University of California, Riverside

Capital Asset Strategies


Physical Master Plan Study

UC Riverside's strategic plan, UCR 2020: The Path to Preeminence underscores the campus’ commitment to high-quality growth based on academic excellence and increased educational access. To this end, UCR anticipates growing its core faculty by 300 new ladder-rank scholars from the current 650 and increasing enrollment to 25,000 by 2020. Additionally, UCR is considering increasing enrollment to 30,000 by 2025. The planned future growth will require further investments in capital facilities and infrastructure.

The Physical Master Plan Study was undertaken to develop a vision for the physical environment of the campus that can meaningfully respond to its goals for future growth to up to 30,000 students within the planning horizon of 2015 to 2025.

Initiated in December 2014, the planning process was deliberate in seeking the participation of students, faculty, staff, administrators, community members, elected officials, and City of Riverside representatives. Stakeholder feedback was key in providing critical insights on the existing campus and future aspirations, and in developing a shared vision. The Physical Master Plan Study was completed in May, 2016.

Physical Master Plan Final report (93Mb)
Physical Master Plan Study summary booklet

About the Study
Campus Visioning

Available Documents

Chapter Summaries

Executive Summary


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. The Study is a tool to guide future decision-making regarding campus development, in support of the Strategic Plan’s academic vision and the Long-Range Development Plan.

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 to respond to targeted goals for future growth — to over 25,000 students by 2020 and potentially up to 30,000 students by 2025.

Planning Goals
  • Continue to build on the current planning theme of “simple buildings in a dramatic landscape” to celebrate the campus’ unique setting at the base of the Box Springs Mountains.
  • Articulate campus gateways to strengthen campus identity.
  • Frame views towards the heart of campus and the Belltower, and outwards to the Box Springs Mountains through the careful configuration of future buildings in the Core Campus.
  • Infill strategically located “opportunity sites” on East Campus to increase density and accommodate future growth.
  • Manage university land and research resources on West Campus as strategic assets to sustain UC Riverside’s excellence long into the future.
Essential Elements

The following four Essential Elements are the major objectives the University desires to achieve directly through the Master Plan 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.

Chapter 1: Building on the Path to Preeminence


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. The guidance provided by this Study enables the campus to retain and enhance the best aspects of its existing character, and accommodate significant new development while balancing vital programmatic, physical, capital, and environmental priorities.

Master Plan Study Goals

The Master Plan Study builds upon and articulates the following goals in response to planning objectives, regulatory requirements and environmental stewardship goals:

  • Embody the strategic goals outlined in UCR 2020: The Path to Preeminence
  • Focus academic, research, and student life program-based physical expansion on the East Campus within and immediately adjacent to the Core Campus
  • Identify a long-term strategy for the West Campus area
  • Reinforce campus identity along its primary entrances and community edges – including the potential to develop a primary campus gateway on University Avenue
  • Showcase the University’s commitment to environmental stewardship to include new stormwater management regulations and University of California system wide carbon neutrality initiatives
Chapter 2: Methods and Analysis


To be successful in developing the future campus in a way that achieves strategic goals, the University needs to understand clearly the foundation upon which these efforts will be built – the campus as it exists today. This chapter outlines the methods and results of the Planning Team’s investigation into the existing campus, its many components, and their relationship to each other and to the surrounding natural and built environment.

Strategic Inquiries

The primary goal of the Master Plan Study is to accommodate development as enrollment grows. Growth must be thoughtful and organized for the results to be successful. Some of the questions this chapter seeks to answer include:

  • What features of the campus make UC Riverside memorable?
  • How can a large demand for new space be accommodated on East Campus, which many perceive as already being built-out?
  • Which buildings and open spaces most contribute to the University’s desired setting, and how can they inform the aesthetics of future development on campus?
  • What opportunities exist to reduce campus energy demand and resource consumption even as UC Riverside experiences significant growth?
  • What impediments exist to connectivity within the campus and to the surrounding neighborhoods?
Key Findings

The Planning Team assessed opportunities, challenges and constraints on campus utilizing a range of methodologies. This approach engaged students, faculty, staff, administrators, community members, elected officials, and City of Riverside representatives through workshops and Steering Committee meetings. The Planning Team conducted “walk-throughs” of the campus to observe and experience open spaces and buildings first-hand. Some of the broader observations of the Planning Team are:

  • Topography, distance and lack of shading limit pedestrian movement.
  • Research activities are separated from academic and support programs.
  • There is little activity on campus on the weekends and evenings.
  • Entry points to the campus lack a clear University identity.
  • The Core Campus is at a relatively low density of development.
  • Demand for on-campus housing exceeds the University’s current ability to accommodate it.
  • Many buildings, particularly the older ones, are energy-inefficient.
Chapter 3: New Planning Framework


The broad goal of the Master Plan Study is simple: to preserve and enhance the successful aspects of the physical campus – its connection to the natural setting, its legacy buildings and open spaces, and its rich supply of agricultural research land – while re-envisioning the campus components that will not meet future needs. This chapter proposes a new planning framework comprised of a series of strategic priorities to guide growth while embodying the intent of the Master Plan Study’s four essential elements (see Chapter 1).

Strategic Priorities
  • Address common interests of campus and community by creating a safe environment for pedestrians and bicycle riders at the campus perimeter with managed service and vehicular access.
  • Foster a sense of campus community by enhancing campus districts and linking them through pedestrian promenades.
  • Infill strategically located “Opportunity Sites” on East Campus to increase density and accommodate future growth.
  • Manage university land and research resources on West Campus as strategic assets to sustain UC Riverside’s excellence long into the future.
Key Outcomes

Future expansion of the campus will be consolidated on East Campus, while West Campus will be retained for future uses and agricultural research. East Campus development will help retain intellectual synergies that exist, and promote a more connected community by bringing a diverse range of academic, research, and student life programs together in close physical proximity.

With this expansion, a number of buildings and public realm spaces found to be underserving the campus have been identified as “opportunity sites.” Recommendations for the development of opportunity sites vary, including the construction of new buildings, the adaptive reuse of existing buildings, the specification of desirable building heights, and the development of well-defined site features like courtyards and pathways.

Other campus improvements include enhancing campus gateways, circulation, and the community interface through projects such as the proposed University Avenue Gateway and conceptual Mobility Hub. The new planning framework will include strategies that conserve energy and material resources, and promote compact development and passive resource conservation.

Chapter 4: Landscape and Open Space


The UC Riverside campus identity is strongly linked to its natural setting, including arroyos descending from the steep hillsides of the Box Spring Mountains above campus, and on-campus hillsides to the southeast. The campus was developed as a green oasis in a semi-arid setting. UC Riverside is also proud of its legacy of citrus research and cultivation. Campus growth and redevelopment should strive to respect and integrate the natural beauty and agricultural legacy of the region in an enduring way.

The Master Plan Study supports strengthening and protecting the character of campus by enhancing connections to its environmental context while improving the public realm.

Strategic Priorities
  • Strengthen UC Riverside’s distinct sense of place by integrating the campus public realm and its natural setting.
  • Strengthen and expand the framework of open spaces to embrace new campus opportunity sites through a cohesive and vibrant network of outdoor malls, courtyards, gathering spaces, and pathways.
  • Integrate stormwater management into the open space framework to satisfy regulatory requirements through innovative, attractive, and cost-efficient solutions.
    Key Outcomes

    The overall vision is to maintain the elegant, low-impact presence of the campus in its stunning natural setting, thus ensuring that new construction continues to build on the theme of “simple buildings in a dramatic landscape.” Dramatic views of sharply defined rocky peaks provide stark visual reminders of the campus setting and a strong sense of place.

    A unique proposal of the Master Plan Study is Citrus Walk, a key new connection will lead to the toe of the hill just south of Anderson Hall, a prominent future building location at the visual terminus of Martin Luther King Boulevard. The existing Citrus Drive can be transformed from a regular campus street, to a curbless pedestrian and bicycle pathway, connecting back to the Carillon Mall.

    Also, through targeted turf removal, irrigation efficiency, computerized monitoring, and the use of graywater, UC Riverside will make advancements to meet the UC Policy on Sustainable Practices and state regulations.

Chapter 5: Transportation and Circulation


UC Riverside faculty, staff, students and visitors travel to and within campus using a variety of modes. Through the initiatives resulting from the Physical Master Plan Study, the University will improve the mobility of all people traveling to and around the campus. The proposed strategic priorities will guide the University’s future decisions regarding transportation policies and circulation infrastructure. These initiatives include creating a campus Mobility Hub and increasing emphasis on active transportation modes, parking management, and pedestrian access and design.

Strategic Priorities
    • Promote an integrated circulation framework that engenders safe passage for pedestrians and bicycle riders and accommodates automobiles efficiently.
    • Recognize the increasing relevance of bicycles as a choice mode of travel and integrate desired routes with the city and campus’s circulation framework.
    • Provide additional on-campus student housing as enrollment grows, to reduce parking demand and minimize the roadway infrastructure improvements that would be required for commuter trips.
Key Outcomes

The proposed Mobility Hub will provide a centralized transit stop on campus, improving transit access. It will also provide the opportunity to enhance bicycle and pedestrian accessibility within the Core Campus by improving bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in the surrounding areas.

New parking structures may be constructed for the proposed additional student housing and Campus Event Center, along with additional parking on Lot 30. The Master Plan Study estimates the campus could potentially need to add up to 2,580 parking spaces to meet future demand.

Chapter 6: Infrastructure and Utilities


The UC System’s new Sustainable Practices Policy and other state regulations place strict requirements on campus energy, stormwater, and water systems, including carbon neutrality from operations by 2025, on-campus management of stormwater, a 20% per-capita water use reduction by 2020, and an additional 36% reduction of the same by 2025. This chapter outlines solutions to reduce emissions from power, cooling, and heating. These solutions involve balancing the cost and resource savings advantages of combining existing systems with the efficiency gains that can be made by implementing new systems.

Strategic Priorities
    • Reduce building carbon emissions, increase energy efficiency in current building stock and design highly efficient new buildings, such that specified Energy Use Intensity targets are met.
    • Utilize landscaping based on native, water-efficient plants to minimize the need for irrigation and introduce drought-tolerant plant materials.
Key Outcomes

The Master Plan Study has been instrumental in developing Energy User Intensities (EUIs) for different types of building on campus, both existing and new. These EUI targets are aggressive and a necessary first step towards achieving carbon neutrality. Increased storm water detention will be needed and is planned for through a multiple low impact design strategies integrated into the campus landscape.

Chapter 7: Environmental Stewardship


The University of California boasts a robust sustainability program driven by a nationally-recognized comprehensive sustainability policy and leading-edge presidential initiatives. Its sustainability policy positions the system campuses as leaders in environmentally sound operations.

Overwhelming scientific consensus points to climate change being driven by the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels. UC is responding to this growing environmental crisis with direct action by committing to emit zero greenhouse gases on a net annual basis from its buildings and vehicle fleet by 2025.

Strategic Priorities
    • Implement high-performance retrofits of existing buildings and design new buildings to high-performance standards so that both meet recommended EUI targets.
    • Install solar photovoltaic panels on all campus non-residential buildings and install solar hot water heaters on all campus residential buildings to reduce carbon emissions from electricity use.
Key Outcomes

Achieving carbon neutrality at UC Riverside will require a combination of strategies including reducing existing building energy use by almost half, achieving performance 36% better than California energy code for new buildings, installing solar photovoltaics and solar thermal hot water systems, committing to sourcing significant amounts of off-site generated renewable energy and as needed, purchasing carbon offsets.

Chapter 8: Capital Investment and Priorities


This chapter discusses a decision-making framework for campus capital asset investments. The objective is to facilitate comprehensive, rational, and fiscally responsible planning, prioritization, and decision-making for investments in capital projects at UC Riverside. Illustrative examples are provided.

Strategic Priorities
  • Identify potential capital asset investments to address campus needs and evaluate them based on both programmatic and financial measures of anticipated returns on investment.
  • Seek low-investment, high-impact campus interventions to remediate legacy challenges that have hindered achieving UC Riverside's strategic objectives.
  • Consider relative costs and benefits of alternate strategies, not just absolute cost levels.
  • Utilize best-in-class economic and financial modeling tools to objectively quantify the estimated costs and benefits of selected real asset investment strategies. Evaluate trade-offs among alternatives and monitor returns on investment over time.
Key Outcomes

The Master Plan Study helped define relative cost premiums/discounts for campus development specific to the campus area within which a new building or open space development project would occur. The comparative cost data was an additional point of reference in determining in which areas of campus growth should be focused.


Mobility Hub Concept Study

The UCR Mobility Hub is envisioned as a new gateway to campus that integrates transit within an environment that supports multiple campus-oriented activities at the present location of Parking Lot 19. It is a key element of UCR’s recently completed Physical Master Plan Study and is intended to address current and future mobility needs of the campus.

Key benefits of this proposal include:

  • Creating a single, central off -street location for RTA bus routes servicing UC Riverside to converge
  • Improving connectivity to the downtown Riverside, the city and the region
  • Offering a viable and attractive alternative to needing to drive
  • Strengthening UC Riverside’s identity at its perimeter at the terminus of University Avenue by creating a new gateway experience
Available Documents

DRAFT UC Riverside Mobility Hub Feasibility Study

Central Campus Neighborhood Study

Plant Growth Environments Study

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Contact Information

Capital Asset Strategies
1223 University Ave Suite 240

Tel: (951) 827-2433
Fax: (951) 827-2402

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