John Desch has an idea of what CSU will look like in six
However, Desch, who does campus planning for Facilities
Management, said he knows the idea will change and develop so much
from its current abstract state to its actual implementation that
it may become a different picture entirely.
Surrounded by stacks of paper and foam-board maps of campus,
Desch said his department is working on the master plan that is
updated every six years.
“The master plan is our vision for how the campus should grow,”
When a campus undergoes change, planners consider factors beyond
aesthetics and student-campus relationships. The plan takes into
account the university’s mission, history and physical location,
Desch said. The list of considerations also includes aspects like
academics, technology, sustainability and maintenance.
Desch pulled out a white three-ring binder and thumbed through
the plan’s lengthy table of contents. The multiple colored markings
and plethora of sticky notes revealed a work in progress.
“We try to solicit as much comment and recommendation as we
can,” Desch said. “We go to all kinds of community groups as well
as county offices, different colleges, student organizations, etc.
Our purpose is to reach out as broadly as we can to show the city
what we’re planning.”
A Physical Development Committee made up of representatives from
each college meets monthly to discuss planning issues.
Desch said there is debate about the value of aesthetics versus
functionality and cost.
“Some people want the most building for the least money and
don’t care what it looks like,” he said.
CSU’s original campus included only the buildings around the
Oval. According to Desch, many nondescript buildings were added
during the 1960s and 1970s to accommodate rapid growth.
“I think now we’re realizing the mistakes we made,” he said.
“The ‘aesthetics’ side is getting stronger consideration.”
He added that the university has always tried to maintain open
space and keep vehicles out of the center of campus.
Desch said the possibility of parking garages has been
mentioned, but they are much more expensive than surface lots. It’s
another issue of cost versus appearance, he said.
The Physical Development Plan runs the gamut of approvals and
revisions from state agencies the Colorado Commission on Higher
Education ultimately approves it.
Detailed descriptions of the planning process are available on
the Facilities Management Web site,