Campus Master Plan
The Masters School Campus Master Plan establishes a vision and framework plan for the historic 96-acre campus. New building, landscape and circulation projects will dramatically transform the school, bringing new opportunities for interdisciplinary activities, improved spaces for learning and increased engagement with wellness and environmental stewardship for students, faculty and staff alike.
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Master Plan Projects
A key goal of the Master Plan is to reconnect the Upper and Lower Campus. Historically, Estherwood Mansion (1890’s), and later Masters Hall (1920’s) were located at the center of campus, and all campus paths and activities were oriented around these two places. Over the last 90 years the campus has expanded, and today the Upper Campus is separated from the Middle School and Lower Campus by Cochran Avenue, a road often congested with cars and buses.
The Master Plan promotes visual and physical reconnection between the Upper and Lower Campus, creating a car-free corridor that extends from the Hill Houses to the Middle School. By shifting bus and Middle School drop-o north of its existing location, Cochran Avenue will become a pedestrian promenade.
A new, universally accessible path will connect the Upper and Lower Campus, and shaded, outdoor seating with improved lighting is recommended at the bus drop-o and in front of the Middle School.
Landscape is an integral part of tradition and daily life at the Masters School. Some of the most memorable and well-used spaces at Masters are outdoors; soccer games on West Field, frisbee in the Main Quad, graduation on the Senior Steps and Hudson River overlooks from the Hill Houses.
These informal outdoor activities are supported by six designated areas for programmed athletic events. These fields and courts are in varying condition, with a wide range of use schedules. The Master Plan proposes relocating the softball field closer to Greene Family Field, creating a cluster of athletic activities in the Lower Campus.
Masters also has 38 acres of contiguous forested land with untapped potential. The Master Plan improves the opportunities for faculty, staff and students to use these woodlands by providing upgraded trails and trail markings and by constructing low impact structures that can be used by multiple disciplines for outdoor education, including classes for the Arts, Sciences and Humanities. Improved, environmentally sensitive lighting in and around the trails, and educational signage describing important plant and animal habitats, will facilitate welcoming and safe use of the area.
A network of Wandering and Wondering paths will connect woodlands trails to the rest of the campus. This network will utilize existing campus paths, improve ADA (ramp) accessibility, increase landscaping along paths, provide opportunities for shaded seating areas at locations with key views, and locate opportunities for temporary or permanent displays of student artwork.
Together, these projects will inspire the campus community to engage with the outdoors, celebrating the site’s topography, woodlands and historic landscapes.
Strayer Hall is currently a two-story building housing the Music Department and athletic facilities. The first floor of the building is underutilized and the building structure is considered to have capacity to support a third floor.
Given Strayer Hall’s key location in the center of campus, the Master Plan recommends renovating the existing first and second floors for use by programs important to the mission and vision of the school. These programs include the Music Department complete with a music lab, music library, practice rooms and an ensemble room located on the first floor and the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center (IEC) located on the second floor, A new third floor will be added creating a modern, upgraded library with sweeping views of the campus landscape.
Constructed in 1921, Masters Hall continues to be the academic heart of the campus. Many spaces in this building are beloved by faculty and staff, including the gabled windows, bell tower, stained glass, hallway alcoves and other historic details. The Master Plan preserves the meaningful and historic character of
this building, while expanding the quantity and quality of learning spaces it contains. Significant changes and improvements will be made to three important spaces in Masters Hall: the Library, the Theater and the Art Studio.
The existing Pittsburgh Library will be transformed into new classrooms, relieving the over-crowding and over-scheduling of classrooms in other parts of Masters Hall.
The Theater house floor will be expanded to allow seating for all Upper School students and faculty
during morning meetings and school events, and the Theater lobby and entrance will be redesigned to reduce congestion. A new Theater entrance will create a more spacious lobby for visitors and students to use before and after events. Other Theater improvements include upgrading the sound and projection technology, fly space equipment and renovation of interior walls.
The Art Studio will be renovated with improved ventilation, ADA accessibility, new storage space and improved thermal performance.
Estherwood Mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is currently used as Faculty Housing and for school events. With significant investment, this building has potential for future, alternative uses through creative adaptive reuse. There are many great ideas for future development of Estherwood Mansion, including but not limited to:
- Leasing all or parts of the building to a private sector event management company and coordinating schedules between school sponsored and private events
- Non-student facing Administration offices
- Alumni club room and Alumni meeting spaces
- Art classrooms and studios or student performance space
- Possible location for a future Wellness Center, instead of, or supplementing, the Carriage House
New development in Estherwood would require building condition and renovation feasibility studies, and may include reconsideration of faculty and staff housing on the upper floors.
The Dining Hall is the center of life and activity on many campuses, connecting students of different ages and faculty from different departments, as well as boarding and day students.
The Cameron Mann Dining Hall will be adaptively reused to create a larger, more open building for recreation, dining and co-curricular activities. By prioritizing reuse of the existing building, both costs and environmental impacts of the new Campus Center will be reduced. A third floor will be added to the building with catered meeting rooms and a possible future Faculty Lounge. A new facade will allow daylight into all floors, improving views and connection with the outdoors.
The Campus Center will be connected through a tunnel to a new Service Building, the home of future campus operations, loading and storage. Outside, the design includes a newly landscaped, extended Quad with perennial flower beds, café seating, rotating art exhibits, and amphitheater steps for informal events and outdoor gathering. This re-imagined amphitheater and extended quad enables a direct connection between the student dorms and Masters Hall, while the new Campus Center provides sweeping views of the historic campus and the Hudson River Valley.
The sloping topography and mature trees on the Lower Campus make an ideal site for a Wellness Center. This center would be home to a wide range of indoor and outdoor uses which teach and promote physical and mental wellbeing. These uses may include, but are not limited to, a greenhouse and expanded campus community garden, aerobic studios, meditation rooms, office space and community meeting rooms for lectures or group discussions.
Originally built in 1894 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Carriage House could be an ideal home for this program. With direct connections to the Middle School and Estherwood Mansion, a Wellness Center located at the Carriage House would o er quiet and serene outdoor classroom space and a community entrance on Estherwood Avenue for evening and weekend community programs.
Additional classrooms and common spaces and a new outdoor play space
A new building that might be used as a future multi generational, multi-disciplinary campus arts center
An internal road connecting the Fonseca Center and the Faculty Apartments on the hill
Five overarching principles guided development of the Master Plan. These Principles were established through an iterative process between the Design Team and the Masters School leadership as a reflection of the input from the campus community, beginning with conversations in the Discovery Phase, and continuing through design of site and building projects during monthly Master Plan Committee meetings.
These Guiding Principles allowed the school to evaluate and define the projects recommended within the Campus Master Plan. They are also intended to guide future decisions about plan implementation and framework growth, as academic needs, student population, financial and climate conditions change over time.
- Design spaces that support mental and physical wellbeing
- Use the campus to promote physical activity
- Create spaces of both stimulation and serenity
- Preserve and enhance memorable landscapes
- Create opportunities for learning and fitness in the woodlands
- Provide new outdoor spaces for gathering and teaching
- Connect to the Hudson Valley environment
- Create a car-free campus core
- Ensure universal design and accessibility
- Rationalize vehicular circulation and parking
- Protect, restore and showcase historic buildings and spaces
- Give old spaces new life for new uses
- Design innovative new spaces for learning
- Conserve energy and increase use of renewables
- Reduce water consumption
- Rethink waste and expand recycling across campus