Theme 4 Subcommittee Report

Theme 4 – Physical Master Plan

Themes: Strategies/Initiatives

June 11, 2014

Report prepared by: Mary Ann Begley, Wendy Bloom, Eric Hsu, & Franz Lozano

Section I. Theme Group Values, Goals & Aspirations

The principal charge in addressing the Physical Master Plan section of the SF State Strategic Plan was threefold: 1) gather information from a vast array of campus constituents regarding the current physical environment; 2) consider any San Francisco city and/or county initiatives that would likely impact the campus (e.g., 19th Avenue Transit Study); and 3) consider the existing campus master plan and related planning documents in making recommendations for the overall strategic plan.

The physical campus environment strongly influences our experience of SF State as students, faculty, and staff, in both subtle and direct ways. Whether it is the comfort of a classroom, the quality of light in an office, the fine tuning of a research lab, or the power of the landscape, we experience the campus at multiple levels. Leveraging limited resources wisely to get the most from our land use and design decisions and making those decisions purposefully consistent with our already strong planning framework and with a view to the short- and long-term benefits for the campus is essential. Moving forward, the University should consider a project’s ability to do double and triple duty--to simultaneously contribute functionally, fiscally, educationally, sustainably, socially, and aesthetically to the campus. Toward this end, we propose the following initiatives to further our campus mission and core values of social justice, diversity and academic excellence:

  • In future construction and renovation, provide formal and informal spaces that foster collaboration and allow for flexible use.
  • Strategically develop campus land and build new structures to support key academic goals.
  • Develop the campus to better support on-campus residents and encourage more activity on campus.
  • Create a physical campus that nurtures the growth of community.
  • Create an attractive physical campus that welcomes and connects the local community.
  • Build, renovate, and operate the campus to be a national model in sustainability and environmental harmony.
  • Renovate the campus to be a national model in accessibility and universal design.
  • Upgrade campus networks to have first-class wireless access and cyber-security, and strategically move computing services to the cloud.

Section II. Analysis of Current Circumstances


- Location in San Francisco

- Proximity to public transit

- Compact walkable campus

- Park-like landscape

- Solid existing planning framework

campus master plan / climate action plan / transportation demand management plan / utilities master plan / Campus Master Plan EIR / MOU

- Recreation Wellness Center

New center of student activity

Revitalization of western campus gateway site


- Aging facilities/infrastructure that no longer support the academic mission

- Deferred maintenance backlog

- Minimal developable campus land and limited surge space

- Outdated technology in classrooms

- Current debt service on UPS/UPN

- CSU capital funding formula doesn’t support unassigned informal gathering space

- Use of Cox Stadium limited by accessibility and protection of natural turf field for athletics.


- Public private partnerships

- Alternative capital /equipment financing

- Bay Area’s attractiveness for people and businesses

- 19th Avenue Transit Study

Collaboration with local partners and transit agencies

- Holloway Avenue mixed-use development

Potential for more revenue and local services

- Recreation Wellness Center

Recruitment potential

Public perception / campus identity

- Great interest for holding conferences in this area

- Private fundraising and naming opportunities


- Poor prospect for near-term state funding / resources

- No general obligation bonds likely (none since 2006)

- Aging facilities with potential for another Science building disaster

- Potential catastrophic failure of essential infrastructure

- Old, deteriorated facilities deterrent to student and faculty retention / recruitment

Section III. Strategies, Initiatives and Timelines

In future construction and renovation, provide formal and informal spaces that foster collaboration and allow for flexible use.

The current system of allocating space for instruction is based on older models of teaching and scholarship. Classrooms and labs with fixed seating or small individual tables are built to support a lecture model of teaching with immobile students. They do not well support a wide range of active learning techniques, such as small group or pair work, team presentations and gallery walks, teams circulating between stations, and other techniques.

Furthermore, academic research and scholarship is increasingly benefiting from collaboration within and across fields. Even modern businesses are re-formatting their workspaces to encourage more casual and accessible collaboration space, as opposed to rigid and formal meetings.

Therefore, future construction and renovation should emphasize flexible spaces, possibly including classrooms with movable, modular tables and chairs; classrooms with multiple common workspaces such as boards or paper pads; classrooms with local networks that support networked collaboration between computing devices and flexible access to large projectors or screens; faculty/staff offices located near shared informal collaboration rooms; and casual student collaboration space in hallways and corners of buildings.

Some of these ideas can be implemented within existing walls and footprint, such as introducing new furniture to reconfiguring classrooms that have flat floors. Others such as placing potential collaborators near collaboration space, may require larger redesigns.

Short Term


Long Term

Renovate old classrooms and instructional labs to newer more flexible space, with more access to technology, universal design/accessibility

Change budget policies to support flexible spaces (and not only permanently assigned space)

Use JPL Library as model for renovation—reduce building to basic structure and reconfigure interior space and exterior façade and increase capacity by adding floors

Convert office space to encourage more team collaboration

Design STEM lab space with shared collaboration space

Dedicate some percentage of campus space as flexible and centrally scheduled—e.g., shell with movable furniture and equipment—to serve multiple users within single timeframe or successively.

Provide more green space and outdoor seating

Provide informal meeting space and study space in hallways and other student gathering places


Provide private offices to attract faculty to campus on days when they are not teaching


Strategically develop campus land and build new structures to support key academic goals.

Given CSU priorities for and limited availability of state capital funding, SF State has focused on addressing building condition--life safety, code compliance, seismic integrity. There is a parallel need to strategically build facilities to support academic programs and priorities, and also to take advantage of underutilized campus facilities and land.

Due to the University’s aging building stock--the average age of campus buildings is 37 years old--there is competition among several academic buildings for major renovation or replacement. The recently formed Capital Planning Committee has the challenge of ensuring that construction and renovation projects support the growth of academic excellence. Notably, the Science and Creative Arts buildings have serious deficiencies and need to be replaced.

It is an important strength that SF State owns properties adjacent to the core campus. These should not be sold for short-term profit, since they provide crucial flexibility for campus growth as resources and partnerships become available. SF State is also fortunate to have campus facilities and land with potential for short-term use and revenue production, such as the Romberg Tiburon Center and the former Sutro Library building. Strategic decisions need to be made as to how to take advantage of public-private partnerships to make best use of these resources, both in the short and long term.

With limited state capital funding on the horizon, SF State must continue to pursue other sources of funding, such as public-private partnerships and alternative financing, to ensure that we are able to build the kind of facilities that support our academic needs and aspirations.

Short Term


Long Term

Continue Capital Planning Committee prioritizing programmatic needs—i.e., prioritize new buildings, renovations, and use of existing resources by strategy, strengths and program demand, as well as physical condition or short-term benefit

Academic buildings


Lot 25 / former Sutro Library site

Romberg Tiburon Center

Downtown Campus

(e.g. develop support for small conferences? weekend coverage, better campus discount.)


Create visible advising center

Identify and maintain surge space to allow campus construction to proceed, while minimizing disruption


Build new Science building

Repair aging campus infrastructure, focusing on key potential failure points (e.g., electrical substation)


Develop the campus to better support on-campus residents and encourage more activity on campus.

The SF State student body has changed significantly in the last 15 years. For many years, the student population was older; dominated by transfer students, mainly from the six local counties and living off-campus. Times have changed with a shift in demographics and the growth of the core housing area. Now the number of first-time freshmen is comparable to the number of transfer students, and a significant 2,500(???) students live on or close to campus. This resident student population is larger than many small colleges. The campus needs to develop as a comfortable, safe, and vital residential community. There is a need for more local retail, on-campus activities, and ways for students to discover these resources.

[need some precise stats here]

Short Term


Long Term

Support Holloway mixed-use development project

Create an effective campus communication system to disseminate up-to-date information about events, including better signage system

Expand faculty / staff housing, including for-sale housing (condominium) with ground lease

Increase student housing

Work to get a credit union ATM on campus


Provide housing for students in short-term programs

Ensure that new student housing has activities and community spaces for learning and social connecting and comprehensive services to help students avoid an isolated residence hall or apartment experience


Create a physical campus that nurtures the growth of community.

SF State needs to structure the campus to nurture the growth of community. Because many students are local, they will live in their home communities in the six counties; and because many students work part-time or care for family members, they are not spending the majority of their time on campus. In addition, many faculty hired in the last decade are priced out of living in SF and also commute.

Therefore, we need to create gathering places (such as faculty/staff clubs and a student event center) that will draw people together.

We also need to explore expanding the presence of college athletics, a traditional vehicle for promoting group cohesion. There are troubling aspects of college sports culture, so this issue needs to be explored with nuance and many perspectives. Any expansion of athletics will necessitate major construction to overhaul facilities and to maintain and operate them, including the gymnasium / workout / locker area, as well as potential modifications to Cox Stadium, the baseball field, or the basketball courts and seating.

Short Term


Long Term

Assign existing or create new committees to study:

Need for permanent student event center

Tension between bike-friendly and pedestrian-safe campus (??? move)


Build new faculty/staff club

Assign a committee to study strategic possibilities for expanding our sports program, along with implications for the physical campus


Create an attractive physical campus that welcomes and connects the local community.

SF State is unique as the only public four-year institution of higher education within the City and County of San Francisco. Programmatically, SF State is strongly connected to its host city. Physically, however, the main campus is located at the extreme southwest corner of the city and separated from its surrounding neighborhoods by two major north-south thoroughfares, 19th Avenue and Lake Merced Boulevard. While the interior of the campus is beautiful and park-like with academic buildings clustered around the Quad, the architecture and landscape on the campus perimeter do little to announce the presence of a major urban university. Additionally, the high volume of vehicles dominating the roadways make for a difficult and unsafe approach to the campus for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Several projects planned or under design--the Recreation Wellness Center, Holloway Avenue mixed-used development, and the west-side realignment of the Muni M line and station proposed under the 19th Avenue Transit Study--promise to change the public face of the campus. Importantly, they set the stage for continued development that orients the campus outward, engages the community, and connects SF State to the larger city and region.

Short Term


Long Term

Continue to work with 19th Avenue Transit Study to construct attractive, convenient SF State station for Muni light rail / bus/ shuttle and increase pedestrian and bike safety in the corridor

Create a signature campus gateway

Establish conference center and hotel

Continue to invite and expand local community input into planning process

Create a campus icon, like the campanile at UC Berkeley


Establish group to set a strategic vision for RTC and public/private partnerships

Improve signage and wayfinding, including exterior signs that post upcoming events similar to newly added flat screens around campus


Provide ongoing upkeep of existing academic and residential buildings, such as UPN to project a positive image for the university

Remove trailers


Build, renovate, and operate the campus to be a national model in sustainability and environmental harmony.

The design and operation of the campus provide opportunities to clearly demonstrate the University’s commitment to sustainability and to model values and practices that students will carry with them beyond their time at SF State. Employing energy conservation measures in the heating and lighting of campus buildings; providing and promoting sustainable transportation programs that encourage walking, biking, transit, and rideshare; maintaining a water-conserving campus landscape; and implementing green building design as exemplified by LEED certification are some of the ways that SF State can “walk the walk” of sustainability.

SF State’s Climate Action Plan sets ambitious goals for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions: 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. A decrease in commute-related emissions by more than 50 percent since 1990 has already brought the campus’s overall GHG emissions 5 percent below 1990 levels Making the intent of our Climate Action Plan visible is key. Through projects such as the Holloway mixed-use development and 19th Avenue Transit Study, which will expand housing options, reduce traffic, increase pedestrian and bike safety, and build community, SF State can make transit and transit-oriented development a key part of its identity as a sustainable campus integrated into a sustainable city.

(Note: mid- and long-term strategies still in progress. Include reference to CSU sustainability policy.)

Short Term


Long Term

Build to minimum LEED Gold standard for new construction and retrofits

Become an officially recognized “Bicycle Friendly University

Increase onsite generation of clean energy

Increase energy efficiency by concentrating activity within fewer buildings, making use of times when there is low use / occupancy

Create a renewable energy purchasing standard

Adopt the city’s recycling and compost requirements for student housing

Realign transportation budget (shuttle, etc.) to not rely solely on revenue from parking fines and fees

Create sustainability standards for campus vendors


Support student initiative to work with SFMTA and BART to secure universal transit passes for students


Continue to implement water conservation projects


Adopt green procurement policy


Renovate the campus to be a national model in accessibility and universal design.

The recent renovation and expansion of the JPL Library and work to create accessible pathways across campus demonstrate SF State’s ongoing commitment to universal access. Similarly the siting and design of the new Recreation Wellness Center provides equal and gracious access to all members of the campus community, to include a wide range of physical abilities.

As the campus continues to develop, future building and site design will follow the same principles of universal design that welcome all members of the community equally.

Short Term


Long Term

Continue to implement universal design principles

Provide nursing rooms for new mothers


Return audible landmarks for sight impaired


Create family and gender-neutral restrooms


Upgrade campus networks to have first-class wireless access and cyber-security, and strategically move computing services to the cloud.

The campus computer network infrastructure was created during a time when computing resources (servers, computation clusters, data storage) were largely physically housed on campus in fixed places, and connected to a large central network via wired Ethernet.

In the last decade, there has been an explosion in the use of the campus wireless network, both in traffic and diversity of devices. Devices have different usage profiles from the older desktop/laptop population (e.g. iPhones aggressively jump off the network to save power) and the wireless network needs to be upgraded to support them smoothly.

The use of the Internet has also become an important part of class work, in the classroom and outside. There needs to be a coherent campus approach to cyber-security that supports the new multiplicity of computing devices.

Cloud computing is an important new trend. The ubiquity of high speed access to the Internet allows many computing needs to be handled off-campus in the so-called “cloud”. Amazon and other companies rent computing time on their enormous computer farms. This often results in a cheaper total cost of ownership, due to the external companies’ economies of scale of costs for system administration, network, hardware and software. The campus needs to continue moving academic computing to external providers where advantageous.

Short Term


Long Term


Upgrade wireless network for reliability, capacity, flexibility, and smartphone access (including power outlets for charging devices)

Support faculty and program shift from campus data centers to cloud computing


Build in capability for cyber security



Meeting & Event Calendars

University Property Management, October 23, 2013

College of Science and Engineering Deans Council, November 7, 2013

Office of Sustainability, November 13, 2013

Division of Information Technology, November 13, 2013

Physical Planning and Development (includes CPDC and FSE), November 13, 2013

Romberg Tiburon Center, November 14, 2013

Disability Programs and Resources Center, November 14, 2013

Transportation Committee, November 15, 2013

Administration and Finance Cabinet, December 10, 2013

Plus we received comments from the following groups (and individuals) via the website:

SF State College of Extended Learning and International Affairs, 10/15/13

The American Language Institute, 10/15/13

College of Extended Learning and International Affairs’ (CELIA) Leadership, 10/15/13

Academic Resources, Faculty Affairs & Professional Development and the Provost's Office, 10/31/13

Academic Technology Staff Strategic Planning Notes, 10/31/13

Women and Gender Studies Department, 11/13/13

Data Collected (surveys interviews etc.)

Working Documents

Master Plan





Create spaces within and outside of the classroom that support learning and promote community building and collaboration

Create, through new capital projects, renovations, and infrastructure upgrades, a campus that is attractive, welcoming, and open to SF city and county collaborations

Commit to sustainable and universal design standards that will allow SF State to serve as a model campus for these initiatives