III. The Campus Landscape
The campus consists of 650 acres. Conservation areas are significant zones of natural beauty with their Longleaf Pines, Oaks, Dogwoods and native Magnolias. The conservation areas are on occasion the site of controlled burns where fire is deliberately set to naturally clear and manage these zones. As a result, these areas are critical to many of the University's academic departments as "outdoor" classrooms and labs.
The Longleaf Pine was at one time one of the most important trees in the Southeast forest. Due to excessive timbering practices, only limited stands of this tree still exist. Thus, the University has made a commitment to the conservation and replanting of this tree on its grounds.
The Herbert Bluethenthal Memorial Wildflower Preserve sits in the center of the campus and represents the University's commitment to the preservation of the rich and varied flora of southeastern coastal North Carolina. The Campus Commons next to the Preserve is a recently constructed open space which features a pond and open air amphitheater at the west end of the Chancellor's Walk. There are many areas around the University where special attention is given to landscaping. Traditional plantings are abundant as well as numerous perennial beds which enhance the University's outdoor spaces with color and texture. At the University's original quad at Hoggard, James and Alderman Halls, a significant allee of large live oaks exists along a great lawn.
The University expects its on-campus population to exceed 15,000 by the year 2020. With this projected growth, the commitment to preservation of the campus landscape zones and arboretum efforts is critical.
Several site visits to the University allowed for the detailed analysis of its landscape character and natural features. In summary, the landscape analysis can be divided into natural and developed areas.
The natural areas, which include large tree save areas, such as that at College Road, as well as the Conservation areas and the Preserve, provide valuable resources through their natural character. The preservation and support of these areas is critical. The scale of the existing vegetation areas is significant in itself when compared to the development along College Road and surrounding areas which have become very urbanized over the years.
The interpretive or educational value of the conservation areas is presently underutilized. Additional trails and interpretive graphics would present information to the visitor who was not accompanied by a tour guide. The aesthetic value of these areas lies in their natural beauty and little landscape improvement is necessary beyond entry enhancements or edge treatments. Native plant materials in a traditional garden layout would complement the character of these areas.
The developed areas or the "cultivated" landscape of the University are more formal in character due to the scale, style and arrangement of the architecture. The academic buildings along the Chancellor's walk are arranged in a linear fashion and create a bold corridor effect along the sidewalk from Randall Library to Wagoner Hall. The design objective for this garden space is to break down the linearity of this walkway by creating seating and gathering nodes in a garden setting at building entries. The more open natural spaces at the Commons and in front of Wagoner Hall present informal spaces for recreation and relaxation. These areas are important as a contrast to the developed nature of the Chancellor's Walk.
The University development as it fronts College Road is viewed as the public side of the campus. The balance here between built and unbuilt is very comfortable and the landscape areas are well-maintained. This landscape character is important as it gives the first impression or image of the campus. Poor views to areas off-site can be minimized and the view of the numerous parking lots softened through planting.