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Maximizing student success

Type
Campus Master Plan
Scale
14 acres
Location
Philadelphia, PA

Founded in 1964, the Community College of Philadelphia is the largest public institution of higher education in Philadelphia and the sixth largest in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Like many community colleges across the country, the College has felt a sense of urgency in recent years in terms of student attraction, retention, and academic success. With the rising costs of higher education, how does a community college recruit students, give them the tools they need to complete their education, and prepare them with the knowledge and workforce skills necessary for the 21st century?

Guided by the College’s Strategic Plan, WRT collaborated with the campus community and leadership to craft a Facilities Master Plan to help address these questions and help the College align with the “Guided Pathways’ initiative to enhance student success. Our goal was to provide a campus development framework to optimize facilities, enhance shared spaces, and align campuses (main and three regional centers) so that the College can better focus on its immediate priorities—increased enrollment and student success—while building for the future.

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aerial view
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The Plan was informed by comprehensive community outreach and engagement, including interviews with students, administration, faculty, and staff. WRT conducted online surveys, hosted open sessions at all campuses, and conducted workshops and design charrettes with department heads and administrators. Feedback from the outreach and engagement sessions helped shape the recommendations of the Plan, which also included an assessment of existing space and infrastructure needs and reviews of all current and previous planning documents.

The Facilities Master Plan offers a phased approach to the reorganization and renovation of the Main Campus and the three regional centers. It accommodates the need to consolidate leased spaces within the Main Campus and suggests programming elements for better utilization of its regional centers. Large, multi-purpose spaces for special events are addressed, as well as the need for decentralized, informal group and study spaces, both indoors and out.

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Newer facilities are recommended at locations that provide active edges and better integration with the City on the main campus. The landscape, open space, and streetscape frameworks recommend daylighting the campus and creating integrated walkways with each renovation and new construction infill project. The Master Plan deals with both the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the existing and future space needs, the redesign of its facilities (while addressing differed maintenance needs), improving the programmatic identity of its facilities, and creating a sense of place for its main campus.

These enhancements will create inviting, connected, and inspirational educational environments that are closely aligned with the overall Strategic Plan and mission of the College.

In an innovative move, the College has initiated public/private development of a site adjacent to the main campus for both market rate and student apartments. WRT created design guidelines and an urban design framework as part of the Plan to help integrate and connect this development with the main campus. WRT also helped the College in the developer selection process. Our Plan also integrates the forthcoming Rail Park, a re-purposed rail line that abuts two blocks of the campus, with existing and proposed College buildings.

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As the largest educational institution in Center City Philadelphia, the College is singularly positioned to be the nexus of community engagement, hosting events, and programs that engage, educate, and inspire. With enhanced facilities, welcoming common spaces, and optimized programming, the College will be empowered to invite the neighborhood in, developing partnerships and collaborations that will realize the shared aspirations of the College and the City of Philadelphia.

WRT’s Facilities Master Plan lays the groundwork for the next chapter in the College’s story—and it is just the start of a long-term partnership with the Community College of Philadelphia.