Frequently Asked Questions


What is a Physical Master Plan Study?

UC Riverside’s Physical Master Plan Study is a tool to guide future decision-making regarding campus development, in support of our Strategic Plan’s academic vision and Long-Range Development Plan.  It defines building development opportunities and the capacity of the campus to accommodate anticipated growth, as well as opportunities to improve and better integrate the surrounding framework of circulation and open space.

The Master Plan Study is a campus-level planning study with a very broad set of recommendations.  For some of the physical planning concepts presented herein to take full effect, they first must be incorporated into the campus’s Long-Range Development Plan and Physical Design Framework.

The Master Plan Study also guides more detailed studies yet to be undertaken for specific areas and systems, such as a Landscape Master Plan, Campus Design Guidelines, and a Bicycle Master Plan Study.

What new planning directions are presented in Physical Master Plan Study?

The most important new direction presented in the Study is to focus most of the new development on the East Campus, rather than significantly expanding development of the West Campus, which had been the focus of past long-range planning efforts.  The Study shows how the future development needed to respond to increasing student enrollment can be accommodated on the East Campus.  This new approach, which embraces infill development of the Core Campus and an increase in density in the North District, will both preserve valuable land assets and create desired synergies that come from a more vibrant and engaged campus community. 

What are the key drivers for undertaking the Master Plan Study?

The driving force of the Physical Master Plan Study is the campus leadership’s continued support and implementation of the Strategic Plan, UCR 2020: The Path to Preeminence.

UC Riverside is transforming to become a national model for academic excellence, student access, and best-in-class operations. These goals require the foundation that is provided by strategic investments – in top-notch people, programs, facilities, and infrastructure – that enable success and emphasize results.

The Master Plan Study articulates a vision for the physical environment of the campus that responds to targeted goals for future growth — to over 25,000 students by 2020 and potentially up to 30,000 students by 2025.

For UC Riverside to achieve this growth and related strategic priorities, the campus must accelerate development of its infrastructure and facilities, particularly in support of research and creative activity. This includes ensuring that the campus has new facilities and equipment, ranging from performance studios to laboratories, greenhouses to student housing, and more.  In addition, the physical setting of UC Riverside is an integral part of the educational experience for all those who come to live, learn, and work on campus. This relationship is vital to its students, faculty and staff.

What are some key themes of the Master Plan Study?

The Master Plan Study has been informed by a set of values, beliefs and principles developed by the University’s Campus and Study leadership, including the Chancellor, Steering Committee and Project Management Team. These high-level principles have profoundly informed the following four “Essential Elements” that serve as key themes in the study:

  • IDENTITY - Honor, reinforce and enhance UC Riverside’s unique identity as a thriving place for academic excellence and civic engagement amid beautiful surroundings.
  • COMMUNITY - Create connections across campus and to the community with diverse gathering spaces in the public realm to foster a vibrant, healthy, and interactive living and learning community
  • STEWARDSHIP - Serve as a living laboratory for innovative solutions that accommodate growth while building a more environmentally conscious, healthy, and vibrant campus community.
  • DENSITY - Embrace density to achieve synergies and capacity for critical campus growth. Create a new model for how a great public research university can refine and redefine the use of space to optimize the returns on the University’s capital investments.

What are the primary topics covered by the Master Plan Study?

The primary topics are represented by the Chapters of the Master Plan Study:

1: Building on the Path to Preeminence – Covers the campus vision, planning process, space strategies and planning values, beliefs and principles.

2: Methods and Analysis – Describes background data, the integrated planning approach, and existing campus conditions.

3: New Planning Framework – Presents a flexible framework for future growth and articulates key strategies around fostering community, reinforcing campus identity, exercising stewardship, defining appropriate density, and beginning a process of transforming the campus.

4Landscape and Open Space – Discusses approaches to integrate natural surroundings into a more vibrant campus open space network, illustrates the desired character of future improvements to campus landscape and natural environments, and presents strategies to beautify and activate campus edges, and create complete and pedestrian-friendly campus streets.

5Circulation and Transportation – Illustrates ways to improve mobility options, manage parking supply and demand, and improve service routes and loading areas.

6Utilities and Infrastructure – Responds to the University’s vision for energy efficiency, low carbon impact, and high-performance in its facilities and infrastructure, including buildings, cooling, heating, power, stormwater management, sanitary sewer, water distribution, and irrigation system.

7Environmental Stewardship – Assesses carbon neutrality scenarios and strategies, and offers pathways toward carbon neutrality in University operations, guided by the UC President’s Carbon Neutrality 2025 Initiative.

8Capital Investments and Priorities – Establishes guiding principles for capital asset investment decision-making, including use of data-driven analysis, and applies key principles to issues addressed in the Physical Master Plan Study.

How does the Master Plan Study differ from UC Riverside’s Long-Range Development Plan?

The Long-Range Development Plan (LRDP) is a comprehensive plan that guides the physical development, such as the location of buildings, open space, circulation, and other land uses.  An LRDP identifies the physical development needed to achieve academic goals and is an important reference document for the campus, University, and the general public.  LRDPs are based on campus academic goals and indicate how the campus will accommodate the projected number of students, faculty and staff for an established future date.  LRDPs are adopted by the Regents.  An Environmental Impact Report under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is prepared to evaluate the environmental impacts of an LRDP.

The Physical Master Plan Study is a campus-level planning study that articulates development concepts that will be incorporated into the next update of the LRDP. It is neither a detailed land use plan, nor a commitment to a set of projects. As needs are defined and supporting funding becomes available, specific projects will be developed following the defined framework. It is flexible, not prescriptive.

When will the projects and initiatives recommended in the Master Plan Study be implemented?

The Master Plan Study is a campus-level planning study with a very broad set of recommendations.  For some of the physical planning concepts presented herein to take full effect, they first must be incorporated into the campus’s Long-Range Development Plan and Physical Design Framework.

The Master Plan Study also guides more detailed future studies for specific areas and systems, such as a Landscape Master Plan, Campus Design Guidelines, and a Bicycle Master Plan Study.  These studies and others to support near-term strategic priorities for campus development will be undertaken over the course of the next year to 18 months.

In addition, there are several capital projects highlighted in the Master Plan Study that already are underway or are commencing within the next year.  These projects are near-term strategic priorities for campus development that are consistent with the existing LRDP, so they can be advanced before completion of a new LRDP.

For example, the following ongoing renovation projects reinforce the campus’s commitment to continue to invest in those buildings and campus locations that best leverage existing campus assets:

  • Batchelor Hall Interior Renovation
  • Pierce Hall Renovation and Classroom Addition
  • Boyce Vivarium Renovation
  • School of Medicine Research Building – BSL-3 Laboratory
  • School of Medicine Research Building – First Floor Fit-out

Also underway presently is the proposed Multidisciplinary Research Building 1, which will serve to meet the space needs of our growing faculty, with the addition of approximately 150,000 gross square feet (GSF).

From the range of public realm development opportunities considered, the University selected the University Avenue Gateway as the first for further exploration.  The conceptual design of this site has been developed concurrently with the Master Plan Study.  The proposed Mobility Hub would be an integral part of this gateway development opportunity.

The proposed UCR Health Outpatient Pavilion is being pursued as a potential public-private partnership on a strategic location on University Avenue on the West Campus. The proposed site was previously developed, and is immediately adjacent to the I-215 / SR-60 freeway.

Future campus renovation projects, new building additions, and open space enhancements will continue to be guided by the Master Plan Study, based on the University’s Capital Financial Plan, and subject to University approval process.

How will the off-campus community benefit from the recommendations in the Physical Master Plan Study?

There are many recommendations that address common concerns and interests of members of the campus community and members of the broader regional community.  These include, among others:

  • Improved campus identity and wayfinding, including an inviting and legible edge to campus
  • Complete and pedestrian-friendly campus streets, carefully designed for transit, pedestrians, and bicycles, instead of only private automobiles
  • Improved mobility options for all people traveling to and around the campus
  • Solar-covered rooftops and parking lots to reduce our carbon footprint and provide shaded parking areas
  • Vibrant open spaces in the “public realm” of campus to foster intellectual exchange, contemplation and community
  • Additional on-campus student housing to reduce impacts of parking demand and infrastructure needed to support commuter trips
  • More on-campus dining, entertainment, and retail options - envisioned as part of a future vibrant, mixed-use North District development, anchored by new student housing, additional recreation fields, and a Campus Event Center

How were students, staff, faculty, and alumni involved in the process of creating the Study?

The planning process was deliberate in seeking the participation of students, faculty, staff, administrators, community members, elected officials, and City of Riverside representatives. This broad engagement started with the establishment of a diverse Steering Committee with representation from these many stakeholders. The Steering Committee met approximately every two months for a year, providing critical insights on the existing campus and future aspirations, developing consensus on foundational values, beliefs and principles to guide the Master Plan Study, and responding to observations and recommendations arising out of the work of the Planning Team.

UC Riverside’s commitment to incorporating diverse perspectives also was reinforced by the formation of multi-disciplinary working groups bringing special focus to the following key areas:

  • Campus Logistics and Safety
  • City and Community
  • Student Life
  • Sustainable Infrastructure
  • Sustainable Practices
  • Technology

Further input was solicited through a variety of workshops, meetings, and outreach activities over the course of the planning process. The Planning Team engaged with approximately 450 individuals in meetings and workshop settings, including faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members. Targeted outreach to students included a series of emails, postcards, and on-campus tabling in spring of 2015, and presentations to representatives of over 150 student organizations in both spring of 2015 and winter of 2016. During the same time periods informational presentations and progress updates also were provided at public meetings of the Associated Students of UC Riverside and the Graduate Students Association.

How were community members and local organizations involved in the process of creating the Study?

The University sought to involve a wide range of constituents in the planning process, so there were several ways in which members of the community and local organizations were involved throughout the process.  One way was participation in the City and Community Working Group formed by UC Riverside to provide input to the Planning Team on the University’s relationship to the surrounding neighborhoods.  Community and civic organizations represented on the City and Community Working Group include:

  • City of Riverside Council, Ward 2
  • City of Riverside Planning Commission
  • Friends of Riverside’s Hills
  • Riverside Chamber of Commerce, East Hills Division
  • University Knolls Homeowners Group
  • University Neighborhood Association

Another way of providing input was by participating in one of the visioning workshops held on campus and in the community.  Click here for information regarding the visioning workshops

Has the University coordinated with the City of Riverside and other local agencies during the Physical Master Plan Study?

Yes, the City of Riverside participated directly in the Master Plan Study process, with representation on the Steering Committee and the on the City and Community Working Group.  The University also has worked closely with the Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) in developing the concept for the proposed Mobility Hub, which is a high priority for RTA in order to increase frequency and convenience of its service to and from campus.

Going forward, the City and UC Riverside are involved at both the staff and leadership levels in on-going communication and coordination regarding planning, development and operational issues of mutual interest and concern.

What public workshops were held as part of the Physical Master Plan Study?

Interactive workshops were held so that any interested member of the campus community and the neighborhood could participate personally and directly in the process.

Workshop 1: February 24, 2015

February workshops were structured to offer participants a chance to voice their opinions on a wide variety of issues including design, open space, building functionality, circulation, way-finding, safety, and sustainability.

At the on-campus workshop in the morning, roughly 150 faculty, staff, students, alumni and facilitators gathered to analyze and discuss what is working – and what can be improved – about the current physical campus. The participants identified these areas on a large map of the campus through the use of colored dots: green dots represented successes and red dots, challenges.

A second workshop was held in the evening at which over 50 facilitators and members of the outside community discussed the same overall questions. Participants discussed numerous areas of concern and suggested future opportunities to enhance the campus experience.

Workshop 2: April 27, 2015

In the April workshops, participants were given the opportunity to develop preferred planning scenarios. The Planning Team provided a range of planning scenarios to which the workshop attendees, working in groups, responded. Each group was given a “tool kit” of various types and characteristics of open space, such as outdoor performance space, courtyards, drought tolerant landscapes, and pedestrian pathways. In addition to providing commentary on the proposed program distribution, they used the open space tool kit to annotate each land planning scenario with their vision of ideal locations for each open space type. The planning scenarios evolved and eventually were merged into a single planning framework that reflected a consensus on the preferred aspects of the future campus.

What will all this cost, and where does the money come from?

The Master Plan Study is aimed at understanding the relative benefits of alternative approaches and locations for future development.  In that context, Chapter 8 of the study illustrates the potential relative savings and cost premiums for development in several different districts of the campus.  However, the Study does not estimate future costs for the potential development illustrated in the new master planning framework; to do so would require more information than is available currently about the timing, scope, and scale of individual development projects.  In the future, each individual project will be the subject of its own planning, cost estimating and funding/budgeting, and approval processes before it is undertaken. 

How can someone have a say in how these future initiatives and projects will be implemented?

Specific projects undertaken to implement concepts articulated in the Physical Master Plan Study are subject to the normal project reviews already applicable to projects on campus, including, when appropriate, community meetings during the process.