. They hired Planning Design Studio (PDS) to come up with concept plans to address these issues. However, during initial consultations with college leaders PDS saw the potential to expand the college's vision from a purely landscape design project to an integrated framework plan that brought together a multitude of other pressing issues on campus. College leaders enthusiastically embraced this holistic approach for their campus.

Planning Design Studio began the process by leading collaborative input sessions with master gardeners, facility managers, college executives, student services liaisons, horticulture and environmental science professors, and marketing leaders. From these sessions the project team began to conceptualize and later refine a set of initiatives to guide them through the process of framework building, such as:

1. A need to alleviate nutrient loading from adjacent agricultural areas into the two campus lakes - to improve habitat for aquatic life, beautify the college's namesake, and better connect the community to this critical natural amenity.
2. Inspire the college community to connect to an outdoor environment that reinforces teaching, research, learning, and outreach.

3. Support the college's initiative to be a national leader in sustainability by reducing energy consumption through geothermal, solar, and wind energy installations.
4. Provide a campus setting that encourages physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being.
5. Establish an open space design framework to guide future development on campus.
6. Strengthen the college's association to its surrounding diverse community.
7. Focus on reinforcing the college's core values of caring, communication, teamship, innovation, and excellence.

With these initiatives in mind, PDS then analyzed the impacts of vehicular and pedestrian circulation, designed a variety of open space, shifted parking and roadway patterns to improve wayfinding and congestion, planned for a restoration of native habitats, preserved a historic cemetery, enhanced community amenities, and connected the landscape design to educational priorities.

Through this campus framework plan, Lake Land College is now poised to deliver a diversity of spaces and experiences that will benefit their student body, their faculty and staff, and the surrounding rural community. Their campus will be a showcase for smart green energy solutions, native environments and critical habitat, natural aquatic resources, agriculture management, experiential learning, historic preservation, and the promotion of good health through outdoor recreation. For students and staff, the framework plan sets forth a campus as a living laboratory to support educational objectives and academic research. Additionally, the variety of social spaces support the educational development needs of a diverse student body.

The upcoming School & Campus Design Issue of Landscape Architect and Specifier News saw many firms submit their projects for feature consideration. This project was not chosen for a Feature in the issue, but we at thought the project deserved to be showcased online . . .

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