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University selects consultant for Ridges Master Plan Update project

The Ridges Master Plan Committee has announced the selection of Schooley Caldwell Associates (SCA), a Columbus-based architectural and engineering firm, to aid the team of Ohio University employees and Athens-area community members in crafting an updated master plan for The Ridges.

Members of The Ridges Master Plan Committee heard presentations from four firms, and selected SCA based on the experience and expertise the team provides in historic preservation, land use planning and project development, said Director of University Planning and Space Management Shawna Bolin. Bolin serves as one of the co-chairs of the Master Plan Committee, along with Vice President for Research and Creative Activity and Dean of the Graduate College Joseph Shields.

“Members of our consultant selection team were very impressed with SCA and the team they put together for our project. After several months of analysis, research and prep, our Ridges Master Plan Committee is thrilled to be able to get on with the most critical elements of The Ridges planning process,” Bolin said.

About Schooley Caldwell Associates

SCA, which has been in business for 70 years, has become nationally recognized for historic preservation and renovation through such projects as the state capitol renovations in Utah and Minnesota. SCA has ties to OHIO, having participated in a number of projects on the Athens Campus, including:

  • Shively Hall renovation
  • Bentley Hall renovation
  • Copeland Hall renovation
  • Kantner Hall renovation
  • The Voinovich Center at The Ridges

Their work around the state of Ohio includes the historic preservation of the Ohio Statehouse, the Ohio Judicial Center, the Lazarus Building and the Franklin Park Conservatory. For The Ridges Master Plan Update, Schooley Caldwell Associates will work closely with MKSK, a Columbus-based landscape architecture and planning firm that has developed more than 100 campus master plans.

“Our firms are really optimistic about the potential that The Ridges holds and we are eager to get started,” said SCA President and CEO Bob Loversidge. “We’re also excited that Ohio University is interested in public involvement and input. Both Schooley Caldwell and MKSK frequently work on visible, public projects, so our firms will co-facilitate the public involvement process. We’re very much looking forward to constructive dialogue. We know the University and the community want to see something positive happen at The Ridges, and we’re up to the challenge of coming up with innovative ideas about what that could be.”

Ridges Master Plan Committee member and Athens County Planner Lori Burchett said she was enthusiastic about the choice of SCA.

“While their extensive resume is impressive, particularly with historic preservation projects, I was most interested in their approach for implementation, public participation and financing strategies for public institutions,” said Burchett. “They have assembled a talented team of professionals that will address all aspects of this planning effort with a specific focus on preserving the historic integrity of The Ridges. Many of these professionals have broad experience with historic preservation efforts, university planning and urban design projects around the state and I am looking forward to seeing what ideas and strategies they will bring to Ohio University.”  

The Ridges Master Plan Update process explained

The site of the former Athens Lunatic Asylum has been the focus of much work and conversation since Ohio University President Roderick McDavis charged a Ridges Advisory Committee in July with the task of providing advice and guidance to the then newly-created Ridges Master Plan Committee.

The Master Plan Committee, which is made up of several University administrators, members of the academic community, and city and county planners, is working to create The Ridges Master Plan Update - 2014 document. This document, building on the work of prior planning efforts, is intended to propose new ideas and strategies by which the University can utilize the asset of The Ridges and associated lands to further the University’s mission. The Ridges Master Plan Update – 2014 work will also be integrated into the Comprehensive Master Plan effort for the Athens Campus that will be initiated later this summer.
The Advisory Committee first met in December and is holding quarterly meetings throughout the length of the master plan update process to provide guidance and feedback along the way.

Ridges Structure

The process is meant to be inclusive of the community, explained Bolin. SCA will facilitate open forums to field input on targeted aspects throughout the plan development process, as well as use online tools to gather feedback.

The public involvement process will begin with a “Meet and Greet” event scheduled for early June. “We want to introduce ourselves to the community and start to hear from them,” Loversidge explained. “At this point we’re still in the early research stage of the project, so we won’t have a lot of ideas to share just yet. But we still want to meet people, tell them about our backgrounds, listen to what they may have to say, and hopefully assure them that the planning for The Ridges is in good hands.”

The timeline to update the Master Plan document is expected to conclude with a final report ready in spring of 2015. Currently, the Master Plan Committee is meeting monthly. The Master Plan Committee is doing a considerable amount of prep work for the consultants, explained Bolin, by pulling together data and information, reviewing the progress and providing guidance on the work of three subcommittees: Land Use/Development, Existing Building Strategy and Academic Uses, and reviewing past planning efforts. The Master Plan Committee will use information gathered to help guide the consultants’ focus in their work moving forward.


SCA has proposed their portion of the project be considered in five phases:

Phase 1 – Project Initiation, which will consist of meeting with the Master Plan Committee and collecting information and data about the project. An overall schedule will be refined at this point, including workshops and meetings which invite public participation.
Phase 2 – Goals, Strategy, Visioning, Ideation, which allows the consultants to work with members of the subcommittees to discuss possibilities for each aspect of the Master Plan. The goal of this phase is to develop a strategic vision, new uses and a new identity for The Ridges.
Phase 3 – Exploration and Testing, which allows for the narrowing of ideas generated in Phase 2. Key concepts and financial feasibility will be tested in this phase to allow the consultants to establish a direction for the project.
Phase 4 – Refinements and Conclusions, which includes preparing diagrams, plans, renderings and photos to illustrate proposed recommendations with regard to building renovations, additions and new buildings. The Master Plan drafted during this phase may also be presented to subcommittee members and the public.
Phase 5 – Final Plan and Presentations, which will produce the final Master Plan report, which the Master Plan Committee will then present to the Advisory Committee for feedback.  

Bolin explains both The Ridges Master Plan Update -2014 document and any additional or separate recommendations from the Advisory Committee will be sent to President McDavis for consideration.


Roles and Responsibilities

The Ridges Advisory Committee members, charged to provide guidance, feedback and recommendations on the master plan that will developed by The Ridges Master Plan Committee, include:

Stephen Golding (chair), vice president for Finance and Administration and president’s Designee

Charlie Adkins, Athens County commissioner

Jim Sands, Athens City Council president

Marjorie Stone, Athens resident

Paul Logue, Athens city planner and Mayor’s Designee

Pam Callahan, Athens resident

The Ridges Master Plan Committee members are charged with updating the master plan for The Ridges. They include:

Shawna Bolin, co-chair, director of University Planning and Space Management

Joseph Shields, co-chair, Academic Uses subcommittee chair, vice president for Research and Creative Activity and dean of the Graduate College

Donna Goss, Land Use/Development subcommittee chair, director of Engagement and Real Estate Management

Ben Stuart, Existing Buildings subcommittee chair, executive director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment

Cliff Hamilton, environmental engineer

Dick Planisek, director of Facilities Programming

John Day, associate dean of Academic Affairs

Joe Adams, associate vice president of Safety and Risk Management

Paul Logue, Athens City planner

Lori Burchett, Athens County planner

Annie Laurie Cadmus, director of Sustainability

Adam Riehl, interim executive director Facilities Program, Design and Construction