The Board of Regents has approved a master plan designed to transform Western Nevada Community College from a collection of buildings into a campus.
"The campus has really developed randomly and we wanted to put some order to it," said architect Max Hershenow.
Hershenow and WNCC Vice President for Development Helaine Jesse said the campus has developed as a "collection of buildings" with no long term view of how they would fit together.
She said the idea was to create a collegiate atmosphere similar to the University of Nevada, Reno, with a grassy, tree-lined quad as its focal point.
"We wanted to create a pedestrian campus with buildings organized around a quad," he said. "It's an opportunity to create a much different scenario."
The plan, contained in a 50-page document, describes a 55-acre core campus within the 195 acres WNCC owns at the north end of Carson City. The 20-year plan estimates the campus could provide educational space for up to 13,750 students without having to build on earthquake fault lines or in the path of drainage and runoff from Vicee Canyon above the campus.
WNCC now has about 3,430 students in Carson City.
The key, Hershenow said, is to provide a focus for the campus that will encourage students to want to remain there.
"At present, there is no central space or feature around which the campus is organized," according to the plan.
"The prominent position of parking and the lack of outdoor gathering spaces and pedestrian connections between buildings give the campus a utilitarian look."
The proposed quad would be built in front of the existing Bristlecone building and adjacent to the library project now in design. Future buildings would be build around the quad with tree lined walkways connecting to other parts of the campus.
Hershenow said the idea is to create a campus where students can walk from parking on the outside of the campus area to any classroom within five minutes and to provide an atmosphere where students will want to linger and interact with each other.
Jesse told the board the plan also supports long term goals at WNCC.
"While the immediate goal is to strengthen WNCC's role as a two-year institution, the ultimate goal is to lay the groundwork for a four-year college with a ... mission offering certificate programs, associate degrees and applied baccalaureate programs," the master plan says.
In addition, she said WNCC has agreed to turn over 11,000 square feet of land to Carson City in return for Carson City abandoning 57,000 square feet of right-of-way that would have become a busy arterial dividing the campus.
The regents voted unanimously to approve the master plan.