While you might think of our Maryland Parkway home as one big campus, the new campus master plan envisions it as seven “neighborhoods” designed to welcome and serve different facets of our growing student body.
On Dec. 3, the Board of Regents approved the new Maryland Campus master plan, the first major update to the plan since 2012. A number of key events have emerged since then: UNLV attained R1 status and continues to strive as a top tier research institution, the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine opened, and the university has acquired several strategic properties around the campus.
The plan outlines short-term (3-5 years), mid-term (5-10 years), and long-term (10+ years) goals for campus’ physical improvements and development including buildings, open spaces, signage, pathways, and more.
Here’s a rundown of the master plan highlights.
Neighborhoods with Purpose
The new master plan organizes the campus into welcoming neighborhoods delineated by signage and identifiable landmarks.
“The neighborhoods are designed with the student experience in mind,” said Deborah Bergin, director of planning and facilities partnerships. “The goal is to create areas on campus geared toward students’ individual interests that will ultimately lead to advanced student achievement in research, scholarship, and creative activity.”
By segmenting campus into seven districts, the Master Plan provides a flexible framework for ongoing development decisions, Bergin said. It provides overarching guidelines for organizing physical resources while still allowing for evolving needs and emerging priorities.
This academics-focused zone includes the Lied Library and the future sites of a satellite student union, Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building, and in the long-term an Academic Success Center.
Harmon Avenue will become the main pedestrian walkway into heart of campus. This neighborhood will include an outdoor plaza located between the Barrick Museum and the Lilly Fong Geoscience building that will act as a natural gathering space for students and a venue for outdoor classes and events.
This neighborhood will be focused on students who live on campus, providing them with the feel of home with access to amenities like dining and the Student Wellness and Recreation Center within walking distance. The plan leaves open the possibility of a recreation center expansion as a long-term planning option.
Enhances the entry from Harmon Rd. to promote connecting campus with the surrounding community and announce the presence of the university to the community with a prominent entrance. It also organizes athletics into a cohesive zone including athletic fields and practice facilities creating an “athletics village” for an unparalleled student-athlete experience.
Cottage Grove District
Includes theaters for cultural events, and focuses on student life with new housing developments. This district has already started to see major development to reflect this purpose through the recent construction of The Degree, a 226-unit premier apartment complex for students that opened in 2019. This area will also continue to see exciting new developments for the next two years with the construction of the Advanced Engineering Building (AEB) which started in January.
Celebrates our main campus entry point at Maryland Parkway. This zone includes the new business school, a new fine arts building, and a museum and becomes the primary connector to Maryland Parkway.
Thomas & Mack District
Center of large-scale events both for the university and the Las Vegas community. To support a pedestrian-friendly campus, parking will be pushed to the perimeter of the university grounds. Construction has already started in this neighborhood to expand the Tropicana Garage adding 758 traffic spaces to improve traffic flow and access for faculty and students.
Highlights buildings focused on community partnerships including the Stan Fulton Building, Paradise Elementary School, and UNLV/CSUN Preschool.
Large-Scale Construction Projects
Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV
Construction for this building began in October 2020. The 135,000-square-foot, five-story building is the first permanent and purpose-built building of the UNLV School of Medicine. The building will allow the school to double its current enrollment while providing resources that will ensure a quality student experience. Facilities inside include:
- Clinical skills training labs
- Simulation suites
- Anatomy and physiology labs
- Student support and wellness spaces
- Classrooms, class labs, and study spaces
The project is set to finish in 2022.
Advanced Engineering Building
Construction began in January 2022 on the three-story, 52,000-square-foot building. The site will enable the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering, the fastest-growing college at UNLV, to meet increased demand for enrollment. It will feature state-of-the-art facilities for teaching and research including:
- A makerspace for student innovation and collaboration
- Offices for faculty, researchers, and graduate students
- Research and teaching labs
- A Flexatorium (combination lecture hall/exhibit/meeting area)
The project is set to be finished in 2024.
Fine Arts Building
The new fine arts building, a short- to mid-term project, is planned to house approximately 100,000-square-feet of infrastructure for art, design, art history, and related disciplines at the corner of Maryland Parkway and Harmon Road. It will replace Grant Hall, the oldest campus building still in use, becoming an anchor at the Harmon Road entrance. The structure will provide flexible spaces that lend themselves to teaching, studios, galleries, and exhibition halls and reaffirm the College of Fine Arts as a center for arts and design in Nevada.
Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building
This long-term project is planned to be situated in the university core enhancing the academic-focused facilities in that area. It will house teaching facilities and advanced research facilities including a state-of-the-art data imaging center to support UNLV’s goal of becoming a national leader in data visualizations such as computed tomography (CT or CAT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), fluoroscopy, radiography, and ultrasounds.
Lee Business School
A short-term project for the university, the new building will provide contemporary top-tier facilities for the Lee Business School. It is planned to house student services, an incubator space, cafe/study, a 175-seat lecture auditorium, classrooms for up to 75 students, and conferencing center over approximately 108,000 square feet and four levels. This building will allow the Business school to move from its current location in Frank and Estella Beam Hall, built in 1983, to a new location that will meet the needs of their rapidly expanding programs.
Master Plan Connectors
Even though the master plan dilineats areas according to function and purpose, it also includes strong elements to keep campus connected. The plan reinforces and grows our existing promenades, malls, corridors, and open spaces.
“The enhanced walkways will provide more than a way to get from one building to another,” Bergin said. “They’ll include opportunities for people to pause, learn, and participate in recreational activities.”
Enhanced pathways will also increase safety by providing accessible and clearly defined walkways from one area of campus to another.
Other ways the Master Plan connects campus:
- Adding desert-smart landscaping and site amenities to make better use of outdoor areas
- Installing bike paths and bike lockers
- Connecting the campus to surrounding community transit routes like public transportation and clearly defined rideshare locations.
Signage and Wayfinding
To support the cohesive feel of campus, Planning and Construction has developed new standards for building wayfinding and landmark signs. New signs are currently being installed in parts of campus and down Maryland Parkway to create an identifiable university zone. This includes large university gateway signs at major entrances.
The master plan includes proposed strategies for sustainability through landscape design and an open space framework. It outlines the strategic placement of buildings taking into account the direction they face and other environmental variables to create comfortable and sustainable experiences. As new buildings and structures are added, trees may have to be removed or relocated. When this occurs, the university will plant two trees in their place.
The physical development of the UNLV Maryland Campus, and its connection to the surrounding University District, is crucial to achieving Top Tier initiatives, and also to creating an environment that is inclusive and promotes a sense of well-being for our campus community,
“It all starts with a strategic vision to develop our land assets to support the academic, research, student life, cultural, community engagement, athletics, and other points of focus of our campus community,” ” said David Frommer, associate vice president of planning, construction and real estate. “This campus development is an integral part of how UNLV will continue to advance through the ranks of Top Tier universities.”
Creating a Master Plan
The Master Plan was last significantly updated in 2012 with limited updates in 2015 and 2017.
At the end of 2019, UNLV engaged the international design firm Sasaki, to update the master plan for the Maryland campus to align with the university's Top Tier Initiatives. Since then, Sasaki has worked closely with UNLV’s Planning and Construction team to make sure the plan incorporated input from university stakeholder groups including:
- President’s cabinet
- Student Affairs/ housing
- Clark County partners
- Landscape and Grounds
- Athletic, academic, research, and a variety of other working groups
They used a variety of methods to gain substantive feedback. This included soliciting information through traditional meetings, interactive feedback sessions with students, online surveys, and campus town halls.
For more information, including access to a copy of the newly approved Master Plan, visit the Master Plan website.