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The University's campus was developed under a zoned model throughout the 1980's and most of the 1990's. In 1998 the President and trustees sought to establish a long-term vision for the campus that would embrace the fact that the University is an urban university and would better connect the University to the city. Sasaki Associates was engaged to develop the plan. Following a complex process of evaluation, study, and consultation, Sasaki recommended the District Model that is at the heart of the plan.
The model calls for the University to focus its acquisition and development on a well-defined campus district. In the district model, building scale and design at the edges of campus is sensitive to the surrounding community. In addition, the University is called to develop a more balanced approach to student housing in a way that will bring life to other parts of the campus and place students nearer to Scranton's downtown.
The plan was well-received on campus and off. The University has already made significant progress on early objectives including the construction of Brennan Hall (71,000 sq. ft. home to the Kania School of Management), Mulberry Plaza (four townhouse units nearer to the downtown), Founder's Green (a central campus green) and Madison Square (three townhouse units opposite Mulberry Plaza).
In 2002, the plan received one of five national merit awards from the Society for College and University Planners (SCUP) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). It was noted for its potential to re-invigorate the city's surrounding residential and commercial districts and its merging of the campus with the traditional city street grid.