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Illustration of Proposed Quad Area
An illustration from the Middlebury Institute’s master plan shows an artist’s conception of the central quad area, in this rendering looking north from the McCone Building

The Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey has received long-awaited approval of a master plan for its downtown campus that will one day transform the campus core into an open and pedestrian-friendly green space.

The Monterey Planning Commission unanimously approved the plan on Dec. 8, clearing the way for the Institute to launch the first phase of the project, which will focus on creating a spine of attractive pathways with curb bump-outs and lighted crosswalks running from Van Buren Street at the west end of campus to Pacific Street on the east end. An open, green quad area would be created at the center of the existing campus by closing off the south end of Pierce Street from the Lara Soto Adobe to Jefferson Street.

The resulting campus core will create an inviting space where students and faculty can meet and interact among benches, pathways, and drought-resistant plantings.

“The idea behind the Master Plan is to give more of a sense of place on our campus,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Institute Jeff Dayton-Johnson. “We want to create a greener, more pedestrian-friendly campus where there are more opportunities for faculty and students to interact inside and outside of the classroom.”

Additional changes envisioned under the master plan, which is broken into two five-year phases plus a third long-range phase, include moving most parking areas from the center to the edges of campus and concentrating faculty offices and classrooms around the new, green campus core.

The plan envisions both the refurbishing of existing buildings and the construction of new buildings within the existing campus footprint to accommodate both current capacity and anticipated enrollment growth. The plan also ensures the continued preservation of historic buildings on campus, including the Lara Soto Adobe on Pierce Street and Capitular Hall at Franklin and Pacific.

For students, it was a welcome development. “We are a small community but we’re separated by a bunch of streets,” said International Education Management student Abbey Wallace, who noted that the changes envisioned in the Master Plan would make the Institute campus feel more like “a traditional college experience.”

The plan’s approval represents the culmination of three years’ work that began with the appointment of a Master Plan Committee that included student, faculty, and staff representatives. The committee worked with an outside consulting firm to develop a long-term vision for the campus. The process of refining the plan also included a series of reviews by internal stakeholders and governing boards, as well as outreach to neighborhood groups and Monterey city staff.

Approval of the master plan sets the stage for future growth on the Middlebury Institute’s downtown Monterey campus, while crafting a green oasis in the midst of an urban campus.

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Jason Warburg

Eva Gudbergsdottir