University expands toward Craig Street
Attendees of an open Town Hall discussed the fate of Craig Street on Wednesday.
Led by Vice President for Campus Affairs Michael Murphy, the Town Hall informed the audience and the Simonds Commission — which is the group of trustees, faculty, and senior administrators responsible for new projects and renovations to Carnegie Mellon properties — about the development plan for Craig Street. The Town Hall also served as a forum for community members to discuss their own opinions on the project.
Carnegie Mellon owns and leases several properties in the Craig Street area, including the recently acquired diocesan property near Central Catholic High School on Fifth Avenue.
The Institutional Master Plan for Carnegie Mellon outlines the future development of the campus and properties held by the university in the surrounding area. Murphy stressed the university’s desire to strike a balance between collegiate interests and those of the community: “We have to have the right mission, the right balance, [so Craig Street is] CMU-centric and a modern destination of choice.”
A possible roadblock in the project’s development is the zoning designation of Carnegie Mellon’s various properties. The campus falls under an Educational/Medical/Institutional (EMI) zone, which means that the university is at much greater liberty to do what they like with the property. Much of the property in the Craig Street area is part of a residential or business zone, which means that the university has to work with more restrictions.
Despite these possible constraints, Murphy was adamant that the university has no plans to fundamentally alter Craig Street. “We’re not talking about changing functionality, we’re not talking about throwing anyone out of their place,” he said.
Senior biomedical engineering and materials science and engineering double major Sohini Bianka Roy attended the meeting as a representative of the undergraduate Student Senate, and discussed the stake of students in this matter.
“The goal was essentially to have some kind of Tartan pride,” she said. “When you walk down to the University of Pittsburgh’s campus, you see that ‘Go Panthers,’ you see that pride, and we felt that Craig Street is kind of like our own little corridor street.” Murphy then opened the floor to the audience, asking “What is your vision for Craig Street?”
The audience had a wide variety of suggestions, such as having retailers selling Carnegie Mellon merchandise, having some Carnival events there, or having a visual connection to the school, such as painted thistles on sidewalks.
Murphy said that the current plan for representation of the university was to keep symbols “subtle yet iconic.”
Another popular idea was asking businesses to stay open an hour or two later some nights.
As one attendee pointed out, “[Craig Street is] a place where students could go, but then the hours would have to match their weeks.”
The idea of closing down traffic on Craig Street to create a place for students to congregate was also suggested. Director of the Remaking Cities Institute and member of the Simonds Commission Don Carter said that the Commission had investigated this possibility, but the museums on Craig Street needed the space to let their patrons exit on the weekends.
The audience consisted of mostly faculty, but all were clearly passionate about the project.
Assistant Vice President for Diversity and Equal Opportunity Services Everett Tademy said, “I’m invested in the project because Carnegie Mellon is invested in it.”
Director of Facilities Management Services and professor of civil and environmental engineering Don Coffelt was invested in the project as a faculty member and a resident of the Craig Street area.
He expressed enthusiasm about the project, saying, “I think the only complicating factor is it’s going to take time. Because it’s complex, and you don’t want to get it wrong.... It would be harder to fix if we got it wrong than it is to go slowly and make sure we get it right.”