Skip to main content
State of the Art in Planning for College and University Campuses: Site Planning and Beyond
Journal of the American Planning Association (2018)
  • Linda Dalton, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
  • Amir Hajrasouliha
  • William W Riggs
Problem, research strategy, and findings: Colleges and universities have been planning their campuses for centuries, yet scholars have conducted little empirical research regarding the nature of campus planning in the United States. We review recent scholarship on campus planning, discovering that it is dominated by case studies (sometimes in edited collections) and some comparative studies. In this review we organize the literature into 3 geographic scales: the campus per se (or campus park), the campus–­community interface, and the larger campus district. The literature addresses 5 topics: land use, design, sustainability, economic development, and collaboration. Most of the studies focus on research-oriented universities in metropolitan locations. The literature emphasizes how campus master planning can support student learning, how design and building guidelines can make a campus more cohesive, and how campuses are adopting sustainable development and operations. At the campus–­community interface, the research documents how some colleges and universities have expanded beyond their traditional boundaries, invested in local economic development, and worked with their communities to improve transportation and reduce environmental impacts. Studies of campus district planning emphasize community adoption of development regulations and code enforcement procedures to reduce the impact of students living in nearby neighborhoods. The literature stresses the importance of partnerships, collaboration, and enhanced communications between the university and the community.
Takeaway for practice: University planners should continue to focus on site design that reinforces student learning and environmental sustainability and on community interface planning that supports economic development and reduces environmental impacts. City planners should expand campus district planning to address a broad array of issues and opportunities. Both university and city planners should facilitate collaboration between their institutions. Scholars should study a wide range of colleges and universities, including 2-year as well as 4-year institutions and those in nonurban settings.

  • campus planning,
  • master planning,
  • town–gown relations
Publication Date
Spring April 5, 2018
Citation Information
Linda Dalton, Amir Hajrasouliha and William W Riggs. "State of the Art in Planning for College and University Campuses: Site Planning and Beyond" Journal of the American Planning Association Vol. 84 Iss. 2 (2018) p. 145 - 161
Available at: