The Man with a (Master) Plan

When one thinks of a college campus, they often envision a quad with large open green space where students gather. But when a campus is in the middle of an urban city like Madison, having this traditional feeling can be difficult. I had the opportunity to sit down with Gary Brown, the Director of Campus Planning and Landscape Architecture, to discuss how the university works to separate itself from the city and make campus feel like just that, a campus. Click below to hear what he has to say.

Audio story transcript:

VO: From visual aesthetic to mental and environmental health, Gary Brown, director of campus planning and landscape architecture discusses the importance of having green space on campus.

SOT: When you talk about campus, the first image that most people come to is sort of a green lawn or big trees. So what we have done now is to actually create or suggest new green spaces and new courtyards.  It helps add that sense of campus, but it also sort of sets this image in people’s mind that it is this green, sustainable, environmentally important place.

VO: In an ever-growing and urbanizing world, it might seem hard to hold onto these natural spaces. Buildings are going up and trees are coming down. So how do these spaces manage to escape concrete replacement? With advanced planning from the university.

SOT: We have a Campus Master Plan. So it’s really a long-term vision and we call it a roadmap. It’s not to say we’re going to do X, Y and Z in the next five years, it’s about how much should we be building on this 936 acres we called UW-Madison, how much should we be protecting for open space and Landscape.

VO: Designing and planning campus spaces isn’t just about visual appeal, however. Brown and his team also take into account and value the health benefits that green spaces provide.

SOT: We also know that trees and green and landscaping actually help students study better. It keeps people calm, reduces their stress levels, so those kind of spaces are really important. People tend to not think about that.

VO: Brown continues to emphasize the importance of these spaces, not only for visual and mental benefits, but for environmental ones as well.

SOT: This is environmental health. We need things in the environment to help reduce stress, we need green things, we need things that are pumping and cleaning our air. The health of our citizens, the health of our students is tied directly to the campus environment.

NATSOT: *Page turn*

VO: To learn more about what the university is doing to maintain our green spaces visit the Campus Planning and Landscape Architecture website,


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