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A Masterful Master Plan: Gainesville State College

By George Sellers, Rosser International, Inc.




Gainesville College is planning to construct a Welcome Center/Security Building in the area where a new Entrance Drive enters the campus. The original 2001 Master Plan proposed a traffic circle at this intersection.

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Rosser International Inc., a landscape architectural firm based in Atlanta, Georgia, submitted a magnificent mast plan to Gainesville College, a vibrant and growing institution of higher education in the university system of Georgia. The College intends to develop and implement an overall Campus Landscape Development Plan. The plan will concentrate on the following areas: Entrances, Roadways, Parking Areas, Campus Spaces and Walkways.

Located in the Oakwood Community of Gainesville, Georgia, the campus consists of a 147 acre campus plus the wooded, undeveloped 80 acre Gainesville College Foundation Tract to the north. In addition a portion of the site is occupied by Lanier Technical Institute (approximately 20 acres). The college enrollment is approximately 6,000 full and part-time students. The plan was accepted and is now in the process of completion.






In the plan the landscape architect used shade trees along the campus roads plus landscaping at intersections, islands and parking areas to help create a unified image and a hierarchy of spaces and circulation. From a planning and functional standpoint, the best location for the Welcome/Security Building was the wooded, undeveloped southeast corner of the intersection. This will be on the right-hand side of the entrance drive before the traffic circle.


Among the innovative site recommendations was a stormwater management plan utilizing water gardens, ponds and bio-swales. Campus "edges" or perimeter boundaries as well as the adjacent land uses are important to one's impression and the character of the institution. Gainesville College has two primary edges and two secondary edges. The primary edges are Mundy Mill Road to the south and Robinson Road to the east.











Landscaping around the banks and edges of the ponds is designed to address the campus geese problem. Some success addressing this problem has occurred when the pond banks and edges are planted with native and wetland plants. These plants create a barrier for the geese as they attempt to travel from the water to feed in the grass areas. It is very important to protect this plant barrier area until it is established. A low wire fence will be placed in this vegetation barrier to further discourage the geese movement.


Campus Entrances and Vehicular Circulation

Mundy Mill Road is a heavily traveled commercial/retail corridor that currently provides the only access to the campus via entrances at Landrum Education Drive and Mathis Drive. This edge of the campus is the "front door" of the college and offers exceptional views of college facilities across Mills Pond and the open lawn area. As the college continues to grow and expand its facilities, it is important that this portion of the campus and its views be preserved and enhanced. Flanking the eastern edge of the campus is the Robinson Road residential neighborhood.

The layout of the college is a good example of campus planning where a loop road or the vehicular circulation surrounds the academic core. Ideally, parking and nonacademic services and facilities are located outside the loop road, making the academic core dedicated to the pedestrian except for required service and maintenance activities. Gainesville College has by necessity and for proximity to facilities, placed perhaps 50-percent of campus parking inside the loop road within the academic core.






Because urban runoff eventually ends up in local streams it's important to catch, cool and filter it. The retention pond holds urban runoff directed across the collection area. Increases in water temperature can impact pond and stream ecology. Infiltration is a great way to reduce thermal pollution, which causes a decrease in the level of dissolved oxygen. The water will be cooled because the soil temperature remains a constant 55?F below the frost line. There, pollutants such as nutrients and hydrocarbons are futher treated by the microorganisms that exist in the soils.


Open Space and Natural Areas

Existing and future campus parking areas present many opportunities to improve their appearance and contribute to better stormwater management through landscaping techniques. In addition to installing trees in landscape islands to provide shade, many parking areas can be designed or renovated to include bioswales or rain gardens to control runoff and improve water quality. Whenever possible native plants and drought tolerant plant materials should be selected for installation. These plants will require less maintenance, less water and attract wildlife.






The College, as part of its water quality improvement program, plans to implement rainwater harvesting for irrigation in the existing parking areas. The three components of a rainwater harvesting system are: the supply (rainfall and run-off), the demand (landscape water requirement), and the system that moves the water to the plants. Storage is an additional element. Collection and distribution systems range from simple to complex. In a simple system the rainwater is used immediately and usually consists of a catchment area and means of distribution, which operates by gravity.


Another way to reduce costs and maintenance would be to reduce the amount of campus lawn areas that require mowing. These former lawn areas could be planted with wildflowers and or drought tolerant grasses. Landscaping around the banks and edges of the ponds may be an effective way to address the campus geese problem.






Gainesville College is fortunate to have close to 100 acres of open space and natural areas. A network of existing and proposed walks and trails for walking, running, hiking and biking will tie all these areas together. These areas, particularly the Foundation Tract, offer excellent opportunities for the college to develop outdoor classrooms and laboratories for course studies and research in the natural sciences and environmental subjects.


Campus Spaces

Within the Academic Core a strong pedestrian network of sidewalks has been developed, generally in a North-South or East-West direction.

Another important project within the core area is the design and installation of a new student plaza. The hardscape or paving will be scored concrete and brick similar to that used in the quadrangle, along with seat walls, shade trees, landscape planting, site lighting and site furnishings. This plaza will provide a much needed outdoor gathering space for this portion of the campus.






RECOMMENDED PLANTINGS: The Master Plan includes a comprehensive plant list covering shade and flowering trees, shrubs and ground cover along the campus roads, landscape islands, intersections and parking areas.

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The Athletic and Recreation Areas

The Athletic and Recreation areas occupy approximately 25 acres in the northwest quadrant of the campus running parallel to the Norfolk Southern Railroad track. The running track with an interior soccer field and softball field encompass 11 acres of this zone. The Physical Education Building, parking and 8 tennis courts utilize approximately 6 acres. Trustee Pond, the amphitheater and the open meadow area take-up the remaining 8 acres of the area. In addition to the formal athletic activities, many students, faculty and citizens use the track and this area for running, walking and biking.






ABOVE & BELOW: Pedestrian scale lights replaced the existing 20 foot high "shoebox" fixtures in this space and other parts of the campus. The lights have a simple tulip contour luminaire made of high strength cast aluminum and polycarbonate globe on 12 foot high poles.







The remainder of the open space and natural areas include the 6 acre front lawn and Mills Pond area, the 4.5 acre woods along Mundy Mill Road between Mathis Drive and the railroad and the 10 acre Trustee Pond/Meadow area. The College should plan to protect and preserve these valuable areas and resources. A network of existing and proposed walks and trails for walking, running, hiking and biking should be developed to tie all these areas together.

The Landscape Development plan includes planting street trees all along Mathis Campus, Landrum Education and the Plant Operations Drives. The trees will be planted at approximately 30 feet on center and will be integrated with the existing trees. The recommended street tree to be planted is the Willow Oak (Quercus phellos). Intersections will be emphasized with assorted flowering trees, shrubbery and seasonal color beds.






The campus walkways offer a pleasant experience for people as they move through the campus. Plans called for decreasing the widths of many existing sidewalks to make them feel less like driveways and less likely to be used by vehicles. Throughout the campus, pedestrian circulation will be improved and vehicular circulation discouraged by narrowing walkways, installation of new or resurfaced pavement and fixed or removable bollards.


Best Management Practices

As part of the Campus Landscape Development Plan, it is important that the College identify and implement several Best Management Practices (BMP) with regard to Water Quality and Storm Water Management. One way to manage storm water events is through infiltration to reduce the volume of runoff and contain potential pollutants on-site.






Permeable paving surfaces reduce runoff by increasing infiltration into the soil. There are a number of paving surfaces available from paver block systems, geoweb reinforced grass surfaces, porous asphalt and concrete paving materials. These systems are designed to deal with high and low intensity storms. Here, non-grouted flagstones allow storm water runoff to infiltrate between the stones and into the soil.


Soil quality is an important factor in its ability to absorb and hold water in porous space throughout the soil profile. The organic matter content of the soil is the key to absorbing, holding and filtering water on-site which reduces the amount of runoff. Restoring and protecting soil quality will be a key component of on-site water management systems. This is done by minimizing land disturbance, avoiding compaction, increasing organic matter and using native vegetation.

Another method of storm water management is the use of bioswales which is a vegetated swale and an alternative to standard below ground storm sewers. They intercept or receive impervious surface runoff and blend infiltration and slow conveyance of storm water. Bioswales are low or depressed areas that collect runoff from paved areas, roofs and drainage areas.






Coordinated site furnishings such as benches, tables, bicycle racks and trash receptacles will also improve in this revitalized space. Seat walls and raised planters may also be incorporated in the design. The hardscape or paving for the walkways and plazas will be scored concrete with brick patterns and edging to reflect and complement existing materials and colors.


Parking Areas

Currently, the new parking lot being constructed on the east side of Landrum Education Drive north of Continuing Education Building has incorporated bioswales in the center of the parking lot to collect the sheet flow runoff from the asphalt pavement. When possible, new construction projects or renovation of existing facilities should be evaluated for opportunities to utilize bioswales.

As part of the quadrangle design effort, the existing front parking lot and the pair of east-west sidewalks will be evaluated to see if the removal of one of the sidewalks and parking lot reconfiguration will yield 50 to 60 new parking spaces.

Similar to bioswales are rain gardens which are shallow depression areas planted with native vegetation that absorb and infiltrate runoff from impervious surfaces. The apparent shallow swale or depressed area between the softball field and the amphitheater meadow looks as if it would be a good location to install a rain garden and thus improve the quality of water flowing into Trustee Pond. This rain garden project could be undertaken and monitored by students in the natural and environmental science programs. Additional management practices could be the installation of fore bays or small vegetated ponds on the upstream side of Mills and Trustee Ponds that would provide pre-treatment to the runoff as well as collecting silt before it enters the pond.

Other effective stormwater management techniques include: a rainwater harvesting program of collecting rooftop runoff in containers for irrigation; open channel flow of runoff in grassed swales is another alternative to the more conventional approach of directing surface water to an underground pipe system.






This Master Plan covers the full 147 acre campus. Another important project within the core area is the design and installation of a new student plaza on the west side of the Dunlap-Mathis Building (D). This plaza will provide a much needed outdoor gathering space for this portion of the campus.


Campus Walkways

Permeable paving surfaces can also reduce site runoff by increasing infiltration into the soil. There are a number of paving surfaces available from paver block systems, geoweb reinforced grass surfaces, porous asphalt and concrete paving materials. These systems can be designed to deal with high and low intensity storms. The water is collected on roofs, paved areas or on the soil surface. In some cases, containers, tanks or cisterns are used to hold water for later use. Channels, ditches, swales and pipes can be utilized to move the water. Elaborate distribution systems may require pumps, gates and diverters to direct the water from one area to another. In a gravity system, perforated pipes and drip irrigation systems can be designed to distribute the water and irrigate the plant materials.

As water quality on campus is improved, particularly in the Mills and Trustee ponds and the cost of municipal water increases. The College may also want to consider irrigating from these existing natural water sources. A campus irrigation system would most likely include wells, pumps, and controls. The irrigation system could be phased, with the athletic core and facilties implemented first, followed by the academic core area.

The principal tree selected for use along the walkways in the quadrangle is the "October Glory" Maple. It is one of the best Red Maple cultivars, has excellent orange to red fall color with a lovely pyramidal to rounded outline. It is a reasonably, fast grower and ultimately reaches 45 to 50- feet in height with a spread of 35 to 40-feet. Other flowering trees such as crape myrtle and dogwoods will be used for interest and accent.

Pedestrian scale lights will replace the existing 20 foot high "shoebox" fixtures in this space and other parts of the campus. The proposed lights have a simple tulip contour luminaire made of high strength cast aluminum and polycarbonate globe on 12 foot high poles.

New Welcome and Security Building

Gainesville College is planning to construct a Welcome Center/Security Building in the area where the new Entrance Drive from the I-985 Access Road enters the campus at the intersection of Landrum Education and Mathis Drives. The original 2001 Master Plan proposed a traffic circle at this intersection.

This facility could be sited on any of the corners except for the northeast corner occupied by Lanier Technical Institute. No programming has been done for this building; an assumption is it will be a one-story structure housing a welcome center component and the campus security office. It would likely contain a reception area, office spaces, restroom(s), break room, a mechanical room and a storage space.

The rationale for locating the building on this site is it gives the opportunity for visitors to stop and receive information and directions before entering the campus. It is on the preferred side of the driveway from a traffic and access standpoint and it allows security to monitor vehicles and persons entering and leaving the campus. Visitors can leave this building and easily access any portion of the campus via Landrum Education or Mathis Drives.

Campus Gathering Spaces

The most important and meaningful gathering space on campus is the quadrangle located in the center of the academic core. It is anchored on the north end by the Student Activities Building and the circular landscape planter with the anchor sculpture and front parking lot on the southern end. The area measures is flanked on both side by the Administration Building and Academic Buildings I and III. The space is defined by the buildings and parallel sidewalks.

The proposed improvements for the quadrangle call for relocating and reducing the width of the sidewalks, planting shade trees along the walks and installing pedestrian scale site lighting. A raised plaza featuring a pavilion is planned in front of the Student Activities to add an attractive architectural element to this end of the quadrangle. A smaller clock tower pavilion is proposed for the other end of the quadrangle. This structure in the small plaza where the sidewalks intersect will offer an informal meeting and gathering place. A fountain or some form of water feature is also programmed for this space. Its design and actual location is currently under study.

A new student plaza or formal gathering space is proposed for the open area on the west side of the Dunlap-Mathis Building. The preliminary plaza plan encompasses approximately 8,000 S.F. with concrete and brick paving, shade trees and landscape, seat walls and site lighting. Its design will continue to permit service and vehicular access. Methods for mediation of the mechanical equipment noise will be investigated, and may include landscape materials, and modification to the open fence-type gates.

In both the Quadrangle and the new plaza, ADA accessibility to the buildings will be improved and incorporated into the new designs, thus replacing the awkward straight ramps.






Water Quality

Poor water quality is a major issue threatening public health and endangering surrounding fragile ecosystems. The main dangers to human health are from toxic algal blooms, pathogens, heavy metals and biocides. Ecosystems may be adversely affected by high levels of salt, nutrients, a range of toxicants, and turbid water.

Independent 3rd party tests have shown that BMPs given regular maintenance are effective in the treatment of stormwater and removal of harmful pollutants. Varying site conditions may require different stormwater treatment solutions, however the multiplicity of BMPs available make this a reasonably easy problem to solve.











Rain Gauge


Rain Gauge

Rain gauges are often used to determine a relationship between the amount of rain which occurs during a storm event and the amount of runoff which flows into a management practice. From this information a relationship can be found between rainfall, watershed characteristics and the concentration of pollutants which enter the practice.






Flow Meter


Flow Meter

Flow meters measure the volume of stormwater passing a given point over time and the level of the water surface.






Sequential Sampler


Sequential Sampler

Placed at the inlet and one at the outlet of a facility. These samplers are activated by storm flow, with one sample captured in a bottle for each specified volume of stormwater. Bottles are collected and analyzed to determine the concentration of pollutants flowing into and out of the practice. Performance of the practice is determined by difference between inflow and outflow of pollutants.

Measuring Effectiveness

  • Stormwater management facilities or practices vary in their ability to remove pollutants from storm runoff.Wet ponds with extended detention and shallow marsh ponds which are properly designed and constructed, will remove 80 - 90% of the suspended solids (particles of sediment and organic matter), 40 - 60% of the phosphorous compounds, and 30 - 40% of the nitrogen compounds.
  • Since the ponds trap the majority of the organic matter in the stormwater, they can significantly reduce biological oxygen demand and help increase dissolved oxygen in downstream waters.






Recommended Trees & Shrubs

Implementation of a Landscape Development program for the campus roadways, intersections and parking areas is recommended. Whenever possible native plants and drought tolerant plant materials should be selected for installation. These plants will require less maintenance, less water and attract wildlife. The principal tree selected for use along the walkways in the quadrangle is the "October Glory" Maple. Other flowering trees such as crape myrtle and dogwoods will be used for interest and accent.






River Birch
(Betula nigra - "Heritage" or "Dura-Heat")







"Okame" Cherry







Yoshino Cherry
(Prunus xyedoensis)







Crapemyrtle
(Lagerstoemia sp.)







Willow Oak
(Zelkova serrata)







Butterflybush
(Buddleia dsoudii)







"Blue Chip" Juniper
(Juniperus horizontalis)







"Octobor Glory" Red Maples







Japanese Camellia
(Camella japonica)


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September 21, 2019, 11:59 pm PDT

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