Partnering with the City of Richmond

August 30, 2018

The 1968 Wayne Commission report, which recommended the formation of Virginia Commonwealth University by merging the Richmond Professional Institute and the Medical College of Virginia, noted that “the urban environment offers the university great resources” but also stated that the “urban university has an obligation to participate in the solution of urban problems.” This partnership between the university, the City and its citizens takes many forms but includes an open line of communication when it comes to the physical planning of both the university and the City.

VCU is 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 many meetings since October that have been held with our external stakeholders, the City and university have met regularly to update one another on our respective master plans, discuss engagement strategies, and get feedback on concepts. The relationship between VCU and the City of Richmond is an important part of the ONE VCU Master Plan, which is why VCU works closely with City officials to make decisions about buildings, streetscapes, transportation and other projects that support the mission of the university.

With input from the City and other stakeholders, VCU has prepared a draft of the ONE VCU Master Plan to share during public engagement sessions this September. Coincidentally, the City is also in the early stages of its own master plan, Richmond 300, to better understand how Richmond is growing and determine a vision for the future. The City is hosting a series of open houses in September to collect input on their master plan.

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Together, VCU and City officials have shared insights from stakeholders, considered partnership opportunities to improve mobility and safety, and continue to look for how to leverage projects. VCU Vice President for Administration Meredith Weiss and VCU Urban and Regional Studies and Planning Program Chair Damian Pitt both serve on the City’s Richmond 300 Advisory Council, while City of Richmond Director of Planning and Development Review Mark Olinger serves on the VCU Architectural Review Committee and was invited to participate in the ONE VCU Master Plan design phase focus group.

Since City of Richmond planners have been involved in the ONE VCU Master Plan from the beginning, university planners have been able to identify City projects that impact the university. For instance, a City project to install a roundabout on Idlewood Avenue slows down traffic entering the Oregon Hill neighborhood, but also changes how vehicles access VCU’s campus. City and university planners are also considering how best to connect dedicated bike lanes within and outside of campus to improve safety and mobility.

VCU recently provided City planners with a review of the ONE VCU design phase, which outlined the considerations and feedback that frame the ONE VCU Draft Master Plan. Planners highlighted several large university projects, namely the recent GRTC partnership which addresses mobility and safety, and talked at length about how to get more community involvement for both master plans.

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