Comprehensive Campus Plan Unveiled

The 2023 Comprehensive Campus Plan (CCP) proposes many exciting possibilities for the future of the Georgia Tech campus.
Rendering of Comprehensive Campus Plan-recommended concept for Hemphill Woods Walk. (Rendering is subject to change.)

A North Avenue Welcome Center. Reopening of the Third Street tunnel. A car-free campus core. An on-site water reuse facility. A new thermal energy plant. Additional recreational fields. Two new residence halls. A new performing arts center. Peters Park instead of Peters Parking Deck. These are some of the exciting possibilities proposed in the 2023 Comprehensive Campus Plan (CCP). 

After more than two years of preparation and intensive data collection and analysis, the Planning, Design, and Construction department within Infrastructure and Sustainability has finalized the new campus plan. Steeped in a rich culture of planning and innovation, the CCP is a living document that will guide how campus space will evolve to support the growing needs of the campus community for the next 10 years and beyond. The plan is flexible, adaptable, and considers estimated future institutional needs as well as projected trends in higher education. 

 “Our new Comprehensive Campus Plan outlines a bold future for our campus that supports growth while reaffirming our commitments to students, sustainability, well-being, innovation, and our neighboring communities,” said President Ángel Cabrera. “I’m excited to see the many ways this plan will enhance the Georgia Tech experience and preserve the beauty of our campus.” 

The planning department collaborated with a team of consultants to strategize outreach measures, collect and analyze data, and build the foundation for the CCP. Extensive in-person and virtual outreach efforts targeted students, faculty, staff, and alumni as well as external stakeholders such as neighborhood associations, churches, the Atlanta City Council, and Mayor Andre Dickens. Outreach included campus tours, tabling events, focus groups, surveys, town halls, and neighborhood meetings. A dedicated website tracked the plan’s stages and progress and now houses the final 130-page document, along with an executive summary and a short video. 

In alignment with the Institute’s strategic plan, the following guiding principles were instrumental in the CCP’s development:  

  • Student–First Experience: Enhance the built and urban ecological environment to create a safe, welcoming, enriching, and beautiful campus where every student can thrive. 

  • Transformative Campus: Radiate influence through transformational and innovative academic, research, living, and workplace environments, and adaptive infrastructure strategies that meet evolving campus needs and growth. 

  • Access and Connectivity: Design for an active, well-connected campus that encourages physical movement and discourages car dependency by prioritizing transit, pedestrian, bike, and other modalities to provide universal and equitable access. 

  • Community Well-Being: Promote physical and environmental wellness through intentional design and robust community partnerships to improve and cultivate a safe, healthy, equitable, and adaptable urban fabric. 

  • Stewardship: Foster resiliency and promote stewardship of campus resources through sustainable development and operational strategies in support of Institute sustainability and climate action goals. 

Additionally, other targeted Institute studies and assessments, such as the campus space utilization plan, the campus historic preservation plan, the facility condition report, the landscape master plan, and the campus stormwater master plan, heavily influence the CCP. 

Georgia Tech’s previous campus plan, issued almost 20 years ago, guided $2 billion in capital investment and laid the groundwork for several defining campus improvements, including the John Lewis Student Center, the EcoCommons, and the initial development of Tech Square.  

The newly published CCP addresses current campuswide goals and space need drivers such as: 

  • A 26% projected increase in on-campus students, faculty, and staff. 

  • An additional 2.2 million gross square feet to accommodate growth. 

  • 2,000 new beds for first-year students. 

  • Additional indoor recreation and outdoor recreational and athletic fields. 

  • A car-free campus core. 

  • Increase in the campus tree canopy. 

  • Increase in alternative mobility options. 

With these goals and drivers in mind, the 2023 CCP outlines five big ideas: 

1. Harmonize With and Expand EcoCommons 

The EcoCommons serves as a performance landscape effectively and responsibly managing stormwater while also providing outdoor recreation space. The CCP encourages the EcoCommons remain a key driver in shaping future development on campus.  

2. Densify the Core 

As the most recent portion of the EcoCommons replaced a surface parking lot in the campus core, there are several other lots that should be the primary locations for future redevelopment. Peters Parking Deck could become campus green space ideal for recreational use and stormwater management. Additionally, vertical density should be considered, rather than large building footprints. The CCP recommends Georgia Tech embrace its urban context to explore building heights surpassing five stories within a car-free campus core. 

3. Heal the Ridge 

A topographical ridge exists on the west side of campus following Marietta Street with stormwater runoff flowing north into the center of campus. The CCP recommends capturing stormwater on top of the ridge with a series of active and passive open spaces, fulfilling athletic and recreation needs. The ridge also physically divides the Georgia Tech campus from its neighbors to the west, a historically underserved area. Activating the ridge can stimulate this area for redevelopment. 

4. Connect Science Square, BioSciences, and Tech Square 

Three distinct areas of innovation on campus — Science Square in the south, BioSciences in the north, and Tech Square in the east, share faculty, students, and researchers. The CCP recommends improving the connections through physical infrastructure, such as bridges, and enhanced mobility.  

5. Anchor Southwest Community Edge 

Through thoughtful planned growth, the CCP recommends the development of the campus to the west by healing the ridge and establishing an anchor between campus and the surrounding community. 

Next Steps 

Moving forward, follow-up studies are critical to confirm emerging needs and identify priorities for near- and long-term capital investments. Sector plans, facilities assessments, space utilization studies, and workplace evaluations will inform the future physical changes to campus. Transit and parking feasibility studies will inform campus mobility. Operational evaluations will advise improvements to student housing, dining, and recreation. The Climate Action Plan will assist in the future direction of campus utilities, and additional stormwater research will inform management of the campus landscape. 

To view the CCP, visit the plan’s website.