University of Mary | Campus Master Plan

Bismarck, ND

The University of Mary, founded in 1955 by the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Priory, has strong religious, academic, cultural and architectural roots. Original campus buildings were designed by Marcel Breuer, one of the most celebrated architects of the 20th century and a student of the Bauhaus school in Germany. Breuer conceived expansive structures of native prairie stone and exquisite concrete shapes, notable for their interplay of light and shadow for the campus. As the campus grew and expanded over the years, the university took efforts to be good stewards of Breuer’s work, preserving his spirit of modernist prairie architecture.

Today, the University of Mary is flourishing with 3,400 students and is one of the most affordable private higher education institutions in the nation. It offers 48 undergraduate majors, eight master’s degrees, one doctoral degree, 17 NCAA Division II varsity sports, and many community and extracurricular activities as one of the most affordable private higher education institutions in the nation. In April 2011, the university initiated a Master Planning process with Celli-Flynn Brennan after we completed a successful Walkabout, which laid the groundwork for a comprehensive planning process. The goals of the Master Plan were to support the university’s growth, improve its reputation as an academic institution, reorganize campus assets to better support programs, and continue to provide a Catholic/value-centered education in a private institution setting in North Dakota.

The plan began with an analysis of existing architecture, wayfinding, space allocation, enrollment and housing, student life, landscape, parking, and infrastructure. CFB then worked closely with the university to develop a plan that addresses immediate and long-term needs, specifies design and maintenance standards, and develops phasing schedules and preliminary cost estimates for improvements. Specific recommendations are to create an identifiable entrance to campus, reorganize vehicular and pedestrian circulation, give front doors to the four academic schools, introduce more trees, reorganize facilities for recruitment, build a new campus center, increase student housing, improve space utilization, improve athletic facilities, renovate the science building, and reorganize space within the Benedictine Center for university use.

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