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1997 Charrette Weekend

Source: Forward from the Report on the Master Planning Weekend, Fall 1997, Brandeis University)

On September 19-21, 1997, a group of alumni architects and planners and members of the current Brandeis community (including faculty, students and administrators) met to consider the current state of the Brandeis campus and its needs for the future.  (See the list of participants.)

Prior to convening, the alumni read a large amount of material provided by the University detailing academic, economic and campus renewal efforts from the past ten years. During an intensive three days, the workshop heard about past and current conditions and needs. This began with a campus architectural history by Gerald Bernstein, Professor of Fine Arts. That led to presentations on academic life, student life, and the physical plant by Irving Epstein, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs; Jeff Cohen, Director of Athletics; Rod Crafts, Dean of Students; Rick Sawyer, Associate Dean for Campus Life; Ruth lannazzo, Director of Facilities; Bessie Hahn, Assistant Provost for Libraries; Jack Abecrombie, Assistant Provost for Computing and Technical Services; and Shelley Kaplan, Vice President for Administration. The effect of the campus on Admissions was reviewed by David Gould, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. In the evening Jehuda Reinharz, President, presented his view of the campus.

The workshop broke into four focus groups to study the campus from differing perspectives: Circulation, Open Space, Buildings and Connections to the outside community. These focus groups toured the campus and studied site plans. The groups prepared reports and reconvened to share the challenges and opportunities each had found. To everyone's delight, their findings were almost entirely in agreement, despite the differing viewpoints and the wide variety of participants.

It became clear to all the participants that Brandeis has a wonderful campus that has grown from Abram Sachar's vision of a place that would be as great as the institution it housed. The initial master plan by the great American architect, Eero Saarinen, proposed a rural campus with a central core of academia surrounded by residential villages. With Brandeis's extraordinary growth however, the pastoral open campus is becoming a dense, more urban place. A new vision is needed as a very different Brandeis enters its second fifty years.

This new density offers both difficult challenges and wonderful opportunities. The group worked on those with a fierce enthusiasm to develop the following report. The results reflect a strong consensus from both professionals and community members alike.

One important note--the participants want to emphasize that the workshop results are NOT a Master Plan. That requires far more work and technical detail than could possible be provided by volunteers, or in such a short time. This report is a brief review of issues and opportunities that should be addressed in a Master Plan. It is a look to the future.



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