University of Florida Elevates Campus Gateways for Returning Students

VHB improvements put sustainability and safety first.

December 14, 2021

At the University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville, VHB is helping fast-track the completion of two significant new entry gateways to accommodate the campus community in spring 2022. With new features that elevate sustainability and pedestrian safety, The Northeast Newell Gateways will serve as an important first impression to the campus for visitors and students and help orient guests to parking and campus entry for both pedestrians and vehicular traffic.

VHB’s work springs from UF’s Landscape Master Plan completed by GAI, which identified 12 key projects where new safety, wayfinding, and stormwater upgrades could positively impact the pedestrian-friendly campus. The Northeast and Newell Gateways were prioritized, in part because of their locations as main entries into the campus and at an area where pedestrian safety has been a concern. An integrated team of VHB designers, and civil and transportation engineers are working with UF, the City of Gainesville, and the Florida Department of Transportation on the improvements. The gateway location also serves as a link to the Innovation District in Downtown Gainesville located across the street from the Court entry.

Enhancements include moving a Gate House on the NE Gateway to allow for pedestrian and vehicular-friendly drop-off, adding bicycle lanes, turn lanes, new hardscape with pavers, and a dedicated space for a future art installation.

A color rendering of a vehicular and pedestrian entry plaza on a college campus with trees lining the path. A color rendering of a new college campus entry plaza showing cars and pedestrians. Three people wearing construction hard harts and yellow vests walking over a construction site covered with sand.

“The Northeast Gateway will be a beautiful addition to the campus, but what’s happening underneath the plaza is as important as the changes above-ground,” said Jaime Igua, Project Manager – Land Development. “We are retrofitting two parking areas here with environmentally-friendly features for stormwater treatment via bio-retention swales that will be installed in the median islands. These will collect the stormwater runoff from the asphalt. The run-off will be treated within the swales before entering the stormwater system—an important aspect in an area that receives heavy vehicular traffic.”

The Northeast Gateway improvements will set the stage for the next UF campus landscape improvement project, Union Walk, which will become a beautiful, landscaped pedestrian-only promenade that connects Tigert Hall and Criser Hall parking lots. Improvements include modifying the parking layout to make it more efficient and upgrading the storm sewer system. The Newell Gateway improvements consist of closing the vehicular driveway at University Avenue and replacing it with a brick-paved plaza. Future Newell Drive South improvements include converting a road to a pedestrian promenade. The project is expected to be complete spring 2022. Learn more about how VHB is helping higher education facilities become more sustainable and resilient.