The morphology of the "well-designed campus": Campus design for a sustainable and livable learning environment

by Hajrasouliha, Amir Hossein, Ph.D., THE UNIVERSITY OF UTAH, 2015, 215 pages; 10000316


This dissertation highlights the impact of campus form on certain university objectives, such as student satisfaction, learning outcomes, safety, and sustainability. I theorized the concept of the “Well-Designed Campus” from the current practice of campus planning and design in the United States of America, and I found significant association between certain dimensions of the “Well-Designed Campus” and the selected university objectives.

By analyzing 50 randomly selected university campus master plans in the United States, the top 10 objectives and 100 recommendations were extracted from the selected master plans. Four big ideas were distilled, based on the top 10 objectives: (1) From a commuter campus to a convenient campus; (2) from an isolated campus to a contextual campus; (3) from a fragmented campus to a cohesive campus; (4) from a brown campus to an ecological campus. In addition, from the top 100 recommendations, seven morphological dimensions of campus form were distilled: (1) land use organization (2) compactness (3) connectivity (4) configuration (5) campus living (6) greenness, and (7) context. Based on these dimensions, the “Well-Designed Campus”—the intersection of the four big ideas—is conceptualized as a mixed, compact, well-connected, well-structured, inhabited, green and urbanized campus.

I used Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) to evaluate the impacts of the “Well-Designed Campus,” by modeling six outcome variables: (1) freshman retention rate as a proxy for overall satisfaction with college life, (2) 6-year graduation rate as a proxy for learning outcome, (3) crime rate as a proxy for safety, (4) STARS as a proxy for sustainability, (5) students’ commuting behavior, and (6) employees’ commuting behavior. The statistical population was universities with high research activities in the United States of America. The hypothesized structural equation models displayed significant association between three campus form dimensions of urbanism (a composite variable from the three morphological dimensions of compactness, connectivity, and context), greenness and campus living with most of the outcome variables considering control variables. Moreover, the “Well-Designed Campus” can provide a theoretical framework for future empirical research on either accepting or rejecting common actions and policies related to campus design.

AdvisersReid Ewing; Nan Ellin
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsArea planning and development; Urban planning
Publication Number10000316

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