Below is a list of frequently asked questions, organized by topic, and their answers. If you can’t find the question that’s on your mind, please submit your question through our contact form.
1. What is a master plan and why do we need it?
The ONE VCU Master Plan is an evidence-based vision that guides the physical framework necessary to support VCU's strategic priorities, which are defined through the university's strategic plan, Quest 2025: Together We Transform, and the VCU Health System strategic plan, Vision by Design. The master plan then takes those visions and recommends what physical facilities we need to bring that vision to fruition.
The goal of a planning effort is to develop a comprehensive and flexible plan that addresses the needs of the university and health system. It is a roadmap, or a guide, to be responsive to VCU’s developing needs and resources. A master plan is not fixed in stone and is subject to change and revision, especially in urban environments.
2. Why did you undertake a new master plan?
VCU is growing and our strategic priorities are changing as a result of the new strategic plans. In the past, master plans have built on each other, for example the 2013 master plan was an update of the 2004 plan. But this one was different. The transformational nature of the strategic plan drove the need for a fresh look at the master plan to reflect the university's and academic medical center's emerging priorities.
In addition, there has been a resurgence of the City of Richmond. We needed a master plan that works with the growth of the city and acknowledges the role that VCU plays in creating this new energy in Richmond.
3. Who developed the master plan?
VCU committed to providing an open, thoughtful, transparent and inclusive master planning process that was designed to engage students, faculty, staff and our neighbors in the City of Richmond. The final ONE VCU Master Plan is the product of 176 interviews, presentations and public meetings designed to solicit feedback and ideas from the VCU community, neighbors and stakeholders.
During the planning process, a governance structure made up of several internal committees guided the development of the plan. This included executive sponsorship, leadership representation from all university and health system operational areas, and student, faculty and staff representation. Ultimately the master plan was adopted by the VCU Board of Visitors. Learn more about master plan governance.
The planning team was led by Ayers Saint Gross, an internationally recognized architectural, planning, and design firm. The team also included a number of consultants, some local to Richmond, that focused on campus heritage, landscape architecture - open space and streetscape, civil engineering, cost estimating, and financial feasibility.
4. How will the master plan be used?
The master plan is a coordinated roadmap for VCU that sets forth recommendations of projects that align with our strategic priorities. As a state institution, most of the funding for new buildings and renovations has traditionally been appropriated by the Commonwealth of Virginia. The plan prioritizes these projects and informs the capital budget requests that we submit to the state every odd-numbered year. Learn more about VCU's Six-Year Capital Plan.
5. Why the name ONE VCU?
ONE VCU reflects the commitment to a common vision and alignment of values and goals that transcend our parts to enhance our community's well-being and advance the VCU enterprise as a nationally preeminent urban public research university and academic health center.
ONE VCU is a vision for a collaborative roadmap for the university and Health System. It will transform the physical campus in a way that makes it more accessible, welcoming, and uniquely VCU in character and quality. It will also transform the indoor and outdoor environment in a way that promotes innovation and excellence, showcasing areas of national prominence, patient care, and community engagement.
6. Will all of the projects identified be constructed?
The master plan identifies projects and infrastructure improvements and provides guidance on funding options. The university will evaluate the plan regularly and seek funding for its highest priorities in coming years. It is likely that not all projects identified in the master plan will be constructed as the plan evolves over time alongside our strategic initiatives.
7. Are all of the Facilities Management projects that VCU is working on listed in the master plan?
The master plan identifies the physical framework (new buildings and major renovations of existing buildings) necessary to support VCU’s strategic priorities. We also continuously work on smaller-scale renovation, construction and maintenance projects to ensure that our facilities meet the needs of our students, staff and faculty. For more information, contact VCU Facilities Management.
1. Who contributed to the master planning process?
We heard from over 1,500 individuals in person, including faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni, and the Richmond community! The university committed to providing an open, thoughtful, transparent and inclusive master planning process designed to engage the VCU community and our external stakeholders. In addition to the in-person meetings, we had more than 19,000 unique visitors to the master plan website during the planning process, and we fielded comments and suggestions through the website and social media.
2. How were local neighborhood associations included in this process?
We worked closely with our Neighborhood Outreach partners in the VCU Office of Community Engagement. The Office of Community Engagement holds a standing meeting twice a year with the neighborhood association’s liaisons. We began these conversations prior to the launch of the master planning process and continued them throughout.
In addition, we met with individual civic associations, were interviewed for neighborhood association newsletters, and distributed information directly to the city council members for the neighborhoods they represent. When we have master plan updates, we directly notify neighborhood association presidents and liaisons via a mailing list and push information to them through the Office of Community Engagement.
3. How does VCU plan to continue to engage neighborhoods?
VCU greatly values and respects all its neighbors. Both the planning process and the master plan itself focus VCU’s physical development and redevelopment on our two core campuses. We are committed to continuing to engage, collaborate and communicate with our neighbors proactively, early and often on decisions that may impact them. This will continue through open meetings, neighborhood association visits, and our VCU-Neighborhood Forum. To that end, there are currently no plans to expand into area neighborhoods. Although not a focus of the ONE VCU Master Plan, should an opportunity present itself, either to partner with a neighborhood on a project or invest in a project within a neighborhood, VCU will consistently work alongside neighborhood associations to engage neighbors, consider their concerns, and arrive at decisions that benefit our entire community. A focus of the ONE VCU Master Plan is to protect, if not improve, the integrity of our space and neighboring properties. It is in the best interest of both VCU and our surrounding neighborhoods to ensure we respect Richmond’s historic character by working together on building heights, facades, and landscaping, especially for properties on the core campus periphery. VCU will always work with our neighbors on these issues.
1. How did VCU coordinate their master planning effort with the City of Richmond?
The City of Richmond currently has a master plan in development, Richmond 300. Prior to the launch of either of these master plan processes, VCU began conversations with the Department of Planning and Development Review. We regularly briefed one another and provided input and feedback, meeting approximately bi-monthly.
In an effort to ensure cross-communication, Vice President for Administration Meredith Weiss serves on the Richmond 300 Advisory Council and University Planner Jeff Eastman serves on the Richmond 300 Land Use Working Group. The City's Director of Planning and Development Review served on a ONE VCU focus group and continues to serve on the VCU Architectural Review Committee.
2. How did VCU and VCU Health System ensure alignment with other existing plans and studies?
The master plan identifies a shared, evidence-based vision for development to guide physical campus investments. In addition to the stakeholder input received during the master planning process, there are many recent (and underway) studies and plans that influence the ONE VCU Master Plan. One of the goals of the master planning effort is to ensure alignment and coordination with other existing plans including athletics, business services, deferred maintenance, health system, housing, landscape, local community, parking and transportation, real estate, space, sustainability, and wayfinding.