Karina Barriga Albring
News Editor

Just like the New England region, Appian Way at Keene State College shows  off  the colors of the  four seasons-piles of white fluffy snow border the pedestrian road in the winter. Orange, yellow and red leaves take over in the fall. Refreshing wind and newborn flowers cheer up the path when spring comes. Sunshine days and a half-empty road paint the picture in the summer.

No matter the time of year, many KSC students wander around Appian Way perfectly knowing  where the trail leads: Take a left to the library, turn right if hungry, for the gym, go back.
According to Pete Hedlund from Sasaki Associates Inc., planning the design and structure of a college campus allows the buildings and spaces to be functional and fulfill the community’s preferences and necessities.
Currently, Hedlund’s company, an architecture and design firm  from Boston, Mass. is working on a master plan that will guide the college authorities through construction and renovation processes throughout the next ten years.
The college authorities are now encouraging students to become involved in the process of developing an official master plan.
Jay Kahn, KSC interim president, said during the first Student Assembly meeting that students’ involvement and participation in developing the master plan is crucial.
Hedlund said the master plan is an online report that documents the analysis of the state of the campus and ends up with a vision and a set of steps and recommendations.
“It [the master plan] takes a look at the existent campus, evaluates how each area is functioning and looks at possibilities of expansion, improvement and renovation,” Hedlund noted.
Bill Haverly, representative from the University System of New Hampshire (USNH) said, “Planning the campus development is a highly recommended practice that all the state colleges in New Hampshire have to complete every ten years.”
Currently, the master plan is in the evaluation, or data-gathering stage.
According to Karen House, associate vice president for finance at KSC, the architecture and engineering experts hired to develop the plan are “learning as much as they can about the campus, our mission and what we try to do academically and programmatically,” House said.
In order to complete this part of the process, the experts at Sasaki need to see the students’ perspective toward the campus functionality. For this, at the beginning of the semester Sasaki placed a board in the Young Student Center with a map of the campus. The team asked the students to identify  the good and bad spots of the campus.
On Jan. 23, “About a hundred students came to the board and participated in the activity,” Hedlund stated.
Several KSC students identified the Student Center as “the heart of the campus,” marking it with a yellow dot. The Owl Athletic Complex (behind Route 101) was seen by many as a bad spot and was marked with red.
KSC junior Roy Hayford spotted his favorite and least favorite places on campus. Hayford said for him, “The heart of campus is definitely the Appian Way.”  Regarding the bad areas of the campus, he said, “I feel like the athletic field is too far away from campus and it is not advertised very well.”
House explained that this is the type of feedback the experts need to get from students. She said that, additionally, an online, map-oriented survey on the same topic was created in order to allow students to express their opinion towards the campus design.
She explained that the online survey results are supplemented by data provided by many campus departments, including physical plant, scheduling, registrar, institutional research, and human resources.
House said, “These data are essential. Our goal is to ensure that maintaining and developing the campus continues to provide excellent support to Keene State [College’s] mission going forward.”
Information provided by House indicated that the online survey has had 358 responses.
Even though the number might seem low compared to the almost 5,000 students currently enrolled in KSC, the information provided has helped the Master Campus Committee learn about preferences, likes and dislikes about the campus.
House noted there is a master planning committee that meets to discuss all the steps in the process and includes student representatives and community members. “We want this to be a very inclusive process,” she said
Aaron Testa, KSC graphic design junior and member of Student Assembly, is one of the student representatives  on the Master Plan Committee.
Testa said he believes the master plan requires more student input. “The opportunities to become involved in the process are there. It all comes down to improving the spaces for the students, so we need their feedback. That way it will not only be a faculty ad staff decision.”
Testa stated, “Right now we are doing some research in how to incentive students to be part of the process, because it is really important to have their feedback.”
Regarding to following stages in developing the master plan, Pete Hedlund said, “Once the data-gathering phase is completed, our next step is to think about solutions, alternative visions, development.”
Then, the suggestions the experts gather will be presented to the college.
House said, “Once the plan is accepted by the college, we will present it to our board of trustees for approval.”
According to her, when the document is approved, it becomes the official plan that guides the construction as well as renovation projects and quality adjustment in the future.   House stated that the master plan will be completed and approved by the end of June.
Bill Haverly from USNH said, by this time of the year, “UNH [University of New Hampshire] is a little further along than what we are here in Keene. Plymouth is at about the same place Keene is.”
House said, “The ultimate objective of the master plan is to make sure that as we continue to develop the campus in the future, it is very thoughtful, planful, and that we are sequencing the work that we would do in a way that makes sense.”
Finally, she referred to design and architecture achievements the college has reached.
“Recently, the New Hampshire Architects Association had their annual awards dinner and recognized the new TDS [Technology, Design and Safety Center],” House noted.
Things that might be taken for granted have also occurred due to planning.
Turning Appian Way into a pedestrian road rather than a traffic street, for example, was one of the recommendations included in the 1992 Master Plan. Next time walking down Appian Way, students can consider the history of planning at KSC.

To  read more  about the master plan see the Equinox’s editorial on page A4

Karina Barriga Albring can be contacted at kbarriga@keene-equinox.com

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