CMU explains campus changes

Forbes Avenue redesign planned

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By the end of this week, Carnegie Mellon University plans to submit to city council its 10-year master plan that could lead to new academic buildings as well as a redesigned Forbes Avenue with fewer lanes for cars and more space for pedestrians and bicycles.

The plan, which does not have a dollar figure, remains largely the same as the one unveiled in March, but it now is about to begin the months-long process to gain approval from the city. The city's zoning code requires universities to submit a new master plan every 10 years.

Over about a year and a half, the university has conducted some 80 meetings, including sessions with the campus community and neighbors. The final such community meeting, held Monday night on campus, drew 80 to 100 people whose biggest concern appeared to be a proposed change to Forbes Avenue.

"Through the plan, we want to create a university campus that is flexible for future growth while being respectful to the neighboring communities," said Bob Reppe, director of design for campus design and facility development at CMU.

The plan provides a framework for future development although only a proposed nano-energy center is in the works now. The building, in the design stage, is planned for the historic core of campus, between Wean, Hamerschlag and Roberts halls. Mr. Reppe called it "the most real" of more than two dozen proposed projects.

Other sites are identified as prospects for future development.

Two areas are a parking lot accessed from Forbes, known as the Morewood lot, and two sites on either side of Forbes near Craig Street. The Morewood lot, where the school holds its spring carnival, is the potential location for a new Tepper School of Business building as well as other unspecified academic buildings.

The sites on Forbes near Craig are designated for mixed use by CMU and business partners much in the way that CMU, Disney and Apple share space in the Collaborative Innovation Center on Forbes.

The plan also calls for reducing the lanes of vehicular traffic on Forbes to one lane in each direction, making room for bicycle-only lanes in each direction and wider sidewalks and creating what university officials dubbed a "Main Street" of campus.

"The center of campus would be configured much like a traditional town square and serve as an entrance to the university," Mr. Reppe said.

Campus leaders hope the additional bicycle lanes would provide an extra buffer between vehicles and pedestrians on an already crowded street, he said.

Several residents who spoke at Monday's meeting said they were skeptical about removing a lane of traffic in an area known for its rush-hour congestion.

Barbara Tisherman, who has lived on Beeler Street for more than 50 years, worried that emergency vehicles might have difficulty passing through traffic if the street had only one lane in each direction.

Anne Curtis, who has lived on Unger Street since 1978, worried that adding a buffer would ignore the problem of students jaywalking across Forbes.

Once the plan is submitted to city council, it must be reviewed by the civic design advisory panel and the city planning commission. Public hearings would be conducted before the planning commission and council.

Mr. Reppe hopes the plan ultimately will be adopted by the end of March 2012.

Forbes is a state road, so any changes to it also would require state approval.

The plan also calls for additions to the University Center on Forbes for a new fitness and recreation center, a reconfiguration of Skibo Gym for interscholastic and intramural athletics, and an addition to Margaret Morrison Carnegie Hall.

From the framework provided in the last 10-year plan approved in 2002, CMU completed the Collaborative Innovation Center, a green dormitory named Stever House, Posner Center, Doherty Hall renovations, Gates Center for Computer Science, Hillman Center for Future Generation Technologies and rooftop and rain gardens.


Staff writer Liz Navratil contributed to this report. Education writer Eleanor Chute: echute@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1955.


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