Q and A with Rob schwartz, Associate Vice President, Facilities Services
Rob Schwartz balances SU and community needs.
Shepherding a university's growth is a big task. Rob Schwartz, Seattle University's associate vice president for Facilities Services, is tuned to the importance of balancing needs of both the community and the university when considering campus development.
The university's growth plan provides guidance for the campus changes over the next 20 years, with support for community goals and specific guidelines related to land use, open space, density of development and design. By developing an agreed set of standards worked out in cooperation with the community, the campus will continue to offer a vibrant urban landscape. Schwartz, a third-generation Seattle native recently appointed by Mayor Mike McGinn to the Capitol Hill Housing Board, weighs in:
What are some of the key points of SU's growth plan?
We'll continue to create pedestrian-friendly spaces. Our campus has what we describe as porous boundaries. This means the campus is accessible, a refuge without hard, gated entries. We'll continue to stay within the city's street grid as we develop east of 12th. Another area of concern for the community is open space. Our growth plan allows us to look at campus goals for open space as a whole. Overall, we project a slight increase in the amount of open space around campus, currently around 57 percent. We expect to double our square footage from two to four million, yet our footprint is increasing by less than 5 percent. Future campus development encourages tighter boundaries in exchange for higher density.
You sound as though you have been through this before. What background do you bring to the campus planning process?
I have 25 years of facilities and project management experience serving as a designer, owners representative and contractor. I understand the public approval process as well as design and construction. Before coming to SU, I managed projects for M.A. Mortenson, including SU's Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons.
How have you responded to community interest in the university's growth plan?
We work closely with the Citizens Advisory Council (CAC), and the City of Seattle's Department of Neighborhoods (DON) and Planning and Development (DPD) to develop a growth plan that addresses university and community needs in a transparent and balanced way. We also seek involvement from Squire Park Community Council, the 12th Ave. Stewardship Committee and other groups. We know that 14th Avenue, for example, has been a sensitive area for the community so we've had numerous discussions, taken feedback and worked out a compromise. We modified our proposed setbacks and adjusted heights of what we plan to develop. It's a good example of the back-and-forth communication we have with the neighborhood.