Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Master Plan, Framework

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Institution Name: Pacific Lutheran University
Original/Historic Place Name: Master Plan, Framework
Location on Campus:
Date(s) of Construction:
1997original construction; January 25 Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership
Designer: Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership
Type of Place: Campus arrangement
Style: (Glossary)
Significance: education, history, religion
Narrative: see below
References: see below
1997-present (2006)master plan (campus)

Pacific Lutheran University has from its very beginning taken great pride in the natural beauty of the campus, with its park-like setting dominated by towering Douglas firs and with Mount Rainier in the background. The campus is divided into a more formal upper campus and a less formal lower campus regularly used for student activities.

Both the natural areas and the more formal portions of the campus have been tended with great dedication and thoughtfulness by the university groundskeepers. Flowering cherry trees, more than four hundred rhododendrons, dogwood trees, honey locust, birch and gingko trees, and many flowers dominate.

An area of special importance located on lower campus has been preserved as a natural habitat. It has a recycled stream and a low-density western Washington forest, as well as frogs, ducks, and birds. The Weyerhauser Company has provided much of the plant life and a nurse log. This natural area of the campus is a wonderful reminder of the rhythms and processes of nature and is a model for the preservation of diverse life forms in an urban setting.

The Framework Master Plan, completed in September 1996 and accepted by the PLU Board of Regents in October 1996, is a statement of principles, policies, and guidelines that bring the objectives of "PLU 2000: Embracing the 21st Century" to bear upon the physical campus. It establishes a tripartite scheme (Luther, the Zipper, and the Streets) to connect the upper and lower campus through landscaping and traffic planning strategies, and to enhance the surrounding community with sidewalks and trees. The purpose of the master plan is to identify projects, sites, and development concepts that best accomplish the long-term renewal of the campus.


Nordquist, Philip A. Educating for Service: Pacific Lutheran University, 1890-1990. Tacoma, WA: Pacific Lutheran University, 1990.

Schnackenberg, Walter C. The Lamp and the Cross: Sagas of Pacific Lutheran University, from 1890-1965. Tacoma, WA: Pacific Lutheran University, 1965.


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Last update: November 2006