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This 1904 campus master plan by George Kessler and Co. architects shows the plans for campus from more than a century ago. The document is just one factor being considered in planning for the Getty Grant, which will provide a historical preservation plan for campus.

Grant to help preserve campus beauty

Buildings, landscapes, history all evaluated

By Mike Krings

When someone who has spent any amount of time on Mount Oread is asked what they remember most fondly about their time at KU, it is not uncommon for the first thing they mention to be the campus' physical beauty.

"You don't get that at every university. This connection has helped tie thousands of people to KU," said Jeff Weinberg, assistant to the chancellor.

Thanks to a $130,000 grant from the Getty Foundation, a plan is being formulated to help preserve the memory-making and historical appearance of the campus. A steering committee is working with three noted consulting firms with experts in the fields of historic preservation and master planning to produce a report that will help chronicle the significance of not only KU's buildings, but also the spaces throughout the campus, including the landscape and architectural influences within them. Frank Martin, a cultural historian, Jeffrey L. Bruce and Company and Treanor Architects are the three main consulting groups working with KU.

Jim Long, vice provost for facilities and planning management, said the groups are also working with representatives of the Campus Historical Preservation Board, city government, KU Endowment and area neighborhood associations. As the university campus is a community, state and even national asset, their input on its historical development and significance is being sought.

The report will help guide future development of the campus. By noting the significance of the landscape, both historically and visually, it will provide a reference for decision makers who plan future uses of campus space, including West Campus. It will be used in conjunction with the 1997 Campus Master Plan and the 2002 Campus Landscape Master Plan.

The report will chronicle contributions to campus development throughout various periods of the university's history.

"In the end, it's a cultural interpretation of the campus as a whole, as a cultural resource," said Tom Waechter, assistant director of Design and Construction Management.

The report will document the impacts of campus planning and development over time, including significant master planning efforts in 1904 by George Kessler and 1928 by Hare and Hare, both prominent landscape architectural firms of their eras. Both plans will be considered in the preparation of the new report.

The steering committee and project team are evaluating the campus and providing an inventory of spaces that are historically significant. The final report will be drafted early next year and is scheduled to be finished by June 2007.

Digitial Initiative, a campus organization, is also part of the project, helping to create a digital archive of the materials involved and an electronic version of the final report.

Weinberg said the final report will be a "living, organic" document that can be revisited and updated in the future.

"It's the foundation upon which the university can grow and prosper," he said.

KU is one of 13 universities nationwide to earn such a grant from the Getty Foundation this year. KU Endowment helped secure the grant. The Historic Mount Oread Fund is also helping fund the effort.

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