A Vision For Bucknell

From the first campus master plan in 1932, The Larson Plan, to A Vision for Bucknell in 2008, Bucknell University has exemplified its commitment to the value of physical space in support of its educational mission. Strategic physical planning over the past decade has resulted in a campus that mirrors the University’s standing as one of the premier undergraduate institutions in the country. The facilities and green spaces on campus, along with the surrounding natural environment, have become a defining trait of the University and offer competitive advantages. Enhancing these advantages is one of the many objectives described in the 2008 master plan, A Vision for Bucknell. The University, in collaboration with Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott, developed this plan to support the five pillars from the 2006 Plan for Bucknell, the extant strategic plan for the University:

  • Strengthen the academic core
  • Deepen the residential learning experience
  • Enhance diversity
  • Strengthen connections with the world
  • Secure the University’s financial future

Bucknell has implemented several significant capital projects since the formulation and adoption of the 2008 master plan. These include projects that directly support academic, social, residential and athletics programs on campus. Four of these projects epitomize the University’s commitment to strengthening the vitality of downtown Lewisburg.

Although there have been many valuable accomplishments made since 2008, there are still considerable needs that remain. In some cases, the justification and description of outstanding needs are well developed. Others still require further articulation, evaluation and quantification. Decisions that the University should make as it moves forward include: identifying and clarifying potential needs, prioritizing these needs, and finding the sustainable funding for future campus master planning projects (both construction and Operations & Maintenance).

Interim Status Report

Bucknell retained Brailsford & Dunlavey, Inc. (B&D) in May 2016 to prepare an evaluation of projects completed since 2008, identify material changes to the environment since 2008 and summarize anticipated unmet needs that the University should consider for implementation over the next 20 years. This interim planning process has resulted in this briefing document which will serve to inform the next iteration of campus master planning for Bucknell.

The contents of this briefing document are founded on B&D’s review of information and data provided by the University, facility tours, interviews with senior leadership as well as the mayor and borough manager of Lewisburg and, in the case of traffic and parking analyses, the compilation of preliminary data prepared by sub-consultant Nelson\Nygaard Associates.


The University has made appreciable strides toward achieving the goals and objectives defined in the 2008 master plan. In the span of eight years, Bucknell invested $176 million into campus facilities and infrastructure. As a result, the University has successfully advanced its overarching mission of enhancing the undergraduate student experience. Bucknell has added 329,000 square feet on campus and in downtown Lewisburg, and it has renovated or remodeled 378,000 square feet of existing facilities. Specific space additions include: 65 faculty offices, an enhanced community center and hearth space and 448 new beds (including affinity houses). A summary of completed projects is provided in the Executive Summary, and described in further detail in the Accomplishments section of the interim status report..

In addition to the capital projects, the University has also completed numerous planning studies in order to further define certain project requirements and budgets. Other studies may inform future decision making with regard to policy and the next iteration of the University’s planning efforts. A list of these efforts and a summary of the findings/results is provided in the Accomplishments section of the interim status report.

Material Changes to the Environment

Along with the physical transformations on campus, there have also been several material changes to the environment. Some changes were anticipated by the 2008 Master Plan, while others were not. These unpredicted changes have impacted the implementation of the Master Plan, both positively and negatively.

Planning Framework

The University has developed a planning framework for future capital investments that preserve the key principles described in The Plan for Bucknell, while also allowing for material changes to the environment since 2008. The framework comprises categories of capital investment and guides the prioritization of future projects.

  1. Strategic — Achieves goals and objectives identified in the master plan and/or furthers the vision of the University
  2. Campus Enhancements — Aligns with the master plan and/or the vision of the University, but only pursued when the preponderance of financial support is provided through fundraising
  3. Infrastructure — Addresses a critical need, but not directly articulated the Master Plan and/or the vision of the University; infrastructure projects may derive from either Strategic or Enhancement projects (e.g., new water or power lines)

Several outstanding projects have been identified, both new construction and renovation/building upgrades, that were either described by the master plan, altered since 2008 or conceptualized since 2008. The planning framework was applied to these outstanding needs, and is summarized in the Executive Summary of the interim status report. More detailed descriptions of these projects are provided in the Planning Framework section of the document.

Campus Master Plan Update

The material included in this briefing document supports the need to refine the plan, realigning the original planning strategies with the current and future needs of the University. The campus master plan update process will include: evaluation and prioritization of the balance of recommendations from the 2008 plan, further definition of implementable projects and land use strategies, formulation of appropriate financing structures and a plan for implementation. The next iteration of the campus master plan will guide the development of the campus for the next 20 years, while preserving the key goals stated in The Plan for Bucknell, the key principles outlined in the 2008 campus master plan, and the existing campus standards and guidelines relative to physical planning.

B&D has identified a series of preliminary findings based on the information gathered during this interim planning process, that will inform the development of the campus master plan update. These findings are summarized below, and described in further detail in the Campus Master Plan Update section of this document:

  • Land Use — The campus has few remaining vacant, usable and/or easily developable parcels of land. Remaining land resources will be further assessed as part of the campus master plan update process to determine feasibility of future development and to identify the highest and best use as it relates to the campus fabric.
  • Planning Agenda — The following four themes have emerged as driving forces for the next iteration of the master plan:
    1. New academic buildings
    2. Campus housing needs*
    3. Reconfigured and/or additional student life spaces
    4. Parking and traffic*
  • Planning Considerations — The original nine districts will require varying levels of revisions based on the planning concepts’ consistency with the current strategic goals and objectives of the University (see Figure 1.1).
  • Implementation Considerations — The next iteration of the master plan should incorporate the Planning Framework structure to provide more clarity in terms of prioritization and sequencing of capital projects.

Several aspects of the 2008 master plan will be carried forward to the next phase of the planning process. In addition, the existing campus standards and guidelines relative to physical planning will serve as assumptions for the update. Planning studies and initiatives conducted prior to or after the adoption of the plan will be incorporated into this phase of the planning process as well. All relevant pre-existing materials will be reconciled throughout the course of the update, resulting in a comprehensive plan that leverages over 10 years of campus planning efforts.