The University Master Plan offers the university an integrated framework to guide its physical development over a 20-year time frame. Driven by academic planning priorities, the Master Plan provides a set of guidelines for decisions on where to locate the university’s research, teaching, residential and recreational priorities and programs. It also offers a campus-wide frame of reference for the university’s current capital plan and links local and zone plan goals to the broader plan. The plan is continually reviewed to maintain alignment with LAU’s vision.
The Master Plan Technical Committee (MPTC) was formed in August 2007 to develop and engineer the University Master Plan study. In parallel, LAU President Joseph G. Jabbra set up the Master Plan Steering Committee (MPSC) to oversee, guide, and navigate this vital project. The University Master Plan for both Beirut and Byblos campuses was finalized and accomplished three years later, in 2010.
The Master Plan Technical Committee developed a Master Plan that is deeply rooted in the mission, vision, and values of LAU. The plan adopts a multi-nodal approach that advocates the values of democracy, interaction, diversity, and transparency. The Master Plan comprises the following:
- A theoretical study (urban context, stratification, historical path, existing campus, nodes and circulation, belt road, etc.) and Master Plan zoning.
- General Design Guidelines that provide general information on topography, climatic study, landscape guidelines, walkways guidelines, furniture guidelines, vegetation guidelines, lighting guidelines, etc.
- Definition of existing facilities and projections for potential development zones.
- Recommendations and phasing.
The Master Plan addresses the needs of the university, including academic, enrollment management, student and faculty needs, as well as NEASC and Strategic Plan requirements. Extensive research and data collection were conducted and input was solicited from all LAU constituents in order to meet those requirements.
The plan provides a roadmap that includes milestones and phases, indicating the measures required to achieve them. In the face of growing space needs, the development of new academic programs and expanded land potential, LAU determined that it needed a vision and strategy for the best use of the university’s lands, both within and beyond the current academic core. After three years of intense work, a new Master Plan for the Beirut and Byblos campuses was completed and adopted by university’s Board of Trustees.
The University Master Plan offers LAU an integrated framework to guide its physical development over a 10-year time frame. Driven by academic planning priorities, the Master Plan provides a set of guidelines for decisions on where to locate the university’s research, teaching, residential and recreational priorities and programs. It also offers a campus-wide frame of reference for the university’s current capital plan and links local and zone plan goals to the broader plan. The plan is continually reviewed to maintain alignment with LAU’s vision.
Topography is a critical aspect of LAU campuses. For instance, in Byblos, the Upper Campus is around 300m above sea level, with a 95m drop separating it from the Lower Campus. The result is both a physical a psychological separation between the two levels with a 15 percent slope range.
The landscape design is an integral part of any site development and site plan application. The General Vegetation guideline outlines the principles for landscape design.
Structures and Furniture
A standard set of site furnishings for LAU helps create a unified and coherent campus environment and enhances the university’s overall identity. The standards should be selected during the first implementation project. The design of the elements should focus on simple and functional design that recedes into the surrounding landscape.
The set of standard campus furnishings to be used across the university includes: bollards, benches, trash receptacles, signage, handrails, tree grates, fencing, trellises and pergolas, and bicycle racks.
In designing campus structures and furniture, Facilities Management abides by the following principles:
- Using planted trellises to establish a transition between spaces
- Include art in the design of new outdoor spaces whenever possible
- Placing artworks in existing outdoor spaces as they are redesigned or upgraded
- Placing bicycle racks at all campus gateways to support the concept of the campus as a pedestrian environment
When planning seating, Facilities Management focuses on four main elements:
- Ensuring plentiful seating by maximizing opportunities for sitting (walls, steps, planters, pool edges, lawns).
- Judiciously choosing seating locations, by locating seats toward the street, orienting them to a view, new building entrances, next to attractions/amenities, placing them both in the sun and in the shade.
- Providing a variety of seating types (for couples, for groups, for individuals; fixed or moveable; accessible to physically challenged persons).
- Prioritizing comfortable seating. Seats should provide warmth (generally wood is preferable to stone, concrete or metal); they should also be contoured, preferably with a back and armrest.
- Benches should not be “add-on” items to spaces. They should be included in the design of spaces as fixed design features.
The connections between buildings and their surrounding must be designed as interesting, inviting spaces to encourage the kind of pedestrian activity envisioned for LAU Campus.
In order to create a dynamic pedestrian network as well as a coherent urban environment, plazas should be linked to surrounding open spaces, as well as interior spaces such as lobbies. Linkages can be achieved or reinforced using the following devices: walkways, bridges, steps/ramps and planting.
Pedestrian movement is a primary concern of the First Street district and is central to the notion of mixed-use walkways. The safety and comfort of pedestrians is of the greatest importance in the evolution of First Street. Wherever there is a potential conflict between a pedestrian and a vehicle, the right-of-way should be given to the pedestrian. Therefore, places where cars cross the pedestrian zones should be minimized. This may be done by:
- Connecting all units, parking areas, service areas, communal open space, outdoor amenity areas and public sidewalks by clearly defined walkways
- Separating pedestrian circulation from vehicular circulation.
- Providing an accessible and comfortable pedestrian environment.
- Providing views and vistas along walkways.
- Taking advantage of existing mature vegetation in the vicinity of the promenade system to establish character and create shade for the promenade.
- Ensuring that the paving for the promenade system is comprised of concrete unit pavement with granite feature bands.
- Establishing a program by which significant/historic inscriptions are added annually to granite paving bands on the promenades.
- Including a variety of pedestrian spaces within the promenade to promote informal gathering and to add interest, rhythm and sequence along its length.
- Demarcating each entrance to a building or stairway from the promenades with a small plaza defined by distinctive paving.
Walkway widths should be as follows:
- Promenades should be 2 to 7 meters wide.
- Building entry walks and secondary walks linking buildings and areas should be 3 to 5 meters wide.
- Service walks at buildings should be two meters wide.
- Paving should support pedestrian movement and gathering. Areas of pedestrian activity that do not serve either purpose should be reduced or eliminated.
- Improvements to new and existing pedestrian walkways should maintain the existing landscape character through the use of similar and compatible materials and forms.
- Existing stone walls adjacent to existing pedestrian stairways should be maintained. All new walls on the campus should be composed of or clad with stone.
- Newly built and existing uncovered stairways should not be covered. When existing covered stairways are replaced, appropriate roofing materials should be used.
The civic landscape is largely composed of outdoor spaces intended for particular purposes. These spaces should be composed of canopy trees, shrubs and ground cover.
Trees should be used to:
- Create a canopy of shade
- Frame, define and establish focal points for outdoor spaces
Shrubs should be used to:
- Demarcate a transition from one space to another
- Enhance areas close to building foundations
Ground covers should be used to create a soft, attractive ground greenscape.
- Use lawns for gathering places sparingly to reduce water usage.
- Use plants that require low maintenance for areas that border gathering places.
- Use plants as ground cover wherever possible to assist in climate and erosion control.
- Chosen plants should have high landscape value and possess characteristics that add interest to the campus landscape.
- Plants that have several interesting characteristics (e.g., significant flower, foliage, bark, canopy, etc.) are of the highest value.
- Plants should aesthetically complement civic spaces.
- Chosen plants should be drought-tolerant.
- Plants around buildings should be chosen in such a way as to minimize summertime solar gain. Solar gain can raise internal building temperatures significantly, increasing the need for mechanical air conditioning.
- Chosen plants should be of research value.
- To the greatest extent possible, mature trees that exist within new development zones should be carefully relocated/salvaged to suitable locations on campus. Other ways to protect significant existing trees from the adverse effects of construction include installing fencing that extends from the trunk to the drip-line in all directions and/or not allowing construction vehicles, equipment, or materials within the protection area. Consider root and crown pruning to minimize “construction shock”.
- Street trees should be introduced on roads that are within or border the campus to provide shade and pedestrian scale.
- Deciduous trees should be planted in open parking areas to minimize summer solar gain and to “soften” the hard nature of the paved environment.
Good nighttime generalized lighting is important to enhance safety on plazas, particularly if they function as a short cut or as a through route for pedestrians. Appropriately located and designed lighting may also discourage loitering. In autumn and winter, darkness occurs in late afternoon, coinciding with rush hour. As this is generally a time of maximum plaza pedestrian flow, lighting should be on timers to account for seasonal changes. Lighting on LAU’s landscape should enhance both the appearance of the university and the safety and movement of pedestrians and vehicles through the campus. For uniformity of appearance and ease of maintenance, the various light fixture types should be standardized.
General principles guiding campus lighting include:
- Promoting public safety by providing appropriate lighting in public use areas such as pedestrian connections, parking areas, and building entrances.
- Ensuring that on-site lighting design is in scale with the pedestrian environment and blends in with surrounding buildings and site landscaping.
- Standardizing light fixtures throughout LAU’s landscape by selecting a standard for streetscape, parking area, and pedestrian pole-mounted light fixtures; bollard and stairway light fixtures; and feature lighting.
- Designing exterior lighting in a way compatible with the architectural and landscape design of the project.
- Considering an appropriate hierarchy of lighting fixtures/structures and intensity when designing the lighting for the various elements of a project (i.e., building and site entrances, walkways, parking areas, etc.).
- Properly shielding all lighting fixtures to eliminate light and glare from impacting adjacent properties and passing vehicles or pedestrians.
- Encouraging the use of shorter and lower intensity fixtures instead of tall lighting fixtures that illuminate large parking and pedestrian areas.
- Lessening light pollution and highlighting the country’s brilliant night sky by designing light sources to be down-directed, shielded and as low to the ground as possible. The light source should not be visible off-site, either to neighbors or passing motorists.
- Using lighting only in areas where it is needed and providing only the minimal amount of light necessary.
- Using timers and motion detectors to activate light only when needed.
Parking and Driveways
Parking lots should be seen as places of human activity, not just a place to store cars. They should be attractive and inviting. Aside from concerns for traffic safety and efficiency the appearance of parking lots is an important concern.
Projects should be laid out so that parking lots are not the dominant feature of the development when viewed from the campus.
General principles of designing parking and driveways include:
- Providing an adequate number of parking spaces for the campus.
- Promoting public safety by designing driveways that ensure adequate vehicular ingress and egress off of public roads.
- Providing landscape treatment that supports the sight line requirements of the driveways and public roads.
- Reducing visual impact and massing of parking areas by providing a series of small parking areas rather than one massive lot.
- Screening parking from the street and adjacent lands.
- Providing protected pedestrian corridors.
- Providing short walking distances between cars and building entrances.
- Providing shaded areas and windbreaks to improve micro-climate.
- Paving and clearly demarcating driveways and parking areas.
- Delineating all paved and landscaped areas with continuous concrete curbs.
- Delineating designated parking spaces for physically challenged persons with appropriate pavement marking and standard town signage.
- Providing non-deciduous trees judiciously interspersed between parking spaces.
Spacing standards to be followed:
- Standard parking stall size: 16.7 square meters minimum area, 2.7 meters minimum width.
- Parking stall size for physically challenged persons: 21.9 square meters minimum area, 3.65 meters minimum width.
- Minimum parking aisle width: 6 meters.
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