THE CITY AS CAMPUS/CANVAS:
A CASE STUDY OF THE SAVANNAH COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN
AS A SCATTERED SITE COLLEGE CAMPUS
A PROJECT PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF
FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS IN URBAN AND REGIONAL PLANNING
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Many people have helped and encouraged me tremendously during the past two years,
and I would like to start off by thanking my parents, Marty and Jean Randall, for their support
and love. My sisters and brothers and their various spouses are next in my heart, and I thank
them for their love, and for letting me know that they would never stop razzing me if I didn't
manage to finish! My thanks especially goes to Mike and Norma for all they've done for me over
the last two years. My nieces and nephews are always with me, and I especially want to thank
Ben for deciding he wanted to follow in my footsteps and become a city planner (even though
I'm not sure he knows exactly what that means). This is a constant reminder to be the best
planner I can, because it's not just a job it's his future.
I am ever grateful to my thesis committee, and especially my Chair, Dr. Ruth Steiner, for
your patience with my many "one little" questions, and for your guidance through the research
process. The faculty of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning receive my thanks for
the education they have provided me, both through their courses, and through their stories.
Through their willingness to share their experiences, they've taught me much more than I ever
could have learned from books alone.
And finally, I would like to thank Lisa Braner, Chris Mettler, Jeni Morris, Marcy Akel
and Sandra Joseph for their encouragement, their advice, and the technical knowledge they
haven't hesitated to share with me. I couldn't have done it without them.
Abstract of Project Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial
Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Urban and Regional
THE CITY AS CAMPUS/CANVAS: A CASE STUDY OF THE SAVANNAH COLLEGE OF
ART AND DESIGN AS A SCATTERED SITE COLLEGE CAMPUS
Chairperson: Dr. Ruth Steiner
Major Department: Department of Urban and Regional Planning
The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) utilizes a scattered site campus design
that is highly unusual in the United States. SCAD's campus includes 45 residential,
administrative, classroom, library and studio buildings serving over 5,000 students. These
buildings, primarily renovated 19th century schools and industrial buildings, are located
throughout Savannah's two-square mile Landmark Historic District and Victorian Historic
District. Many claims are made regarding the scattered site campus form, and its effects on the
communities surrounding the buildings. These claims include increased neighborhood and
commercial revitalization through the adaptive reuse of so-called "white elephants"; less stress
on infrastructure and transportation systems; and increased safety for all residents of the city.
This paper uses the case study method to look at two areas where SCAD has located a
residential neighborhood and the city's primary downtown retail street in order to determine
the impact that SCAD has had on each.
Analysis of property value data in residential comparison neighborhoods shows a direct
impact on property values due to the location of SCAD in a neighborhood. Merchant interviews
conducted on Savannah's primary downtown shopping street show that SCAD's effects there
have been more indirect, and are currently unquantifiable. This paper discusses the implications
of higher education institutions with scattered site campuses on community revitalization efforts,
as well as the generalizability of this model to other environments and types of universities.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter 1: Introduction..................................... ............................ 1
Traditional University Campuses... ................ .................. ... .......... 2
The Savannah College of Art and Design............... .......... ......... ...... 4
Effects on the Savannah Community....... ....... ......... ... ................ 6
Chapter 2: Overview of Savannah........................................................ 10
H istory..... ........... ......... .... .. .. ..... .. ...................... 10
The Historic Preservation Movement........ ....... ............... ... ........... 14
Savannah as a Livable City...................... .. .. ... ... .......... ..... 16
Dem graphics ................. ........... ......... ............... .. 22
Economic Base........ ................................ ......... .......... 24
Politics and Planning Regulation........................... ............ 26
Chapter 3: The Savannah College of Art and Design............................... 28
Dem ographics......................... ................... 30
Campus Development ....... .................................... 31
Student Services ... ... ...... ...... ............ .. ....... ...... ...... .... .. 40
Chapter 4: Literature Review......................................................... 43
Traditional Campus Planning ..... .................. ...... ...... ........ 43
Issues in Campus Planning..... .......... ... ........................ 49
Coherence ................ .................. . ........... ........... 49
Transportation... ...... .... ........................ ........... 50
Building Types and Uses ......................... ... ....... ........ 51
Student Demographics ............. ............................. 53
Technological Im pacts....... .... ... ................................. 54
University-Community Relations ............ ...... ..................... ............ 55
Revitalization ............................ ... .. ... . ... .. ........... .. 58
Retail Composition.................... ... .............. .. ............. 59
Residential Revitalization ........................ ..... .. ... ...........6..... 60
Role of the A rts .................. ..... ............ ... ... ... ........................ 62
Role of Schools .................. ............. ...... ..... ... ........ .... 65
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design.................................. 66
Summary .................................... .......... ...... ....... .......... 68
Chapter 5: Methodology.................................................................... 70
Literature Review .................................................. ................ 70
Interview s ............................... ........... ..... ...... ...... ..... ........ 70
Case Studies............... ...... .................... ............ ..... 71
Broughton Street... ........ ................... ... ............................ 71
Wallin Hall ...................... ... ......................................... 72
Property Value Data....................... ........................................... 75
GIS Data Collection and Mapping ................................................. 76
Statistical A analysis .................... .................... ...... ........... ......... 77
Chapter 6: Results............................................... ....................... 78
Adaptive Reuse.................. ................................................. 78
Residential Revitalization ......................................................... 80
Commercial Revitalization....................................................... 83
Chapter 7: Discussion...................................................................... 86
Chapter 8: Conclusions........................................ ..................... 92
Recommendations for Further Research.................. ..... ........... 96
Works Referenced...................................................................... 98
Appendices......................... ...... .......................................... 103
Appendix 1.1: SCAD Campus Map.................................................... 103
Appendix 1.2: SCAD Holdings..................................................... 104
Appendix 2.1: Demographics Chatham County ............... ............. ...... 115
Appendix 2.2: Chatham County Economic Base Data ............. .............. 120
Appendix 5.1: Broughton Street Survey......................... ................ 124
Appendix 5.2: Broughton Street Use Maps .............. ...................... 132
Appendix 5.3: Residential Study Area Demographic Comparisons................ 137
Appendix 6.1: Residential Study Area Statistical Analysis ................. ....... ... 141
Appendix 6.2: Wallin Hall Study Area Map............................................ 144
Appendix 6.3: Cuyler-Brownsville Study Area Map ............................. 146
Savannah, Georgia. The name is meant to be drawled in the slow, soft cadence of coastal
Georgia, a breathy, sighing sound. To say it quickly does it an injustice, lacking the invocation
of moss-draped live oaks curving over brick and cobblestone streets, of squares filled with
monuments to the long-dead heroes of the South, and of gracious nineteenth century mansions of
stone and brick. It's a charming city, genteel and quirky, where the pace of life was, until twenty
years ago, calm and slow, characterized by a smooth surface and unseen, roiling undercurrents,
much like the river sliding by at the foot of the Bay Street bluffs.
The city was isolated from the great rushes of development after both World Wars I and
II, by both a cultural unwillingness to change, and a physical location well off the mainstream of
American transportation systems (Morrison, 1979). It was not until a century after General
Sherman's Christmas presentation of the city to President Lincoln at the end of the Civil War
that Savannah again came to the forefront of America's collective cultural consciousness. John
Berendt's bestselling book and the resulting movie, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,
brought both publicity and tourists to the city in hordes, and contributed greatly to the rebirth of
However, as well-known and as evident as the effects of Midnight (as it is commonly
known) may be, there is another, even more powerful institution at work on the city. The
Savannah College of Art and Design (commonly known as SCAD) has affected Savannah's
social, cultural, physical and economic environment to a degree that no one could have or would
have predicted twenty years ago.
In 1979, Richard and Paula Rowan, an Atlanta couple, settled on Savannah for the
location of a new tertiary institution for art and design education. They had long felt the lack of
such an institution in the Southeast, and felt that Savannah had the atmosphere and culture that
would attract students and allow such a school to flourish. They, their 7-member faculty and 70
students took over and renovated a building in the heart of Savannah, directly on the city's main
north-south commercial thoroughfare, and facing one of its famous squares. The former city
armory became the center, both literally and figuratively, of the college's campus, as the school
expanded to its current 45 buildings scattered over a two square-mile section of historic
The purpose of this work is first to attempt to empirically determine the effects that
SCAD has had on the city of Savannah's residential and commercial neighborhoods. We will
then discuss the ability of this model to be utilized for commercial revitalization purposes in
other cities and with other types of colleges and universities.
Traditional University Campuses Anglo-Saxon and European Models
The Rowans' conscious choice to create a scattered site campus flew in the face of
traditional American campus planning, which called for, and continues to call for, campuses on
the model of England's great college towns of Oxford and Cambridge, and of the enclosed
quadrangle forms characterizing their college buildings. (It must be noted that the administrative
composition of American universities is different from English universities, and that the
definitions of colleges and universities are different in the United States than in much of the rest
of the world. For the purposes of this paper, when discussing American institutions of higher
learning, the words "college" and "university" are used interchangeably. In addition,
"American" refers to the United States; other countries in North or South America will be
referred to by name.) American college campuses are exemplified by the land-grant institutions,
which tend to be pastoral, and characterized by separate buildings set among open greenswards
(Dober, 1992; Turner, 1984). Even among suburban and urban institutions, campus buildings are
generally oriented towards, and interact with, each other. Any physical relationship with the
town or city in which they are located tends to be incidental, and for the most part, there is a
conscious effort to isolate and close themselves off from the city. The university is traditionally
inwardly oriented, physically, socially and culturally. Even universities located in the center of
major metropolitan cities tend to be separated from their adjacent communities. In the words of
one scholar researching town and gown issues, "Universities reside in communities, but often
have distinct, antagonistic interests from those of their neighbors" (Mayfield, Hellwig and
Banks, 1999, p. 864). In addition, Daniel Coit Gilman, the founding president of Johns Hopkins
University in Bethesda, said that the entire purpose of the university was to insulate scholars
from the turmoil of the city (Bender, 1998, p. 17).
The first American colonial colleges, starting with Harvard, followed from the Anglo-
Saxon tradition of isolation of students, which will be discussed further in Chapter 4. They
located in suburban or rural areas, walling themselves, either literally or figuratively, off from
their surrounds. In the four centuries since, campus planning has followed much the same route.
Of course, there are exceptions truly open urban campuses such as New York University or the
new downtown campus of the University of Texas at San Antonio that are physically and
socially involved in their respective cities. And there has been a recent movement for other
universities to become involved in their communities through service learning and outreach
programs, and through physical revitalization programs as well. However, these are relatively
recent developments, and born of a necessity to make the neighborhoods adjacent to the
university safe and attractive they are not, for the most part, an integral part of the universities'
In contrast, the founders of the Savannah College of Art and Design chose a route rooted
more in the continental European tradition of campus planning, where the university is less a
separate entity from the community than a part of it. Europe's oldest universities were founded
in the hearts of her major cities, as in the example of Paris's Sorbonne, and continued to locate
there throughout their subsequent growing periods. As a result, their buildings tend to be
scattered throughout regions of the city, divided by departments, and students commonly travel
from one neighborhood to the next to take courses. Additionally, most students live either at
home with their parents or in apartments shared with other students, not in the dormitory
arrangements more common in the United States and Britain. New university campuses in
Europe are often modeled on these ancestral universities. Occasionally, as in the example of
Belgium's Louvain-le-Neuve, the need for a new university means the development of a new
town, incorporating not only the university, but also residences, businesses and industries for
residents not affiliated with the school.
The Savannah College of Art and Design
The Savannah College of Art and Design occasionally attempts to make a connection
with the British tradition of campus planning by comparing their growth around a Savannah
square with Oxfordian quadrangle models. However, SCAD's campus and the ways in which
students live and interact should be more closely compared to the European model, rather than
the British or American models. The growth of the campus has been organic, with the school
taking over empty institutional, commercial, industrial and retail buildings in the city's
Landmark and Victorian Historic Districts as the need for space and their financial constraints
allowed them to. Examples of their expansion policies can be seen in Appendices 1.1, a campus
map, and 1.2, an inventory of SCAD's buildings. The school has reused abandoned train sheds
and warehouses as design laboratories, motels as dormitories, and elementary schools as
classroom and studio spaces. With a few exceptions, notably the industrial buildings traditionally
known as the Neil-Blund complex, which SCAD calls the Mid-Town campus, and which they
hope to have operational as a computer art complex by 2002, the buildings are all located within
a two square-mile block of downtown Savannah. This proximity, and the lack of parking spaces
in the city, makes it easier to move about by foot, bicycle or bus than by car, and encourages
most of the students and faculty to live in the downtown area.
For their first decade, the growth of SCAD's campus was fairly easy, as the school was
relatively small and the city had a large stock of empty buildings. Even though they expanded
from 71 students in 1979 to 2,400 in 1994, most of this growth took place in the early 1990s.
Throughout the 1980s, the school was able to take over buildings at their leisure, and to provide
students with the opportunity to participate in their renovation as a type of "living lab/studio".
The school's growth and its affects will be discussed in greater detail in Chapter 3; suffice it to
say, however, that SCAD has experienced meteoric growth in their second decade, expanding
from 1994's population of 2,400 students to over 4,500 in 2000 almost doubling in only 6
years. The school is under tremendous pressure to renovate buildings and to get them into use.
SCAD's facilities manager states that their fiscal year begins in August, and that is when many
of their real estate purchases are made. Design Works, Inc., SCAD's in-house design and
construction company, is often expected to then have the buildings ready for use by the time the
school year starts in September. This means that students are no longer able to participate in
most renovations and that part of the "living studio" experience has been lost.
Effects on the Savannah Community
An additional effect of the school's rapid growth is that real estate prices for the city's
"white elephants" (which are SCAD's specialty) have risen dramatically, primarily because the
sellers realize that the school provides a demand for them, where there once was none.
Correspondingly, the school's population growth has led to a greater demand for housing from
both students and faculty. Because the buildings are scattered throughout the city, and not
centralized, students and faculty also live throughout the city, choosing to locate close to the
buildings where they have most of their classes. Not only are they renting many of the
affordable apartment units in these neighborhoods, but they also purchase houses and
commercial buildings that can be converted to loft and studio spaces. This affects not only the
school and its population, but the rest of the community, as well for revitalization and
gentrification often go hand in hand.
The direct effects on Savannah's real estate market are only one part of the story,
however, and perhaps the most tangible part. The other part is that the presence of SCAD and its
students in the downtown area have created what author Roberta Brandes Gratz (1989) refers to
as "a living city". Proponents of the school claim that the students have created a safer city,
through their presence on the streets at all hours of the day and night, along with the school's
own Campus Safety Patrol, which acts as a secondary police force. Claims have also been made
that SCAD has increased the cultural and social life of the city, through numerous art
performances and exhibitions open to all residents and visitors. The art and culture opportunities
now available in Savannah draw a new type of "foot-loose" migrant wealthy retirees, childless
professionals, and entrepreneurs seeking a place to start a business, buy a winter home, or
telecommute to their offices in the north.
Students and faculty patronize restaurants and shops close to their buildings and
residences, often located in marginal areas, and pump much-needed dollars into neighborhood
economies. And many students have stayed in the area after graduation, opening businesses of
their own in the downtown area. And although all of these may occur with the development of a
traditional college campus, in Savannah, it may be theorized that the growth of a scattered site
campus has had less of an impact on the city's infrastructure. Because of the location of the
buildings, housing and transportation problems have been dispersed around the city, rather than
clustered in one neighborhood. With adaptive reuse of older buildings, the school taps into
existing sewer, potable water, and transportation infrastructure, rather than requiring additional
Finally, the school's growth has fueled the growth of Savannah's new economic force -
tourism. Quite simply, because of SCAD, there are few parts of the downtown that are perceived
as not safe or attractive, allowing visitors to feel comfortable wherever they go. And the school's
influence on the art, music and theater scene has attracted wealthy art patrons from around the
world, including some who choose to buy and renovate second homes in the historic districts. In
addition, the Economic Development Authority states that there have been corporations that have
chosen to locate in or to be involved in Savannah because of the presence of the school and the
diversity and vibrancy it brings to the city.
There is no doubt that the merger of SCAD and Savannah has worked to bring about the
city's rejuvenation, even with some negative gentrification issues and growing pains.
It remains to be seen whether "city campuses", or scattered-site campuses reusing older
buildings, can be successful in other cities to bring about the same type of revitalization that has
occurred in Savannah. There are aspects of both SCAD and Savannah that are unique, and which
allow the merger to work with minimal governmental assistance. These will be explored in
Chapters 2 and 3.
In Chapter 4 of this work, the literature regarding several aspects of scattered site
campuses, including relationships of universities with their communities, the principles of Crime
Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), and the factors of successful revitalization,
will be reviewed. The claims made about SCAD's effect on the Savannah area will be explored
in greater detail in Chapters 6 and 7, and in Chapter 8, we will synthesize the benefits of
scattered site campuses, along with those elements necessary for one to succeed.
The results of this study will provide proof that SCAD does have pronounced effects on
residential neighborhoods, although the effects on commercial strips are less obvious. Review of
the literature of revitalization and of the anecdotal and statistical evidence of the presence of
SCAD and its students, and the power it has to draw additional residents and visitors who are not
affiliated with the school, will show that, in Savannah at least, the scattered site campus approach
is working to the benefit of all. It is important not to lose sight of the fact, however, that this
study looks at neighborhood revitalization in a time of extreme economic prosperity. There has
been renewed interest in downtown on the part of those with money and power all over the
country, not just in Savannah, during the 1990s. While SCAD is unique, similar revitalization
work based on commercial strip rejuvenation, heritage tourism, an arts focus, and historic
preservation efforts is occurring, and is successful, in many American communities. Some of
what is being attributed to SCAD's presence may simply be a function of a market cycle, which
is returning investment to the inner cities.
It remains to be seen whether the scattered-site, adaptive-reuse model would be viable in
a different environment, and a less-ebullient economic climate. This work suggests that it could
and would be successful in a variety of urban areas, and housing a variety of educational
institutions, including branches of major universities, part-time undergraduate and graduate
programs, and specialty colleges. The most likely duplication of SCAD's model in the near
future will be SCAD itself deciding to branch out into another city, a very possible scenario.
However, the results of this paper show the possibilities for scattered site campus buildings to
contribute to neighborhood revitalization. Combined with the growing concern about suburban
sprawl in this nation and an increasing trend towards preservation of historic and cultural
amenities, it is very possible that educational facilities planners, as well as city officials and
planners concerned about the well-being of their community, will pick up the idea of the
scattered site campus and apply it to a new campus sometime in the very near future.
Overview of Savannah
Savannah is a fascinating place to outsiders, one that they can admire and study, but may
never truly understand. Founded in 1733 by a consortium of English noblemen, Georgia was an
experimental colony, where those of England's poor who were willing to emigrate, work hard,
and uphold democratic ideals were given a chance to better themselves and their families. It was
a very paternal concept, led by General James Oglethorpe, known to many of the colonists as
"Father", although better known today as the planner of Savannah's famous grid of boulevards
and squares. For the colony's capital, Oglethorpe chose a spot on the south side of the Savannah
River, about 10 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, where the river makes a half-moon, and the river
bank is a high bluff, with flat, level ground stretching for several miles. Each freeholder was
granted fifty acres of land, which included a 60 by 90-foot lot within the city walls for a house.
The city was divided into four wards, each of which included a square for recreation and defense,
and four large "trustees' lots" for public buildings (Morrison, 1979). Figure 2.1 is a copy of the
city plan from 1769 showing clearly the division of land into streets, squares, and residential and
Originally, Savannah was to first become self-sufficient in matters of food, shelter and
clothing, and then to produce an export good in the form of silk to compete with the China trade.
In the spirit of reformation, and perhaps to keep the colonists from slacking off on their duties,
the founders outlawed slave ownership.
However, as with many utopian schemes, Georgia as an experiment soon foundered on
the rocks of individualism, lack of preparation, and a general failure to meet the overly high
expectations of either the colonists or the founders. Labor was expensive, few of the colonists
had experience in agriculture, and the silkweavers brought over to start the silk trade proved to
be recalcitrant. Cotton, rice, indigo and lumber were Savannah's mainstay during the 18h
century. Producing these products, especially cotton, in any great amount in those days required
large amounts of cheap labor, however, and with the competition working slaves in the fields,
Georgians could not compete with hired or indentured labor only. So, when Oglethorpe, the last
obstacle, returned permanently to England in 1743, Georgia turned to slavery. When Eli
Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793, at a plantation very close to Savannah, the cotton
industry in the U.S. boomed. The city, as the trading port for much of Georgia, became one of
the most important centers for the nation's cotton trade, a role that sustained it for over 80 years
(Morrison, 1979; O'Toole, 1992).
Until the Civil War, Savannah's role as the cotton trading and exporting center of the
Southern United States meant a booming economy. The results of that 100 year long influx of
capital can be seen today in the magnificent mansions of the Historic District, the modern
designation for the pre-1850s city. The common lands to the south of the historic city were
owned by the government, and as the city grew, governing officials ensured that Oglethorpe's
plan of squares and wards was carried out faithfully. By 1860, all of these common lands were
consumed by a mixture of commercial, institutional and residential lots (Morrison, 1979).
Figures 2.1-2.4: Savannah's Growth Patterns
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Savannah was spared the plight of many of the other southern cities that had to rebuild
after they were burned by General Sherman's "march to the sea" at the end of the Civil War.
However, it was not spared the economic ravages of the war and the loss of the livelihoods of
many of its residents. The end of the war and the resulting emancipation of the slaves also meant
that large numbers of unskilled and semi-skilled blacks migrated to the city in search of
opportunity. The newcomers, along with Savannah's native freed slaves, lived on the outskirts
of the historic district, in such new black towns as Beach Institute and Cuyler-Brownsville.
Some, like Beach Institute, were barely a block from the homes of wealthy whites, while others,
like Cuyler-Brownsville, were located in industrial areas along the railroad tracks. Both were
characterized by wooden-framed houses on small, often irregular lots, interspersed occasionally
with the larger, more ornate homes of professional, middle-class blacks, including the doctors,
lawyers and shopkeepers who served the black community.
For a century after the Civil War ended, Savannah and its surrounding areas suffered
S- 4 much the same fate as many other cities in the
south. Out of the way of general commerce,
but with an asset in the form of its port
facilities, the city survived but did not truly
prosper. Residents lived on old money, import
and export business (including oil refineries),
government subsidies in the form of military
Savannah in the early 1930s or at least Robert
Redford's version of it. The filming of The Legend o facilities, and the natural resources of the
surrounding areas, including kaolin clay mines and pine plantations. There was enough growth
that the city kept expanding around its historic core, first with the development of the Victorian
District, a strip of wooden houses in typically ornate Victorian styles, many of which were built
as multi-family structures, with anywhere from two to six units, intended for working families.
Later developments were outside of the original boundaries of the common lands, and were
subdivided from private plantations, so Oglethorpe's plan of squares and boulevards was not
followed, although city officials did mandate a straight grid pattern of streets for many years. A
third ring of mixed housing grew up around that in the early part of the 20t century, with a
mixture of middle class and upper middle class houses, mostly occupied by whites fleeing the
historic city. The white flight continued in the years immediately preceding and following
World War II, when large neighborhoods of bungalows were built on the southern side of the
city. As was the case in so many of America's cities during this time, this movement left the
center to low-income blacks and large businesses. Eventually the city stepped in to begin urban
renewal of the historic area, and this is where Savannah's story begins to differ from many
The Historic Preservation Movement
In 1955, the Federal-style Isaiah Davenport House was scheduled for demolition. Fed up
with the wholesale destruction of historic buildings, seven wealthy Savannah women the "little
old ladies with blue hair and tennis shoes" of legend formed the Historic Savannah Foundation
(HSF). HSF managed to cobble together enough private funds to buy the Davenport House and
restore it as their own headquarters. They then proceeded to embark on a unique and highly
successful program of saving old buildings. It began with an authoritative survey of Savannah's
approximately 2,000 historic buildings north of Gaston Street. HSF then established a revolving
fund that allowed them to purchase threatened buildings and resell them to sympathetic restorers,
shackling the new owners with deed restrictions allowing only rapid restoration of the buildings,
and preventing speculation. In the past forty years, since HSF began their work, almost all of the
buildings in the heart of the city have been restored, and are now occupied, many by descendants
of the same families that fled in the earliest part of the century. Savannah now has one of the
country's largest historic districts, which encompasses the entire heart of the city all 2,000 of
the surveyed buildings.
The preservation movement has been largely responsible for an economic rebirth for the
city and the region, as well. The first new industry to arise was the renovation and rehabilitation
of old buildings, which created a corps of skilled contractors and tradesmen in the area. The
renovation industry has also attracted an unusual number of artisans, architects, designers and
associated professionals. This was a factor in the Rowans' choice to locate SCAD in Savannah,
since it meant not only a skilled workforce for their renovation efforts, but also that such a
culture of artistry would make it easier to attract students and faculty.
The second industry to grow primarily from the preservation movement is the booming
tourism industry. Prior to the 1960s, Savannah was fairly off the beaten track. Although it is
only 20 minutes from 1-95, there was little to draw travelers into the center city. However, as the
old buildings were renovated, and as the city became known for its beauty, authenticity and
charm, a strong heritage tourism industry grew up. Tourism was also given a boost by the 1994
John Berendt novel, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and by the movie of the same
name. In 1996, the Savannah Convention and
Visitor's Bureau estimated the annual number of
- visitors to the city at over 5.3 million and visitor-
generated jobs at 20,532, with a total visitor-
generated payroll of $388 million. The new
The new convention center, as seen from River Georgia International Maritime Trade and
Street. Photo by author.
Convention Center, and adjacent Westin Hotel and
Resort, on Hutchison Island, directly across from Savannah's riverfront, seek to increase this
tourism-related economy with one of the largest convention centers on the southeastern coast.
Savannah as a Livable City
Savannah has many of the characteristics of what urbanists are now calling "livable
cities". Transportation in the downtown part of the city is not
focused on cars (although the modern rings of development tend
to be much more auto-oriented), and alternative forms of
transportation are commonly used. There are usually people on
the streets in downtown for much of the evening and early
Morning, making it an uncommonly safe area to walk, exercise
Sor travel in. The city is very clean and well-kept, with a regular
schedule of street cleaning and maintenance making it seem very
SCAD student Jen Privett walks
down a typical Savannah street
on her way home from class.
Photo by author.
tidy. And, although center city residences are becoming more and more expensive, the
population living downtown is still characterized by a mix of income, age and education levels.
The greenery and open spaces, in the forms of Oglethorpe's squares and of the Victorian
District's Forsyth Park, make it seem less congested and more shaded than it may have been
otherwise. It is a mark of prestige in Savannah to live on, or very close to, one of the squares.
The city's schools also have a good reputation, and there are five institutions of higher learning
in or near the city, including historically black Savannah State, Armstrong Atlantic State, and
SCAD. The economic boom of the past decade means that the city's economy is healthy and
fairly varied, with the port, tourism and the military base all playing large roles.
However, the city's very livability and financial success have fueled growth, which never
comes without a price. There are three policy areas in particular that the city has sought to
address in the past decade. The first is a lack of safe, affordable housing; the second a deficit of
large parcels of land for redevelopment; and the third is a shortage of parking space downtown
and the resultant transportation issues. The demand for historic buildings for primary residences
for Savannahians and second homes for visitors, as offices, bed-and-breakfasts and restaurants
and shops means that real estate prices have skyrocketed. There are few unrestored buildings in
the historic district, and those that remain generally sell for over $300,000. It is not uncommon
for fully restored homes in the historic district to sell for over a million dollars, or for restored
properties in the Victorian District to be priced at several hundred thousand dollars. While there
are unrestored houses in the Victorian District available for $50,000-70,000, these tend to need a
great deal of work. The historic preservation guidelines under which they must be renovated add
to the costs, frequently pricing them outside the reach of lower-income residents. Students at
SCAD, Savannah State and Armstrong -Atlantic tend to absorb many of the affordable rental
units in the less-dangerous neighborhoods closer to the city. SCAD students and their parents
have also begun purchasing houses in these areas and renovating them. This has left low-income
minorities with the option either to move towards the outskirts of the city, where there is less
availability of public services and less access to jobs, or to live in more dilapidated housing
closer in. These factors have also drastically reduced the ability of low-income residents to
purchase or maintain their own home.
Today, there are primarily four organizations working towards affordable housing
provision in Savannah: Habitat for Humanity, Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS),
Community Housing Services Agency (CHSA), and the city housing division. In addition, the
Savannah Housing Authority and the Chatham County Housing Authority provide public rental
housing. Each of these agencies has a niche within the affordable housing market. Habitat for
Humanity concentrates on single-family homeownership outside of the historic districts for very-
low-income residents. NHS also concentrates on single-family homeownership, but has been
inactive for a period of time now. The city housing division provides a number of services, but
largely focuses on rehabilitation for homeowners and rental units.
CHSA is a subsidiary of the city housing division, which provides rehabilitation
assistance and financing to developers with rental properties in the city's several historic
districts, including the Victorian District and the Cuyler-Brownsville historic district. CHSA is
probably the most active of these development programs, and is responsible for the majority of
new units in the downtown area. However, several of the developers involved with this program
have indicated that there are no guidelines on what type of residents they must seek out, except
that they must be below a certain percentage of the region's median income. This means that
they are free to target student residents, and they prefer to do so.
The second issue that Savannah's revitalization has brought to the forefront is that of a
shortfall of land for redevelopment in the downtown area. The preservation guidelines for
downtown make it fairly difficult to redevelop property in this area, and while aggregation of lots
is acceptable (although difficult), new building footprints are very carefully controlled to fit into
the historic 60 foot massing of the city blocks. The city's Historic District guidelines firmly state:
With the exception of a very few number of tall buildings and a very few
number of short buildings (except in the Beach Institute area), Savannah is a
city of two to four story structures. The insertion of taller buildings into this
broad, regularized, and internationally recognized framework is an act of great
significance and one that should be both minimized and predictable. There
should be a plan either for their inclusion in appropriate settings or for their
exclusion. They should not 'pop-up' here or there, whatever the social or
economic rationale for their existence (e.g., elderly housing or hospitals or
economic development). Most of these uses can be accommodated in lower
rise high density schemes. Those that cannot should exist either on the fringes
on the Historic District or in specified locations. (p. 44)
While this control helps keep the scale and historic feel of the Landmark District, it also means
that the city's ability to lure new corporations or to encourage expansion of existing businesses
in the downtown is compromised. According to one source, there is one lot left in the Historic
District that will allow high-rise redevelopment, and most real estate specialists in downtown
properties speculate that the property will eventually be developed into a hotel complex, rather
than a new office building (Sundrla, 3/2000).
In addition, SCAD's successful expansion means that there are few large buildings left in
the Landmark Historic District that may be used for commercial purposes, affecting the city's
ability to attract new retail stores to this area. Broughton Street is one of the best examples, as
the department stores that used to serve the low-income minority residents who came there by
bus to shop and work, are slowly being pushed out. The City Market complex, an upscale
entertainment and shopping center on the western end of the street, has grown and expanded in
the last two years, according to plan. Meanwhile, SCAD is taking over the eastern end of the
street, with four major new buildings, including the Jen Library, Trustees Theater, and Norris
Hall. For several decades, as Broughton Street has declined, the retail composition of the street
has been comprised largely of businesses marketing to low-income, primarily minority,
consumers. These include low-end clothing stores, short-term lenders and pawn shops, and stores
selling Afro-centric gifts and art. According to Lise Sundrla of the Savannah Downtown and
Renewal Authority (SDRA), landlords along Broughton Street are no longer renewing long-term
leases for these businesses, and have begun charging higher rents in the hopes that they will
leave. As Banana Republic and the GAP open on Broughton Street in the next few months, the
expectation is that more national chain stores, like Tower Records, will soon be coming to
Savannah, and that they will want to locate near the others.
To address this, SDRA has been charged with the redevelopment of a strip of currently
marginal properties along the western edge of the city, between Montgomery Street and Martin
Luther King Jr. Blvd. This is a historically railroad-oriented industrial and residential
neighborhood, which includes the traditionally black town of Cuyler-Brownsville. SDRA hopes
to move many of the displaced businesses from Broughton Street to this strip, as well as to
encourage some of the commercial and retail businesses unable to find large-enough parcels of
property downtown to locate in this area. The problem, according to both Lise Sundrla of SDRA
and Kate Firebaugh of SCAD, is that the two entities do not coordinate with each other. SCAD
already occupies several buildings along this corridor, and has targeted it for further expansion.
The schools' Neal Blun, or Mid-town Campus, complex is located at the southern end of the
Montgomery Street-MLK Blvd. strip, and their main design studios, and residential complex are
at the northern end, making the remaining inexpensive, but historic buildings along MLK a
natural focus for SCAD's growth.
The third challenge facing downtown Savannah is that of parking and transportation.
According to the city's parking study, they are currently facing a 1,936 space deficit and expect a
2,685 space deficit by 2005 (Brown, 1999). The city's Historic District Guidelines state that:
Land values in Savannah's downtown commercial areas have passed the
threshold value whereby it is less expensive to acquire land, clear it, and
provide surface parking than to build structured parking. Thus an increase in
commercial activity will result in an increase in the demand for parking
garages. This is not to say that developers with underutilized structures in a
weak market won't continue to seek tax and operating cost benefits through
demolition of existing structures and conversion to surface parking or that the
expansion of institutional or commercial uses in or adjacent to residential
neighborhoods won't exert pressure for assemblage and surface parking in
those neighborhoods. They will. (p. 91)
The city is planning to restore one of the historic squares on which they built a parking garage
during the heyday of urban renewal, a move that will assist in restoring the Oglethorpe plan's
Source: Chatham Area Transit Agency eight loop around the central business district, also
reaching the nearest large grocery store, located a few blocks south in the Victorian District.
Riders can get on and off as much as they like for free, attracting a ridership of tourists, students,
and downtown workers and residents. Development and transit officials have also discussed
building parking garages further out of town and running park-and-ride service into the historic
district, although there has been no action taken on this at this time.
(of any race)
* Other race
O Asian or Pacific
O American Indian,
Eskimo, or Aleut
Source: 1990 U.S. Census. See Appendix 2.1 for details
According to the U.S.
census, in 1990 the total population
of the Savannah Metropolitan
Statistical Area was 242,622, of
which 63% were white, 35% black,
integrity, but will add a 500-space deficit to their
parking problem. To address this, there has been a
move towards alternative transportation, including
encouraging pedestrianism, bicycle use, and public
transportation. The Chatham Area Transit Agency,
in addition to running traditional bus service, also
runs the CAT Shuttle, a minibus that makes a figure-
and 2% Asian and Hispanic. This represents a greater minority population than the United States
as a whole in this period, with a black population proportionately almost 3 times that of the
nation. In addition, the proportion of the population of other races, including Asians and
Hispanics, is significantly lower than in the United States.
As in many Southern cities, Savannah's people also tend to be less educated than in the
Education Chatham County a Less than 9th grade nation generally, with 4%
n 9th to 12th grade, no diploma
12% 6% 9% n High school graduate fewer college graduates. It is
5%, 18% Some college, no degree
g* Associate degree significant that 14.5% of
Graduate or professional degree
Source: 1990 U.S. Census. See Appendix 2.1 for details Chatham County's students are
in private schools, compared to 9.8% nationally, indicating a lack of confidence in the county's
school system among those who can afford to place their children in private schools.
Median incomes were lower than the nation, while the poverty rate was higher. The
median household income for Chatham County in 1989 was $26,958, while median household
income for the United States was $30,056. Per capital income for Chatham County was $12,759,
while in the U.S. it was $14,420. Almost 17% of Chatham County's population lived in poverty
in 1990, as compared to slightly over 13% for the U.S.
B Less than $5,000
Poverty Levels Household Incomes 5.000 to $9,999
'- -".'. 0 10,000 to $14,999
0 0 3% 2%1% 9% 0 $15,000 to $24,999
15 00 13% 10% $25,000 to $34,999
1o 0005bk *I1Chatham 91 B "
500 US. 18% 50000 o $74,999
0 001 0 $75,000 to $99,999
Total in 18 and 65 and 16% $100000 to $149
poverty over over I $150,000 or more
Source: 1990 U.S. Census. See Appendix 2.1 for details
However, on the plus side, Savannah's population is young in 1990, 70% of the
population was 44 years old or younger, with 27% of the total under 18. Only 12% were 65 or
Additional demographic data on the Savannah Metropolitan Statistical Area, including
Labor Force Status, Poverty Status, Race and Sex can be found in Appendix 2.1 under the
heading "General Demographics: Chatham County, Georgia".
According to an analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau's "County Business Patterns" reports
for 1992 and 1997, the economy of Chatham County relies on several export industries (the data
supporting the following conclusions are outlined in Appendix 2.2). The first is the city's port
activities. This category includes trucking and warehousing and water transportation, as well as
a large portion of the heavy construction and transportation services industries. Associated
activities such as petroleum refining, electric, gas and sanitary services, and chemical processing
also indicate point-of-transfer industries associated with the port, as may the presence of Union
Camp's paper processing facility.
The second largest export economy is associated with the construction and renovation
industries, including the presence of larger percentages than nationally of general contractors,
special trade contractors, real estate agents, building materials suppliers and home-furnishings
stores. However, these figures are misleading, as most of this activity is actually associated with
the strong preservation movement, natural community growth during a boom economy, and the
tourist industry. With the exception of that portion associated with incoming retirees and the
wealthy, and the tourist industry, very little of this construction activity is true export activity.
The third major export industry is the tourist industry itself. Economists define tourism
as an export industry because it brings money into the community. Savannah shows activity in
hotels and other lodging, eating and drinking places, general merchandise stores, apparel stores,
amusement and recreation, and museums (reflecting the history-focused nature of the tourist
industry). A portion of this activity may also be associated with the presence of the over 4,000
employees of Hunter Air Force Base. Another may be associated with Savannah's position as
the major service and luxury goods provider for a large hinterland, consisting of much of
southeastern Georgia and coastal South Carolina, including the wealthy resorts of Hilton Head
and Jekyll Island.
The changes in the basic ratios of Chatham County's export economy show signs of
slowdowns in the primary industries. Heavy construction and real estate have both dropped off
markedly, and there has been a decrease in special trades contractors, indicating a slowing of the
renovation/construction economy. Several of the region's largest manufacturers have decreased
the number of employees on their payrolls, including the stone, clay and glass and paper
industries. There has been a decrease in employment in water transportation, trucking and
warehousing services, and communications, indicating either increased automation in the port
facilities or a slowing of the shipping sector of the region's economy. The tourist industry
continues to grow faster than the national average, as indicated by growth rates of 4% and 11%
in the basic employment of hotels and eating establishments. Several of the area's growth
industries, including transportation equipment, chemicals and petroleum, and electric and gas,
are in areas of national reduction in employment.
It seems that the face of Savannah's economy is changing, and in much the same way as
the United States on the whole. Higher paying manufacturing and shipping jobs are giving way
to lower-paying jobs in the service sector, with grave implications for real wages, education
levels, and the demand for government services. While the economy is currently healthy,
problems can be anticipated in the future, especially if there is a nationwide economic downturn.
Politics and Planning Regulation
Politically, Savannah seems to be at a turning point. Until recently, the city was
controlled by what several interviewees referred to as "Old Savannah", the wealthy Anglo elite
descended from the city's antebellum population. This segment has been characterized, both in
the media and by residents interviewed for this thesis, as anti-growth and responsible in great
part for the stagnation of the city during the first three-quarters of the 20th century. Today,
however, Savannah has a liberal African-American mayor, and as of November 1999, an
African-American majority sits on the City Council. This represents a tremendous shift, both
politically and culturally, for the city, and for their relationship with SCAD. The new
administration seems to be less regressive, and is also willing to direct more city funding and
resources towards the city's marginal areas, such as the far eastern and western edges of the city,
traditionally the most industrial and poorest regions.
The focus of former political administrations was on the center portion of the city, from
the Landmark District southward to the wealthy suburbs. That focus, along with "old
Savannah's" reticence towards changing the status quo of the culture and economy of the city,
resulted in the strict preservation guidelines for the Landmark District (Stiles, 1999; Adler, 1999;
Reiter, 1999). While guaranteeing quality renovations, these guidelines often make it difficult for
would-be building rehabilitators without sufficiently deep pockets to undertake a project, and can
easily work to maintain the status quo in downtown Savannah.
The Savannah College of Art and Design
Richard and Paula Rowan founded The Savannah College of Art and Design in the quaint
city of Savannah in 1979, much to the initial dismay of its long-time residents. They began with
one building, Poetter Hall, the former city armory building on Madison Square, in the heart of
the Landmark Historic District. They renovated it themselves, with assistance from their faculty,
70 initial students, and the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). From all
accounts, the AIA was the only semi-official or official body to support their endeavor. Old
Savannahians were wary of a new institution in their midst, especially one that specialized in art
students, whom they saw as a breed apart. One Savannah native put it this way: "When they first
came in, twenty years ago, people were kind of afraid of them, with the different colored hair and
tattoos and everything." This same source, however, also points out the turnabout in residents'
attitudes over the past two decades: "But they're great students and they work hard, and they've
done wonders for the city" (Hutton, 4/28/00). Lee Adler, the leader of Savannah's historic
preservation movement over the past thirty years, and a prominent national figure in the
preservation community, has gone so far as to say, "I would hate to think what downtown
Savannah would be without SCAD" (as quoted by Applebome, 8/23/92).
The Rowans were both educators in Atlanta when they decided to start a college. Neither
has any career experience in art or art education Paula Rowan was a teacher, and Richard was
an administrator with the Georgia Department of Education when they decided to pack up and
move to Savannah. According to articles in the school's own newspaper, the Georgia Guardian,
they had looked at several other types of colleges before deciding that the southeast's lack of a
major art school, and the environment and building stock of Savannah would mesh together
perfectly into an art school. Although some may not see this lack of art education background as
an issue, it has played a part in SCAD's sometimes-turbulent history, as the Rowan's critics
claim that the educational purposes of the college have been subverted in favor of the business
aspects (Applebome, 8/23/92). The college's co-founders are also relatives of the Rowans -
Paula Rowan's mother and father, the Poetters, have been members of the administration, as are
her sister and brother-in-law, the Afifis.
Today, the administrative status of the school is somewhat murky; legally, it is a non-
profit tax-exempt educational facility. However, the Rowans and Mrs. Rowan's family are very
much in control of the school, and make the majority of the decisions Richard Rowan served as
President for twenty-one years, while Paula was provost; they have now been promoted by the
Board of Trustees to Chancellor and President, respectively. In 1992, a scandal rocked the
school, in which the Rowans were charged with mismanagement, and critics stated that the
college was basically a business run for the purposes of enriching the family that controls it. That
year was marked by the abrupt dismissal of several faculty members and trustees who had been
critical of SCAD's administration, as well as the first development of both a student government
association (the United Students Forum) and faculty senate. Both of these organizations came out
of grassroots movements, and neither was supported by the administration. As well, several
explosive devices detonated near the school's buildings during the Spring of 1992. None caused
major damage or injuries, but one bomb, exploded on the day of commencement, resulted in the
cancellation of that year's graduation ceremonies.
After these events, SCAD was investigated by both the Southern Association of Colleges
and Schools, and the National Architectural Accrediting Board, both of which affirmed their
accreditation status. However, the American Association of University Professors voted to
sanction SCAD based on issues of academic freedom and tenure. The sanction, in place to this
day, pertains to the dismissal of twelve professors during the events of 1992, as well as to the
status of professors at the college. SCAD faculty members are in the unusual position of having
no tenure; all contracts at the school are year-to-year, and there is little recourse to appeal in the
event of dismissal. In addition, the college's policy is that there are no more than 20 students in
any class, which means that professors are expected to teach five classes each quarter, and "to
raise money, generate favorable publicity and recruit students as well as teach" (Applebome,
SCAD's publicity and admissions machine is formidable, and some charge, unethical.
Although these charges have not made headlines in several years, there have been accusations
made in the past that the school misrepresents its programs and facilities to prospective students.
There are also reports that the admissions office reports higher average SAT and GRE scores
than are actually achieved by the student body, and that although reports state that only around
45% of applicants are accepted, the truth is that any student who can afford to pay is admitted.
These accusations should be taken with a grain of salt, however, as they were leveled against the
college by apparently disgruntled former students and faculty, and have never been proven.
Today, SCAD claims to have an enrollment of over 4,500 students in 18 academic
programs, most offering both undergraduate and graduate degrees. The majors include
architectural history, architecture, art history, historic preservation and interior design. Other
offerings include fashion, fibers, graphic design, illustration, photography, painting and product
design. In addition, the school offers majors in media and performing arts, video/film, metals
and jewelry, and has rapidly expanding computer and sequential art departments. According to
admissions literature, students come from all 50 states, and over 80 foreign countries.
Approximately 15% of the student body is comprised of students from overseas, and the school
recruits heavily internationally. They offer a variety of services to international students, and
according to one tour guide, remain on the quarter system, rather than semesters, so that
international students have time to return home for Christmas breaks.
Approximately 1500 students, or a little over 30%, live in SCAD residential buildings,
including dormitories or apartments; with the school's expansion, they are building their first all-
new building, a dormitory expected to house approximately 400 additional students. This
building will be located behind Eichberg and Kiah Halls, near the current dorm complexes of
Weston and Dyson Houses.
For extra-curricular activities, SCAD offers NCAA Division Ill-level sports teams, as
well as several intramural or club sports. They also produce their own newspaper and television
program, broadcast over open circuits to the entire Savannah region.
As stated earlier, the Rowans founded SCAD in the old Savannah City Armory, later
Preston Hall, now Poetter Hall. At the time, Richard Rowan said that he was attracted to
The downtown area is architecturally fascinating. Nothing dwarfs anything
else. You can still walk the streets of Savannah and enjoy your stroll. But it's
not such a small town that it's boring, or such a big town that it's
overwhelming; it's just right. In Atlanta you could go for weeks and never see
anyone you knew on the street. I like the idea of walking outside and waving at
people I know. (as quoted by Keller, 1979)
An inventory of all of the buildings occupied by the college is provided in Appendix 1.1,
along with a current map of the campus. The following maps (Figure 3.1), show the school's
physical development from 1980 through 1997. It is difficult to see the map of Savannah
underlying them, but the left-hand boundary of all four maps is Martin Luther King, Jr.
Boulevard, with the Savannah River at the top and Forsyth Park, Gaston Street on the bottom.
The street on the right-hand side is East Broad Street, which marks the western edge of the
Although expansion to the south, beyond Gaston Street, is not shown, these maps show
the expansion of SCAD's campus, and the rapidity of its development. The bulk of the building
purchases took place in the five years from 1988 through 1992, a period when, the school's
facilities manager says, "If our president stood in front of a building for too long, rumors started
flying around that he was going to buy it." (Firebaugh, 5/2/00) In 1985, the school owned only
its original building, Poetter Hall, plus Harris Hall, purchased in 1983, and Drayton Street
Station, purchased in 1985, but not renovated to this day. As of the year 2000, the school owns
45 buildings around the city.
Figure 3.1, The Growth of the Campus:
et II . i-
7- -- 7
, ,I I
Source: Thors, 1997.
Henry Hall, one of Savannah's obsolete elementary schools, was purchased in 1986, and
then no more buildings were bought until a rush of purchases in 1988. It was in August of 1988
that the college bought Anderson, Wallin and Barnard Halls, three more obsolete elementaries,
and also added Kanter Hall, a natural choice adjacent to Poetter Hall, and the North and South
train sheds on Martin Luther King Jr., Blvd. In September of that year, they purchased Charlton
Hall for their administrative offices, and were donated Bell House, Charlton's carriage house.
In 1989, SCAD bought Norris and Habersham Halls, their first foray into the northeastern
corer of the city, and then purchased the two diners as campus eateries near Henry and
Anderson Halls. They also purchased the Trustees Theater and West Bank, both of which
remained vacant until recently. The diners, the theater and West Bank were all part of a
controversy over the school's tax exemption status that will be discussed shortly. Norris Hall was
the catalyst for another controversy involving the school and the local preservation community.
Savannah's historic preservation guidelines state that any changes to a the appearance of a
historic structure must be approved by the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC). Shortly
after its purchase as a classroom building, SCAD applied to the HPC for permission to paint the
building pink, and were denied. Not long after, over a weekend, Norris Hall was painted pink,
much to the disgust of the HPC. Although the local papers do not report how the controversy was
resolved, it appears that an uneasy truce was reached. The building is still pink, but in an article
in Historic Preservation in 1992 (two years after this incident), a local preservationist stated that
part of the school's problems with the community resulted from the fact that "until about two
years ago, 'the college would do its work without going through all the required review
procedures"' (Dean, 1992).
In 1990, Oglethorpe House, their first motel-style dormitory, and the adjacent Orleans
Hall, a former garage, were added to the campus. The Oglethorpe House purchase utilized $4.4
million in state-authorized revenue bonds. At the time, several residents and prominent officials
in Savannah came out to the required public hearing to support the school. The testimonials
given at that hearing include statements from the Chamber of Commerce that SCAD had
replaced a vacuum created by the removal of Armstrong-Atlantic State University and two
hospitals from the downtown area. In addition, Lee Adler, the director of the Juliette Gordon
Low Birthplace Museum, local realtors and restaurant owners all spoke out in favor of the bond
issue (Vaughn, 1990).
That same year, Bergen Hall, another automotive building was purchased, after a
rezoning decision by the Metropolitan Planning Commission that meant the school would not
have to add additional parking spaces (Homans, 8/8/90). It was in 1991 and 1992 that the bulk
of the school's buildings on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. were purchased, including Eichberg
and Kiah Halls, next to the City of Savannah's Visitor's Center, and Ex Libris, the bookstore
across the street. Hamilton Hall, the first building in the old port-related industrial district near
the river, was also added in 1991.
Perhaps because of the unrest and rumored financial difficulties of the 1991-92 academic
year, and its subsequent lawsuits, only two buildings were added in 1993 Briney Hall, which is
still not renovated, and Casey House, the college's bed and breakfast facility. It wasn't until 1995
that another round of transactions added Pulaski House (which had been leased as residences for
a decade before its purchase), Corbin Hall, the Georgia Guardian building, and Keys Hall.
Another riverfront building, Alexander Hall, the Jen Library, Propes Hall, and the additional two
motel-style dormitories, Weston and Dyson Houses were purchased in 1996 and 1997.
Although many prominent residents of Savannah have expressed their support for the
college, their relationship with the city has not always been rosy, however. In February and
March of 1996, the Chatham County Board of Assessors met several times to discuss the tax
exemption status of several of SCAD's buildings, and the meetings got quite heated. At that
time, SCAD's buildings were valued at $13.1 million, with $12.2 million of it tax exempt, saving
the school $244,000 in property taxes in 1996 alone. The issues revolved around SCAD's
buildings that were either vacant and/or dilapidated, or were not strictly used for education
purposes, including the diners, bed and breakfast inn, and bookstore. The then-vice chairman of
the Board of Assessors accused the college of making promises to rehabilitate buildings like the
old Weis (now Trustees) Theater in order to receive tax exemptions, and then of leaving them
empty for years. SCAD rebutted by arguing that even empty buildings serve a valid educational
purpose for their historic preservation and architecture students by serving as a laboratory for
them (Wilber, 2/2/96). Eventually, the tax exemptions were granted after SCAD had fully
renovated the buildings in question.
The school had two additional run-ins with the local community during the 1990s.
Downtown residents came out at one point to block a text change to the parking ordinance that
controls development in the Historic District, requesting that SCAD not purchase or build in
residential areas of the city. The residents stated that it would be preferable if the school would
concentrate their growth on West Broad Street, Broughton Street and the motel area under the
Talmadge Bridge. Although refusing to not purchase residential properties that fit their criteria,
the college has actually complied with these requests reasonably well, making several purchases
on Broughton Street, and utilizing the motels in question as their Weston House and Dyson
The newest complex of buildings, the Neal-Blun (or Midtown Campus) buildings, were
purchased in 1999, and are expected to be fully restored and occupied by the computer art
department by 2002.
It is difficult to say when each of these buildings were fully renovated and put into action,
as SCAD has only recently begun to keep comprehensive records of such things. Until recently,
however, it seems that they were allowing one to two years or more for the permitting and
renovation process, which indicates that the majority of the buildings purchased in the late 1980s
were actually put into service in the early 1990s, and so on. It should also be noted that the
school has typically been very free with their assignment of departments to buildings, moving
departments frequently as the need for space warrants. This is a positive indication of the
general flexibility of older buildings, many of which, like Keys Hall (first a residence, then
offices, then a television station), had already gone through several incarnations before SCAD
even took them over. Additionally the college continues to lease space in several buildings,
including the Scottish Rite temple, where administrative offices and The Gryphon Tearoom are
located, and Forsyth House, an apartment-style residence for male students.
Although it seems that the actual campus development was based more upon the
availability of buildings and the school's financial status at the time they became available,
SCAD has won several prestigious awards for the "design" of their campus. These include
Honor Awards from both the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP), and the American
Institute of Architects (AIA), as well as awards from the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation
and the Art Deco Societies of America (for their preservation of the Streamliner Diner). Their
nomination for the AIA's Honor Award in Urban Design plays up ties in SCAD's design to
traditional Anglo-Saxon campus design, comparing a Savannah square with the quadrangle of
Queens College, Oxford (Figure 3.2).
The entry then goes on to say that the way in which SCAD has created "nodes" of
buildings around several of the squares mimics the effects of an Oxfordian quadrangle:
The idea of a continuum is central. Just as Oxford's colleges became life
supporting entities within a pre-existing fabric, so does the College in
Savannah. The fundamental difference is that Savannah's system of squares
and wards extend the quadrangle relationship beyond a private experience to
wholly integrate the school as a civic entity (Thomas, 1997).
The graphic of Madison Square (Figure 3.3), on which many of the college's first
buildings were located, and which they consider the heart of the campus, shows this relationship
of the College with the square. It is clear that SCAD attempts to make a connection between
their physical development and traditional design, even as they break off this connection in order
to purchase the large industrial buildings outside of the historic district, like the Neal-Blun
complex, that are necessary for their continued expansion.
Figure 3.2, Comparison of an Oxfordian quad with a Savannah square:
4'" MTHE i
,(, QiLS COLLECT ( .j
___. .. ..! ... .
'- 1 '.-
,. 1 ,- I -; ,^
"the private quad":
(Queens College, Oxford)
l i e j 'Y J -.,/.
if .. : Ta u yg yI H
[0WAi R"D. -
tf i .. + 1. . .
_________ LI if Zii
"the public quad":
(Percival Ward, Savannah)
Source: Thorns, 1997.
Figure 3.3, Madison Square:
1: .ii /-
L _ _i! / .-
. --- ; (';
r 1 -.
]-; ' '<'
._^ *' t _________
(.- "- --;
N H OrM-^ ^ cytve \
Source: Thors, 1997.
Source: Thorns, 1997.
Because of the scattered nature of SCAD's campus, some of the services offered to their
students, although common to most colleges and universities, take a different form. The most
relevant of these are transportation considerations and the campus security precautions.
Although Savannah is an extremely
walkable city it takes approximately 20 minutes
to cross the historic district from one side to the
other in any direction SCAD provides regular bus
service between campus buildings and the
dormitories. They also allow 30 minutes between
classes instead of the customary 15 to 20, which is
sufficient for most students to get between
buildings when necessary, especially since
departments are divided by building.
While undergraduates are required to take a
series of traditional educational core courses,
including writing, math, science and foreign
language studies, as well as a series of art
foundation courses, they are the only students who
seem to have any difficulty getting between
SCAD offers a variety of transportation buildings. In order to assist freshmen and
services. Photos by the author.
sophomores with their schedules, the foundation courses in the liberal arts are held in one
building, Barnard Hall. Foundation courses in art studies, such as painting, sculpture, and
photography, are held in another building, not in the buildings in which these departments are
The remainder of the upper-class undergraduates and the graduate students generally
have most of their classes in one or two buildings, depending on their course of study. Most
students, once they are settled in Savannah, choose to live near their primary building, when at
all possible, and to walk or bicycle to classes. Several students, when asked about lock-up
facilities for bicycles at the different buildings, laughed and said, "Well, isn't that what the
parking meters are for?" This is a telling comment, indicative of the parking situation in
Savannah, which creates incentives for students to ride their bicycles, rather than drive. There are
few non-metered parking spaces in the city center, and the meter attendants are seemingly
everywhere. SCAD does have some parking spaces for their buildings, especially at those in the
far covers of the historic district. But even at buildings like Alexander Hall, in the industrial
district under the 1-17 bridge over the river, and Anderson Hall, one of the buildings farthest out
in the Victorian District, parking is still scarce, and students must purchase parking decals in
order to park there.
From 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily, after the
buses stop running at night, and before the
runs resume in the morning, the Campus
Safety Patrol provides rides for students to
and from academic buildings and dormitories.
Campus Safety patrols regularly at night, and provides
emergency rides during the day. Photo by author.
According to SCAD, "a campus safety force patrols all the college facilities and the surrounding
community by foot and by automobile." Security guards are also stationed in all SCAD
buildings 24 hours a day, a measure probably made more necessary by the nature of art students,
who will occupy their studios until late at night. Not only does the campus safety force protect
students, but residents of downtown have also indicated that they feel safer, as well. Lisa
Sundrla of the Savannah Downtown & Renewal Authority states: "Personally, I live and work on
Broughton Street, and with the library there now, I've never felt safer. The students are back and
forth all night, as is the campus safety patrol, and the noise of footsteps is actually comforting. I
know they're there."
There has been very little academic literature published in English about the role of
academic institutions, especially those taking a scattered-site campus form, in community
revitalization. The most likely cause of this lack of research is that, until the recent growth of
downtown campuses for major institutions, there have been few universities of this type in
English-speaking countries. For this reason, the literature review for this paper has concentrated
on several tangential areas that have an impact on the subject matter. The first of these is the
growth of the European and Anglo-Saxon campus planning traditions, and how these traditions
have affected American campuses. The second focus is on the environmental, social, and
physical issues inherent in campus development, including the use and reuse of buildings. The
third is on the relationship of campuses to their adjacent and surrounding communities, and the
recent shifts in thinking about the physical and social collaboration between the two. The fourth
segment of this literature review looks at factors in successful downtown and residential
revitalization, including the role of education, arts and culture, and commercial mixes. The fifth
focuses briefly on the principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED),
and especially on the concept of "eyes on the street" and of the 24-hour city.
Traditional Campus Planning
In his doctoral dissertation entitled The New University Environment: A 20e Century
Ideal, Ar-Rifai identifies three types of universities: the Continental, the English college, and the
North American campus. In the Continental European model, colleges (places where both
students and teachers lived and studied) were scattered throughout the city, but tended to be
clustered in a few regions. The colleges were, according to Ar-Rifai, "an integral component of
urban life with a precise relationship and unique character within the city" (p. 34). Some college
buildings had shops on the ground floor to provide income for the university, tying them even
more closely to their surrounding community. Two major qualities characteristic of, and
responsible for, development of a vital university were the vitality of the urban setting, and a
poly-functional environment. Ar-Rifai states that, "streets and open spaces became the
university's meeting places and channels of communication and exchange" (p. 37), drawing
others in the community into the discussions and lives of the students. The poly-functional
environment consisted of mixed-use buildings and complexes, including shops, classrooms, and
living and meeting spaces. It was also important that buildings could and frequently did change
use over time, alternately becoming libraries, living spaces, classrooms, and social spaces.
Scholars studying the growth of universities argue that they have long been associated with
cities, beginning in fairly large cities in Europe because of need for both support services and for
enough of an agricultural surplus to allow students to live fairly inexpensively (Hyde, 1988).
Thomas Bender writes that:
The Anglo-American tradition, based on the model of Oxford and Cambridge
and nourished by an Anglo-American tradition of anti-urbanism, is a major
deviation from the central theme of the history of universities. Since their
inception, they have been identified with cities, sometimes second-order
cities, but often those great cities that dominate the political, economic and
cultural life of nations (Bender, 1988, p. 3).
European universities continue to use a scattered-site model for new branches or for
entirely new universities. Some of the newest have attempted to incorporate new universities into
the city by building a city around a planned university. One example of this is the University of
Cergy-Pontoise in France; another, better known, example is that of Louvain-la-Neuve, outside
of Brussels, Belgium. In the 1960s, the French-speaking portion of the University of Leuven was
split off from the main university, which was located in Flemish-speaking northern Belgium. The
planners decided to build an entirely new city, into which the university would be incorporated.
They were attempting to avoid the "campus-ghetto", located outside a city, and saw the new city
and its spaces as a meeting place. The town was to be developed as an experiment in social
construction, new transportation methods, and human scale of new cities. It was to be dense,
with mixed land uses (all land was leased to keep control in the hands of the university and out
of the hands of speculators) all within a one-kilometer radius of the centrally located
underground rail station and parking structures. The planners stated that they were "trying to
reconstruct the atmosphere of old Italian medieval cities" (Woitrin, 1998, p. 79).
A Canadian example, and the North American university most comparable to the
situation of the Savannah College of Art and Design is Concordia University in Montreal.
Concordia absorbed the YMCA's Sir George Williams College, and maintains it as a separate
campus from their primary campus, located in the suburbs of the city. Sir George Williams
rented or built space in their downtown Montreal neighborhood wherever it was available, often
sharing buildings with restaurants, offices and retail spaces. Buildings are scattered over twenty
city blocks; most front directly onto the street and lack outdoor space. The "motley" collection of
buildings includes a converted garage/auto dealership, warehouses, row houses, a nightclub,
apartment buildings, and several floors in modern high-rises.
This physical imprint causes the university to be an integral component of the
urban fabric, rather than a well-defined and separate precinct. Its buildings
comprise a strong street presence; it is an important player in the real estate
market due to the fact that a large proportion of its space is in rented premises
and much of this is relatively footloose and can be moved around to follow
attractive lease arrangements (Barlow, 1998, p. 158).
Barlow has identified several externalities associated with Sir George Williams' College unusual
form, including benefits to surrounding commercial establishments, including restaurants, bars
and copy shops; street congestion; a loss of business during university events and student
activities; and the vulnerability of students and faculty to urban crime. However, he also says
that the university has become an essential part of the environment in downtown Montreal, and
goes on to make the analogy that universities, like Concordia, with an urban mission have
"doors" for access instead of "gates" for exclusion.
The second type of university that Ar-Rifai identifies is the English college, typically
located in and dominating small towns. The college, exemplified by Oxford and Cambridge
(often abbreviated Oxbridge), is autonomous, and the lives of the students and teachers are
mostly isolated from those of the townspeople by physical, social and cultural barriers. In his
masterful Campus: An American Planning Tradition, Paul Venable Turner also discusses the
English or Anglo-Saxon university model. He says that the Oxbridge colleges were initially
enclosed because of monastic precedents, but also because of the enclosure enabled the wardens
to both control the behavior of the students and to protect them from the townspeople during
times of extreme strife. Starting in 1826 with the University of London, England also eventually
developed a model of civic universities for the technical and vocational training of middle-class
students, whom mostly lived at home with their parents (Ar-Rifai, 1983; Rothblatt, 1988). Ar-
Rifai states that these universities "consisted mainly of large-scale modest buildings... scattered
widely across the city" (p. 47).
The third type of university identified by Ar-Rifai is the North American master-planned
campus, separated from the community that houses it. Although Ar-Rifai only touches on this
briefly, Turner provides an in-depth analysis of the development of the American ideal from the
English model. He points out that "campus" is a word derived from the Latin for "field", and
was first used to describe Princeton's very rural setting in the late 1700s. It has gradually come to
mean the whole of a university's complex of land and buildings, but the term's origin is
significant in its indication of the pastoral conception of the American institutions.
This ideal [of separate buildings set in park-like open space] is so strong in
America that even those schools located in cities, where land is scarce, have
often gone to considerable expense or inconvenience to simulate a rural
spaciousness (Turner, 1984, p. 4).
Scholars have proposed reasons for this that tend to be more cultural than pragmatic,
although Turner does state that colleges were seen as having a parental-substitute role, and so
located themselves in the country and/or suburbs to be away from the "vices" and temptations of
the city. He also says this is why students were clustered in dormitories so that they could be
watched over and protected. Early on, the only American colleges that tended to be located in
urban areas were Roman Catholic institutions, whose "educational traditions were generally
more European than Anglo-American" (Turner, 1984).
Even as America's cities grew, and many of the older traditional institutions, like
Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania (PENN), originally located on the outskirts of the
city, found themselves in increasingly dense, and often, socially and economically distressed,
neighborhoods, they continued to isolate themselves from their surroundings. In The Campus as
a Work ofArt, Thomas Gaines writes that most successful urban campuses are planned as
wholes, and their buildings turn their backs on the street. Although they can be entered from the
street, the primary focus of these universities, like Columbia and PENN, is on the quads and
plazas in the center of the block. They often isolated themselves socially as well as physically,
with few official forays into their adjacent communities until a combination of economic and
cultural factors forced them to participate in the lives of these neighborhoods in the late 20O
century. These changes and the resulting outreach efforts will be discussed later in this chapter.
In contrast to the traditional universities, a second type of urban institution grew up after
the Civil War, as America became increasingly urbanized, and as the benefits of higher
education became apparent to more of the middle class. Most of these were civic universities
preparing students for professional and technical practices, on the model of the German
institutions, which gained a large following in the U.S. in the late 19h century. According to
These schools were generally in cities. They purposely provided no
dormitories and took no official interest in their students' extracurricular lives.
And their physical planning made little attempt to create an integrated pattern
to distinguish the school from the rest of the city (p. 163).
These, then, were the main models for today's metropolitan university, designed more to provide
vocational training for the middle classes than the traditional liberal arts education exemplified
by the Oxbridge and Ivy League colleges.
Issues in Campus Planning
Coherence The Nature of the Campus
Three of the most important writers on the nature of the university campus, Turner,
Gaines and Dober, argue that one of the most important factors in creating a viable campus is
coherence, an aesthetic sense that the campus is a "place", a community of scholars.
The American campus possesses qualities and functions different from those
of any other type of architecture or built environment. One of its most
important qualities is a peculiar state of equilibrium between change and
continuity. As a community, it is like a city complex and inevitably, subject
to growth and change and it therefore cannot be viewed as a static
architectural monument. But it is not exactly a city; it requires a special kind
of physical coherence and continuity. The planners of recent decades who
advocated treating the campus like any urban entity... ignored the special
nature of the college and university (Turner, 1984, p. 304).
A good campus consists of a group of harmonious buildings related by
various means (such as arches and landscaping) that create well-proportioned
and diverse urban spaces containing appropriate furnishings (Gaines, 1991, p.
These authors argue that a physically coherent campus can help instill a sense of social
community among its students, and that this is an essential quality in American campuses. It
would be difficult on a scattered-site campus such as SCAD's to create an environment where
students can interact with each other on an informal basis. SCAD addresses these difficulties
through the use of student lounges in each building, and through dining facilities such as the two
antique diners where primarily students eat. In addition, they provide extracurricular activities,
including field trips, socials, service opportunities, and inter-collegiate and inter-mural sports
that help students get to know each other, and to feel a part of the SCAD community.
One of the recurring themes in the development of new campuses in the 20th century has
been transportation. In the United States, this has meant campuses oriented towards automobiles,
with acres of parking surrounding the main buildings, which are oriented towards the parking
lots, rather than the pedestrian walkways between them, much like the University of South
Florida in Tampa.
The automobile became a principal factor in postwar campus planning,
especially at schools with a high proportion of commuting students. For the
first time, problems of vehicular access, parking and traffic congestion
became serious concerns of the planner (Turner, 1984, p. 267).
A 1997 study of the University of Akron, Ohio showed that 53% of the university's
commuter students drove 10 miles each way, while 24.2% drove more than 21 miles each way.
(Smith, Gauld and Tubbs, 1997) Modem American commuter schools target students who are
committed to living with parents or spouses, or who have full-time jobs which cause them to
locate their homes in relation to the workplace, not the university. They are less likely to
participate in extra-curricular activities or to spend free time at the university than traditional
students. Smith and her colleagues argue that education should be provided in proximity to
where these students are committed to living.
New European and Canadian urban universities are similarly oriented towards the
commuter student, but tend to focus more on mass transit than on the needs of the automobile.
The University of Quebec at Montreal was built in 1979 around an underground subway station.
Phase I of the university complex incorporated shops at street level into the buildings in order to
maintain the urban fabric (Junca-Adenot, 1998). A scattered site downtown campus could take
advantage of the existing transportation infrastructure within a city better than a traditional new
campus on the outskirts could. In larger cities, like Portland, Atlanta, or Seattle, new light-rail or
express bus services could even be planned with a campus in mind. The university buildings
could be interspersed with shopping and residential facilities in graduated densities, centered
around the rail or bus station, allowing both students and other residents to live within walking or
biking distance of the station and the university.
Building Types and Uses
Modern educational methods and equipment, especially in the physical sciences, have
resulted in increasingly specialized building types. Architects and planners, as well as educators
acknowledge that the life span of modern buildings seems to be shortening, and this reality,
along with decreased budgets, results in buildings that are not meant to last the hundreds of years
that older buildings have spent in usefulness.
Viewed comprehensively, architectural concepts and styles visible in the
panorama of college and university buildings, within one lifetime, seem to
have an ever-shortening life cycle. Response to functional requirements is one
cause, adjustments in institutional missions another, fashions a third (Dober,
1996, p. 49).
This is not always the case, however. The national historic preservation movement, along
with economic realities that sometimes make it less expensive to rehabilitate older buildings for
classrooms, living or office spaces than to build anew, have caused a rethinking of the utility of
older buildings. Turner points out that during the economic recession of the 1970s, planners
became much more conscious of reuse of older buildings, and much less likely to recommend
tearing them down. The corresponding growth of the preservation movement may have also
affected this shift in thought.
Adaptive reuse of older buildings that originally served a purpose other than education
(often, old factories or institutions) as new university facilities seems to be more common among
the European countries than in the U.S. This is perhaps due to the relative difficulty and cost of
obtaining suitable large parcels of undeveloped land in Europe, versus the United States. In
developing their expanded university campuses, Greece has split their old universities by faculty
and subject matter among different islands, choosing to reuse older buildings because they could
be assured that they were suitable to the architecture and climate of the area (Renwick, 1998).
The new university at Lyons, France, is located in refurbished tobacco factory buildings.
University officials there have stated that the university "transforms the city with its university
life. Cultural activities stimulate economic development and give dynamism to residential
development" (Chauffray, 1998, p. 58).
However, other campus design practitioners have expressed reservations about the reuse
of older buildings, pointing out that variations in building temperature and humidity, which can
be extremely injurious to modem computers and laboratory equipment, are much harder to
control in older buildings (Hardman, 1998).
Adaptive reuse of buildings may be more suitable for some types of facilities than others
- however, SCAD's experience proves that this is a viable and cost-effective alternative to
completely new buildings.
The numbers of Americans seeking higher education opportunities grew astoundingly in
the 20th century, and continues to skyrocket. In 1900, 1% of Americans attended college; in
1994, 57% of 18-24 year olds attended college (Edwards and Marullo, 1999). And this figure
does not include the millions of older, non-traditional students returning to college to complete
their degrees or to obtain a graduate degree. These numbers will continue to skyrocket, both in
percentages and in actual numbers, and American universities will continue to grow to
accommodate them. In 1992, there were 3,587 accredited colleges and universities in the U.S.
They enrolled 12 million students annually, and employed 2 million faculty and staff (Dober,
1992). More colleges and university branches are opening each year, as existing universities find
that they have reached capacity.
As the costs of higher education also grow, along with the student population, the
demographic profile of students changes. A 1997 study at the University of Akron showed that
50.9% of freshmen lived at home with their parents, spouse or partner, while another 37.2%
lived off-campus with friends or roommates (Smith, Gauld and Tubbs, 1997). Smith, et. al,
argue that services should be provided where these students live. Many new types of educational
programs have developed because of these changes in student demographics. Among them are
undergraduate programs for non-traditional students, which provide college credit for life and
work experience, such as that offered by Eckerd College in St. Petersburg. Another type of
graduate program for the new student are weekend MBA programs, which are designed for
professionals, who can work during the week, and take classes one weekend a month. A third is
the short-term residential program, also usually designed for professionals, in which most work
is done over the Internet or through the mail, and students only meet on their campuses for two
to three weeks each semester, or sometimes, each year. A fourth are mobile educational
programs, which travel to their students, holding classes wherever the majority of their market is.
These programs are all designed to allow students to live and work at a distance from the
institutions at which they pursue their education. A scattered site campus could help these
programs, as well as traditional universities and community colleges to locate themselves in their
markets those communities where students live and/or work, allowing them to reach campus
more easily, and to spend more time there.
The nature of education has changed in the past several decades, as technological
changes, including television, personal computers, and the Internet have impacted the methods of
delivering education tremendously. Today, as student populations continue to grow and
education budgets fail to keep pace, educators are having to resort to ever more innovative means
of providing lectures, materials and services to students. Among these methods are television
broadcasts and on-line courses.
Cyberschool... is a fusion of computer-interactive classroom methodologies,
traditional classroom practice, advanced multi-media programs, and distance
learning... It is a response to the need to teach more students without
additional resources in terms of the number of faculty and classroom buildings
(Blythe, 1997, p. 43).
Correspondingly, the physical facilities needed to support the new educational methods has
impacted campus design and planning.
The current practice of distance education is transformed as students both on
and off campus take advantage of courses designed with the flexibility to meet
diversified needs. Physical adjacency to classrooms, labs and libraries
becomes less important than electronic access to these resources (Blythe,
1997, p. 45).
Renwick (1998) states, however, that most experts do not believe that the face-to-face contact of
the traditional campus will disappear with the development of distance learning, but that new
means of educational delivery will only supplement traditional means. Scattered site campuses
would allow a fusion of technological delivery methods and traditional teaching. Video labs and
conferencing centers, as well as ethernet-equipped computer laboratories could be located in
outlying buildings, making them easily accessible to students who may not have the time or
inclination to commute to a traditional campus.
University- Community Relations
In discussing the relations between the population of Paris and the University of Paris in
the early 13th century, Ferruolo tells of the extreme protections given to the scholars by the
French king in 1200 against violence by the citizens of the city. He then ponders why the king
should have been so willing to give them protections and immunities in order to keep the
university in the city:
One at once thinks of the economic impact of having three to four thousand
masters and scholars resident in the city, most of them despite all the
complaints we hear of poverty receiving adequate funds from their
families, from church prebends, or even from teaching to pay high rents and
to buy food, wine, clothing and other supplies from the city's merchants and
artisans. The schools were an important source of revenue to the citizens of
Paris and, in turn, through taxation, to the king (Ferruolo, p. 32).
Take out the references to Paris, the king, and the church, and this could be any university town
in the 21st century, faced with the difficulties inherent in having a large group of "foreigners"
with little allegiance to their city or region dominating the economic life of the city. Citizens of
the city may not completely approve of the students or their actions, but they usually appreciate
the economic benefits of having the university in their area, acknowledging that many of the jobs
in the region are directly or indirectly tied into the university.
Scholars of modem university-community relations continue to acknowledge the tension
inherent in such relationships: "Traditionally, relationships between institutions external to the
community and impoverished neighborhoods have been characterized by distrust and suspicion"
(Kreutziger, et. al, 1999, p. 829). Conflicts come from a variety of sources, including pressures
on the housing stock from students, a social tension derived from socioeconomic differences
between the university population and the community residents, and conflicting interests in land
use matters. Although there were isolated attempts by universities to reach out to their
surrounding communities throughout their history, many scholars maintain that the real
breakthrough in relations came during the social unrest of the 1960s. In The Urban University in
America, Berube argues that protests by students in the '60s were based on three main charges.
First, that urban universities were economic barriers to the urban poor and low-income students
who sought college credentials for employment. Second, that during expansion periods,
universities often uprooted the urban poor without regard to their welfare (also Marcus, 1999).
And third, that universities and their faculty were responsible for maintaining the status quo in
their delivery of urban policy studies to government and established institutions.
In response to these charges, and in a pragmatic move to ensure their own safety within
the often-marginal neighborhoods in which they found themselves, urban universities began to
develop the urban mission: to educate the poor, establish good relations with the community, and
develop unbiased urban research programs (Berube, 1978; Weinberg, 1999). The past thirty
years have seen the growth of several different types of outreach programs, among them service
learning, whereby residents of a neighborhood determine the concerns of their neighborhoods
and the best means of addressing them. Faculty, staff and students are then assigned and paid by
the university to assist them. The United States Department of Housing and Urban
Development's Community Outreach Partnership Centers (COPC) program provides grants to
university staff to assist them in reaching out to their communities with services, technical
assistance, and research (Kreutziger, et. al, 1999; Mayfield, et. al, 1999; Forrant and Silka,
Other universities, such as Howard in Washington, D.C., Trinity College in Hartford, and
Yale in New Haven, Connecticut, are taking more active roles in the revitalization of their
surrounding communities. Yale has partnered with the city on a program to redevelop
commercial areas adjacent to the campus, not only participating in the purchase, redesign and
construction of the physical structure of the streets, but also assisting merchants and
entrepreneurs with technical and marketing assistance (Charles, 1994). The University of
Pennsylvania purchases rundown houses in their West Philadelphia neighborhood, rehabilitates
them, and then sells them to faculty and staff at less than market rates plus subsidizes down
payments and closing costs. The school has also hired neighborhood residents to serve as roving
"safety ambassadors", equipped with training and walkie-talkies, as well as helping to arrange
the construction of a new elementary school, a supermarket and a cinema (Marcus, 1999). In
1992, faced with slipping enrollments (partly because of the presence of serial killer Jeffrey
Dahmer in their neighborhood), Marquette University in Milwaukee spent $50 million dollars to
purchase, renovate, or demolish and rebuild 115 properties in its community. Although these
drastic actions were not without repercussions, crime in Marquette's neighborhood is down 50%,
and applications are at an all-time high (van der Werf, 1999).
These are just a few examples of how universities in urban settings have attempted to
repair their relations with their communities, and the communities themselves. They've
mobilized their academic knowledge, their money, and their influence to revitalize their cities,
partly out of a sense of responsibility, but largely out of a sense of self-preservation.
Most planning and development practitioners will concede that successful revitalization
of a city or town of any size relies on a multitude of factors. Among these are the variety,
availability and accessibility of shopping in the downtown region and a variety of safe and
affordable housing options. Those who choose to live in America's inner cities, or even in the
downtown of smaller towns, are searching for something that they feel is not available in the
suburbs. For some, this is access to public transportation, or an easy commute to the office. For
many, however, it is access to cultural opportunities that the suburbs lack, or the unique charm
and character of old houses and neighborhoods. This section of the literature review will focus
on five areas around which community revitalization revolves; retail composition, residential
revitalization, the role of the arts, the role of education, and historic preservation.
Theories on the retail composition that will make downtown competitive with suburban
malls vary greatly. Some practitioners argue that the same marketing and retail mix rules that
apply to malls should apply to the downtown retail strip as well (Duany, et al., 2000; Tyler,
2000). Duany argues for centralized management and joint advertising and merchandising, key
components of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Main Street Program. The NTHP's
Main Street Program enlists one or more staff persons to help coordinate business recruitment,
marketing, and facade and street improvements, primarily on historic downtown Main Streets.
(Tyler, 2000) In addition to the facade restoration that is an integral part of the Main Street
approach, Duany argues for strategic placement of anchors at a distance from parking, and for
location of similar businesses or accessory businesses close to one another (so called "retail
clustering"). Tyler states
a primary strategy should include encouraging the right mix of businesses.
Local policy makers should promote browsing, shopping, retail stores, and other
functions which encourage the leisurely use of the downtown, reestablishing it
as a focus of community life (Tyler, 2000, p. 175).
Although few downtown advocates would disagree with the prospect of making
downtown a center of city life again, some take issue with the means by which many planners
and development officials mean to do so. A focus of business district redevelopment in the 1980s
and 1990s has revolved around getting national chains to locate downtown. Roberta Brandes
Gratz argues that this is the wrong approach. National chains, she concedes, may help entice
consumers downtown with familiar goods and prices, but too many of them can have a
deadening effect on the downtown. Too many chain stores can cause a distinctive downtown like
Savannah's to lose the "sense of place" that brings others from far away to experience the
differentnesss" of it. In addition, chains can stifle local entrepreneurship. "If the aim is to rebuild
downtown America," Gratz writes, "the local economy counts the most and locally-owned
businesses are the backbone of Main Street (p. 45)."
Savannah is at a challenging place in its downtown rejuvenation process. Their primary
retail streets are on the upswing, with an increased interest in locating downtown by local and
regional stores, but also by national chains. Banana Republic, the Gap and Starbucks Coffee
have all signed contracts to locate in renovated buildings on Broughton Street. Typically, these
chains are on the forefront of what may be called the "urban retail pioneer movement" other
stores, such as Tower Records, can be expected to follow quickly. While this is met with great
excitement by Broughton Street's existing small up-scale merchants, it could prove a danger to
the character of the street.
In the 1960s and 70s, Americans began reversing the decades-old trend of flight to the
suburbs by the upper and middle classes. Duany, citing William Kraus, says that the
revitalization of older neighborhoods in America's inner cities follows three stages:
The market segment that pioneers difficult areas is the "risk-oblivious": artists
and recent college graduates. These are followed by the "risk-aware": yuppies;
and finally by the "risk-averse": the middle class. (Duany, 2000, p. 171)
Although there is little scholarly literature on the "urban homesteaders", as the first pioneers into
marginal or risky neighborhoods are often called, newspapers and magazines, especially in larger
cities, are full of their stories. Author Gregory Sholette says that,
through advertisements and press releases, land developers, speculators and
even the [New York] city government described low income neighborhoods
such as Hell's Kitchen and the Lower East Side as "untamed territories" where
upwardly mobile white renters were called upon to serve as "trail blazers" or
"urban pioneers (Sholette, 1997).
Authors studying the "back-to the-city" movement of the 60s and 70s argue that, as much as low
housing prices, it was the cultural mix of African-Americans, Asians and Latinos that drew the
original pioneers. Acting in reaction to their sterile childhoods in the suburbs, urban
homesteaders, mostly artists and the young, were willing to overlook safety issues and crumbling
buildings, for the vitality of city life (Shollette, 1997: Brown, 2000). Duany states that urban
pioneers "cherish their edgy self-image and eschew iconography that smacks of middle-class
contentment (Duany, 2000, p. 171)." In order to encourage pioneers to the inner cities, he says,
Cities must be prepared to bend the rules a little. Zoning that prohibits housing
in commercial and industrial areas often largely empty and therefore
affordable must be replaced with a mixed-use classification. The on-site
parking requirement can be waived, as pioneers can be expected to park on the
street, if they own cars at all.... The BYOS (bring your own sheetrock) unit
should be legalized, and developers should be able to get certificates of
occupancy for apartments that are habitable but as yet unfinished (Duany, 2000,
The demands of the second wave of migrants to the inner cities, the yuppies (or the "risk-
aware") are different from those of the first wave of artists. The second wave seeks more
comfortable, already established buildings, offering the amenities they are used to from the
suburbs. They also seek safety, or at least a perception of safety, open space, and retail amenities.
The yuppies are as likely to move to the city for the shortened commute as for access to nightlife
and cultural amenities.
The third wave generally consists of wealthy empty-nesters and retirees, already
financially established, who are seeking the culture and excitement of the city, as well as a
release from the burdens of maintaining a large house in the suburbs. In a recent article in
Preservation magazine, Ben Brown discusses the increased likelihood that the new wave of
inner-city dwellers would revitalize smaller cities, such as Charleston, West Virginia, Durham,
North Carolina, or Savannah. He also says that these migrants are as likely to live in converted
offices over downtown retail shops, old factories, renovated hotels or converted warehouses, as
in houses. According to Brown, this trend makes gentrification of poor neighborhoods a moot
Savannah has seen the progress of all of these populations. SCAD students and faculty, as
artists, are more likely to occupy poorer areas of the city, acting as the "urban pioneers", and
renovating the neighborhood enough that the second wave of yuppies will move in, and
eventually the third wave of wealthy second-home buyers. However, in a different scenario from
that which Brown describes, SCAD has already taken over the possible loft spaces in much of
Savannah's old industrial buildings, leaving only houses as an option. While this provides a
benefit to home owners in the form of increased property values, it also causes gentrification of
older neighborhoods, and displacement of some poor and elderly residents.
The Role of the Arts
More and more frequently, cities and towns of all sizes are looking to the arts to provide a
much-needed boost to their sense of identity, their nightlife and their economies. Arts programs
aimed at rejuvenating inner cities range from the very small, such as murals painted by high
school children, to the very large, as in multi-million dollar performing arts centers and
High school art teacher Pamela Smith of Troy, Alabama, summed up the power
of a mural project:
The mural project inspired the Mayor of Troy and downtown merchants to start
a city "Revitalization Committee". The committee, composed of merchants,
community leaders, a group of my best art students, and myself, meets twice
each month to discuss ideas, draw up plans and make decisions.
The students drew the buildings around the town square and rendered them with
new colors and facelift changes to give owners a preview of what their
buildings could become. As a result, businesses on two sides of the town square
in the older downtown area have been completely renovated with new paint,
awnings, and unique signs. A restaurant and a coffee shop now have night hours
which have brought people back to the downtown area in the evenings for social
interaction. The town square has come alive (Smith, 1997, p. 35).
Smith goes on to say that the experience has brought her students into the mainstream of
community life, and has given them and the town's officials an acceptance of significant roles
for youth in the community, dispelling the sense of isolation and alienation of suburban youth.
Troy has hit upon one of the backbones of the NTHP's Main Street Program aesthetic appeal -
and found a less expensive way to implement it by using young artists instead of professionals.
Although this may seem a small example, it is telling in that the power of the arts to
affect every type of community cannot be underestimated. At the other end of the arts spectrum,
major new performing arts facilities and museums are the backbone of community revitalization
efforts in large (and small) cities all over the country. The Massachusetts Museum of Moder Art
opened in several old factory buildings in a small town in the Berkshires in the late 1990s, and
has been drawing crowds of tourists and media ever since. Similarly, new modem art museums
opened in a rundown building on the Thames River in London and in a depressed part of Bilbao,
Spain in the last few years, and have attracted similar crowds, and needed revenues.
The New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark opened in 1997, and attracted
800,000 patrons in its first eight months. As of 1998, four new restaurants, a new baseball
stadium, and an adjacent riverfront esplanade were being constructed, and two hotel chains were
considering new hotels nearby. Corporations seeking space in downtown Newark have cited the
presence of the arts center as a factor in their decision to relocate, and attitudes toward the city
by wealthy suburbanites have improved (Strom, 1999). Cleveland has found that their newly
renovated theater district generates $2.20 for nearby businesses for every $1.00 of theater tickets
sold (Austin, 1998).
In his study of America's growth areas, Hot Towns, Peter Wolf says that
More than ever before in America, migration is targeted towards places where
inhabitants can enjoy art, music, literature, theater, and all the other enriching
fare provided by cultural organizations. Traditionally considered non-essential
to town growth, in the competition among places for fifth-migration participants
today, quality cultural organizations and programs provide communities with a
distinct edge, as corporate relocation experts will tell you. So will retirees
looking for a place to spend the winter or a place to move to. Entrepreneurs who
envision an energetic, agreeable future for themselves, their children, and their
employees seek to supplement the ordinary with the promise of the arts (Wolf,
1999, p. 212).
This supports the anecdotal evidence from Savannah, in which numerous planning
officials have stated that one of SCAD's biggest effects on the city is to provide the artistic and
cultural amenities that were previously lacking. These amenities, including concerts, art exhibits,
and theater performances, bring people to visit and to live in the city that otherwise would never
have considered it. In addition, the small art projects that students have contributed to around the
city, including murals, building renovations, and such programs as the Savannah Sidewalk Art
Festival (during which participants literally draw on the sidewalk), lend a vitality to the city that
sets it apart from other small southern cities with the same environmental attributes.
The Role of Schools
Local schools are an essential ingredient in urban revitalization. Common sense says that
only with good local schools will families with children move into the inner cities. Duany argues
that consolidated school districts, allowing the cities to share in the resources of the suburbs, are
the first step towards improving inner city schools enough for the middle class. If consolidated
districts are not possible, however, he argues for the creation of magnet schools, charter schools,
and the encouragement of parochial schools anything that will set inner cities schools apart
from those in the suburbs.
Roberta Brandes Gratz takes a different approach towards schools and their ability to
affect real change in the community. She chooses to focus on the ability of institutions of higher
learning, like SCAD, to bring new life to their neighborhoods. However, she says that schools,
whether elementary through high school, or colleges and universities, play an essential role in
their communities. Schools, she says,
Provide a broader, more diversified benefit to a downtown than any new,
unneeded convention center or sports stadium. And educational institutions
provide some needed stability for a downtown during economic downturns.
Students are a constant, even during recessions. (Gratz, 1998, p. 258).
Duany agrees: "the long-term health and diversity of a city is ultimately tied closely to the
quality of its schools (Duany, 2000, p. 172)."
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, commonly called CPTED by
practitioners, is a passive approach to crime prevention involving a careful survey and redesign
of neighborhood elements. The point is to increase the chance that a criminal might be observed
in committing a felonious act or, at the very least, to increase the perpetrator's perception that
they might be observed. Many of CPTED's principles are applied directly to individual
buildings, such as increasing sight lines from windows to potential target areas or controlling
access to private spaces. Territoriality also plays an important part, extending the responsibilities
of a building's occupants or a neighborhood's residents into the streets or public spaces so that
there is a sense of ownership over them and the activities that occur there. Two of CPTED's
principles that are most relevant to SCAD's presence in Savannah are surveillance (real or
perceived), and activity generation. Surveillance and activity generation are both part of the
"eyes on the street" concept forwarded by Jane Jacobs in 1961. In her seminal work The Death
andLife of Great American Cities, Jacobs argues that neighborhood activity levels,
diversification of building usage, pathway utilization (life on the streets), and population density
are very important factors in crime deterrence. All of these elements play into the number of
people on the street and the likelihood that they are paying attention to what is happening around
them, and will act on any suspicious behavior.
In addition, studies have shown that lighting, the presence of vacant and/or vandalized
buildings, and the behavior of other occupants of the streets all play into the public's perception
of the safety of an area (Wilson and Kelling, 1982; Valentine, 1988; Lewis and Maxfield, 1980;
Brower, et. al, 1983; Greenberg, 1986). In his work on women and fear, Valentine states that:
When a woman is beyond her local environment she makes judgments about
her safety... from cues she receives about social behavior from the actual
physical surroundings. For example, signs of incivility such as vandalism,
graffiti and litter suggest inappropriate or threatening behavior is possible or
permitted, whereas signs of care such as neat, litter-free streets suggest the
opposite. (Valentine, 1998)
Pablant and Baxter applied these concepts of density, civility and surveillance to school
vandalism and found that:
1. Schools with low vandalism rates will be characterized by a higher level
of aesthetic appeal and maintenance of the properties, while schools with high
vandalism rates will be characterized by lower aesthetic appeal and inadequate
2. Schools with low vandalism rates will be surrounded by highly diverse
and active neighborhoods with high habitation density and land coverage,
while schools with high vandalism rates will be surrounded by less active
neighborhoods with lower habitation density and land coverage.
3. Unimpaired visibility of school property will function as a deterrent to
vandalism, such that high visual accessibility of school property by neighbors
and passersby will be found to be associated with low vandalism rates, while
the reverse will characterize schools with high vandalism rates (1975, p. 272).
SCAD's choice to locate in downtown Savannah would seem to be an unconscious use of
CPTED principles to protect both the school and its students, and, peripherally, other residents
and users of the downtown area. Following the logic of the crime prevention literature, the reuse
and maintenance of otherwise vacant buildings adds an additional presence to the urban fabric of
the street, and prevents passersby from feeling that the buildings, and therefore the
neighborhood, are unsafe. Residents and visitors are more likely to occupy the street, and to take
interest in the events of the street, leading to decreased opportunities for unobserved criminal
As stated earlier, there is little literature on scattered-site, adaptive reuse campuses along
the model of SCAD. One example, written up by Ottolenghi and Palazzo, does seem to sum up
the benefits that proponents of scattered site campuses cite as the best reasons for it. La Sapienza
is Rome's oldest state university, with over 186,000 students in three branches. The oldest
branch was a "city within a city", with no room for expansion. New buildings were placed or
occupied without consideration to their relationship to the university as a whole. The second
branch of the university was built outside the city "at heavy ecological cost" (p. 90). The
research facilities of this new campus are too isolated from the city, compelling the use of
automobiles and preventing socialization by students. Integration between students and the
adjacent community was far from successful.
Learning from this experience, La Sapienza's third branch was developed in the early
1990s in an older, declining neighborhood in the heart of Rome. Empty school buildings from
the 1920s, and vacant industrial plants and warehouses were adapted to the university's needs.
The campus was planned around existing bus and rail connections, and outdoor space, including
sports fields, was created using the under-maintained local parks, which would be shared with
the neighborhood's residents. Although the branch is only beginning to get off the ground,
planners anticipate that it will reunify the neighborhood, providing new economic opportunities
for residents, and the services that the university will provide to them. Ottolenghi and Palazzo
The new settlement pattern does not concern only physical planning: the
University opens onto the City through a set of activities which include trade and
services, catering, facilities for sports, performances, exhibitions, [and] leisure
facilities, but also advisory agencies, libraries and language labs open to the
public (p. 93).
In compiling the data and references reviewed for this study, several different methods
were used. They included a review of relevant scholarly and anecdotal literature, City of
Savannah and quasi-governmental documents, and the literature of the Savannah College of Art
and Design. Additional research methods included interviews with relevant parties in Savannah,
analysis of census and tax assessors data, and GIS mapping. All methods are outlined below:
Reference materials for the City of Savannah, the Savannah College of Art and Design,
and the topics covered in the literature review were obtained from the Internet, and the books and
periodicals of the University of Florida library. In addition, during several research trips, the
materials of the Georgia Historical Society, Armstong-Atlantic State University, the Savannah
College of Art and Design's Jen Library, and the Savannah Public Library proved helpful. The
Savannah Downtown Renewal Authority was also of great assistance, providing copies of both A
City of Streets and Squares: Savannah Design Guidelines for the Historic District and the
redevelopment plan for Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd.
Interviews were conducted with a variety of sources, many of whom proved helpful in
providing both background material and specific data regarding the growth of SCAD and its
effects on Savannah's urban fabric, society, and economy. Sources included Kate Firebaugh,
Design Group Manager for SCAD; Lee Adler, a leading preservationist; Darrell Daise and
Marsha Verdree of the City of Savannah Departments of Housing and Community Development,
respectively; and David Saussey, Chatham County Commissioner for District 5. Others
interviewed included Beth Reiter, Savannah's Preservation Officer; Lise Sundrla, Executive
Director of the Savannah Development and Renewal Authority; and William E. Stiles, property
developer. In addition, Marlborough Packard, Chair of SCAD's Historic Preservation
Department, Terry Harrelson, Revenue Collector for Chatham County and Jim Hutton,
Development Facilitator for the City of Savannah, proved extremely helpful in answering
questions and directing research efforts.
The case study areas (Broughton Street, and a comparison of the Sister Court and Cuyler-
Brownsville areas) were selected for several reasons, outlined below:
Broughton Street is Savannah's primary commercial street. SCAD classroom buildings
are located on both the far eastern and western ends of this strip, and the Jen Library and
Trustees Theater were opened on Broughton in 1998. The type of retail characterizing the street
is currently undergoing a shift, from the fairly low-end clothing stores and short-term loan
facilities that were its primary occupants, to a mixture of higher-end clothing, restaurants, and
home furnishing stores. In order to determine the proportion of this shift that SCAD's presence
on the street has caused, a site survey of the entire street was conducted. Randomly selected
merchants were queried as to the length of time their business had occupied that location,
whether they anticipated moving in the near future, and what effect SCAD had on their business
or decision to locate there. The results of this survey are provided in Appendix 5.1, headed Case
Study Data, and Appendix 5.2, Broughton Street Survey Maps.
Wallin Hall is located in the Sister Court neighborhood of Savannah, a part of the
Victorian Historic District. The building was an elementary school until it was purchased from
the Chatham County Board of Education by SCAD in 1988, as part of a package deal with four
other historic structures. Wallin Hall was selected to be the subject of a case study into the
effects of SCAD on residential land values for several reasons. First, it is one of the furthest of
SCAD's buildings from the Landmark Historic District, and is therefore isolated from the effects
of the tourism industry. Second, it is isolated from other SCAD buildings by several blocks,
helping to prevent overlapping effects. And third, the Cuyler-Brownsville neighborhood made a
fairly good comparison to the area around Wallin Hall, being nearby and free from any direct
:-. SCAD effects, with a similar housing stock, and similar
S. r." Figure 5.1, to the left, shows the locations of the
Stwo study areas, in relation to the downtown area. The
S* ." Landmark Historic District, considered Savannah's
S downtown core, is at the top of the map, while Forsyth
.. Park, which marks the edge of the Landmark District,
Locations of the Residental Study Areas. and the beginning of the Victorian District, is the long
rectangle in the center of the city grid. The primary
study area consists of 593 parcels within a 4-block radius of Wallin Hall (for ease of description,
this will be known as the "Wallin Hall Study Area"), and is on the right-hand side of the map in
Figure 5.1. The second study area, to the left (or west) is to be known as the "Cuyler-Brownsville
Study Area", and consists of 841 parcels in a 4-block radius of the intersection of 37h Street and
Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard. The 4-block radius was selected because four of Savannah's
city blocks are approximately one-quarter mile, a distance well within that range that studies
have indicated people will walk to reach work, school, or services. Analysis of demographic and
housing stock data from the 1990 United States Census shows that the areas, while not identical,
are fairly similar:
The population of the Wallin Hall area is 84% black, while Cuyler-Brownsville is
99.4% black. Chatham County overall is 35% black.
The per capital income level in the Wallin Hall area is $6,606; Cuyler-Brownsville's
per capital income is $5,473. Compare this to $12,759 for Chatham County.
The houses in both are older, with 51.8% of the Wallin Hall area's housing stock
dating from before 1939, while 45.7% of Cuyler-Brownsville's housing stock does.
In the Wallin Hall area, 79.5% of housing units are renter-occupied, while in Cuyler-
Brownsville, 74.9% of units are renter-occupied. This is compared to Chatham
County, in which only 44.9% of units are rentals.
Additional data comparing the two study areas is provided in Appendix 5.3. It should be noted
that this data was compiled from all the census block groups of which even a small part is in the
study area. In the case of Cuyler-Brownsville, there are seven block groups which included part
ofthe study area; in Wallin Hall, there are five. Additionally, the data is ten years old, dating
from the 1990 census; unfortunately, 2000 census data is not currently available. It would be
interesting to note the changes in demographics that have taken place in these study areas over
the past decade, but it is not possible, given the deadlines for this work.
Housing and planning researchers also must look at the other factors involved in property
values when performing any analysis on a neighborhood. Among those are the presence and
quality of schools, access to shopping, the presence of community institutions, and access to
transportation systems. It has been determined that the housing stock and demographics of the
two study areas were similar in 1989, prior to SCAD's rehabilitation and occupation of the
school now known as Wallin Hall. It is important, though, to look at the other differences and
similarities between the two neighborhoods, and to determine whether any major changes have
taken place in either study area, in relation to these other factors, that may have affected the
Both Cuyler-Brownsville and Wallin Hall have similar access to schools, and the
quality of their schools is rated fairly similarly by the Chatham County School Board.
It should be noted that the high school which students in the Wallin Hall study area
attend is located within the study area, making it within walking distance. However,
this school has been in the same location since 1989, so should not significantly affect
differences in property values.
The Wallin Hall study area is cut from north to south by Abercor Street, which has
been extended since the 1960s to the south to form Savannah's main modem
shopping district strip, on which all of the city's major malls are located. However,
this shopping area does not begin until two miles further along Abercom.
Additionally, a new Kroger shopping center was constructed during the 1990s,
approximately 10 blocks north of the Wallin Hall area. However, the relative
distances of these shopping amenities out of walking distance makes the two to
eight additional blocks that residents of Cuyler-Brownsville would travel to reach
* In reference to transportation systems, it would seem that Cuyler-Brownsville would
be more attractive to those who travel frequently, as the western edge of the study
area is approximately one-quarter mile from an entrance to a freeway-style access
road to 1-16. With the exception of the Abercorn Street Extension, Wallin Hall does
not have easy access to any major automobile transportation systems. Both
neighborhoods are served with similar bus access to the central business district.
* Both the Wallin Hall study area and the Cuyler-Brownsville area have a mixture of
historically minority, poor areas, and of wealthier, traditionally white areas. However,
the proportion of the Wallin Hall area that was middle-class (as evidenced by larger
lots and a slightly better housing stock) is greater than the proportion of Cuyler-
Brownsville dedicated to the middle-class. The reverse is also true that larger areas
of Cuyler-Brownsville are historically low-income minority areas, with smaller lots
and a poorer quality housing stock. This may make the area around Wallin Hall more
desirable to middle-class residents wishing to move closer to the city.
* The second edge that Wallin Hall would seem to have over Cuyler-Brownsville is the
presence of a greater number of community institutions in its midst. The Georgia
Infirmary, a non-profit hospital specializing in long-term elderly residential care, as
well as a high school and the main city library, are all within the Wallin Hall study
area. Although both neighborhoods are served by a similar number of churches, those
in the Wallin Hall area seem to be wealthier, larger, and better established. St. Paul's
Episcopal Church, especially, has done a great deal of rehabilitation work in the area,
including developing senior housing and affordable housing through the CHSA
program. However, all of these institutions were established prior to 1989, meaning
that their effect on property value increases over the past decade should be minimal.
Property Value Data
The property values for 1989 and 2000, as estimated by the Chatham County Tax
Assessor, for each parcel in these study areas was obtained from the Tax Assessor's Office.
Values for 1989 were collected from microfiche records held in the Chatham County records
office in the Chatham County Courthouse. Values for 2000 are available from the Tax
Assessor's public access website at http://www.chathamcounty.org. The Tax Assessor's office re-
appraised all properties in the study areas in spring of 2000, so there is no time lag on the recent
data. In addition, data on sales dates and prices through 1997 for all parcels in both comparison
areas was collected from the Chatham County Tax Assessor's Office through the Savannah Area
GIS (SAGIS) system. A brief comparison of the sales prices with the Tax Assessor's estimated
market values indicates that the Tax Assessor's data is fairly accurate and that, for the most part,
they were within a few thousand dollars of the actual market value. It must be noted that parcels
belonging to the City of Savannah, educational facilities, churches, and hospitals are tax-exempt
and were not re-appraised between 1989 and 2000, and therefore will have a property tax
increase of 0%. However, as these are often the most highly priced parcels in the study area, their
effective elimination from the statistical analysis prevents positive skewing towards higher
median values and standard deviations. Additionally, any parcel for which a 1989 or 2000 record
does not exist (due to a parcel split or merger) was treated as if there had been no property value
increase or decrease during that period, effectively removing them from the statistical analysis.
GIS Data Collection and Mapping
Essential Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data was obtained from the website of
the Savannah Area GIS organization (SAGIS). This website is located at http://www.sagis.com.
The data included the Chatham County Tax Assessor's database for 1997, and the related
mapping systems in ArcInfo. These mapping files were downloaded into ESRI's Arcview 3.1,
linked to the relevant database files, and processed.
Descriptive statistics of the demographic and case study data was obtained utilizing
Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet software. Inferential statistical analysis was performed using
SPSS statistical analysis software. Paired sample t-tests were performed comparing Cuyler-
Brownsville with the Wallin Hall Study Area the results will be outlined in Chapter 6 of this
Many claims have been made regarding the impact of the Savannah College of Art and
Design on the economy and urban fabric of the city of Savannah, and especially on its
Landmark and Victorian Historic Districts. It remains to be seen how each of these claims,
often made by SCAD itself or by its supporters, stands up to analysis. This chapter will
outlined the claims made by SCAD and the methods utilized to review each of these assertions.
A full discussion of the results and their implications will be provided in Chapter 7.
One of the claims made by many of SCAD's supporters is that it provides an
opportunity for the rehabilitation and reuse of the city's "white elephants" large older
buildings that have outlived their original purpose. This is undoubtedly true, as the college has
taken over 45 buildings scattered throughout the city, many of which were vacant until the
school took them over. These buildings include former institutional, industrial, and residential
properties, including some which were donated to the college in recognition of their ability to
make an impact on their neighborhood. Many residents feel that it would have been difficult to
find new industrial or residential uses for these structures, given the limitations of older
buildings. A university or college, like SCAD, however, has greater flexibility than most
offices or industries in their use of space, as classrooms, athletic facilities, libraries, design
studios, and administrative uses can often be fit into the varying spaces that older buildings
have to offer. Some examples of the adaptive reuse process are the Jen Library, a state of the
art library and computer lab retrofit into a large department store; the Eichberg Train Sheds,
design studio, classroom and computer labs fit into railroad warehouses; and Alexander Hall,
where the second story storage loft was subdivided into 100 square foot cubicles as studio
space for graduate students. Other examples are the reuse of motels as dormitories, a power-
generation station as a video production lab, and a radio station as administrative offices.
Although these buildings are all well-suited for their use as SCAD facilities, it is
difficult to see how they would be attractive to many other modem uses, as they are generally
extremely large, need a great deal of structural work, and tend to be in marginal areas of the
city. SCAD has been able to work around these limitations and create successful facilities from
Additionally, many of these buildings, especially those that were former industrial uses,
like the train sheds or the Neal Blun cabinetry factory, are brownfields sites. The liability and
precautions associated with potential pollution on those sites would frequently be enough to
deter any buyer who may need to do serious structural work on the buildings, or who may seek
to redevelop the property. However, since SCAD is able to simply retrofit the interiors without
doing significant structural work, or having to disturb the soil, they are able to take over the
buildings without many of the impediments that other potential purchasers would face.
Some critics, however, have questioned the benefit to the city of having these structures
removed from potential commercial or industrial uses that would generate tax revenue for the
city. In particular, when the Weston and Dyson House properties, combined worth $2.5 million
in 1997, were purchased for use as dormitories, some residents decried their removal from the
city's tax rolls. Others were quick to point out that even though they were modem buildings,
they were actually "white elephants", having never been very commercially viable in the first
place, given their location under the Talmadge Bridge.
While it does not seem that SCAD has yet begun encroaching upon Savannah's stock
of commercially, residentially or industrially viable structures, there is a question as to how
much longer this will be true. If the school continues to expand at their current rate, they may
very well start to prey upon buildings that have been slated by the city for other redevelopment
uses uses that would provide the city with property and sales tax revenue.
Many SCAD supporters also claim that the presence of SCAD's buildings and students
increase investment in marginal neighborhoods. Paula Rowan, one of the founders of SCAD,
contends, "People are fixing up buildings around our buildings; our buildings are large
centerpieces. So, as they go, the rest of the neighborhood goes" (quoted in Dean, 1992). One
of the biggest claims made by SCAD supporters, like planner Robert Brandes Gratz, is that
SCAD's buildings are numerous dispersed anchors for revitalization, seeding the whole city
(Gratz, 1998). Interviews with residents and city officials by the author indicated that there is a
widespread belief that students and faculty members frequently purchase houses or to locate
themselves in the neighborhoods immediately adjacent to SCAD buildings. The belief among
informants is that property values around SCAD buildings are rising, and that the location of a
college building is largely responsible for those raises. Kate Firebaugh, the manager of
SCAD's Design Group (their in-house rehab contractors) indicates she believes that, since
SCAD purchased the Neal Blun complex one year ago, property values in the area have almost
doubled. This has occurred even though SCAD does not plan to occupy the complex until
This attribution of rising property values to SCAD is difficult to prove, but a case study
of the area around one college building, Wallin Hall, was conducted. The reasons for choosing
Wallin Hall, and its comparison neighborhood, Cuyler-Brownsville, as well as the means of
selecting a sample and obtaining data on property values in the areas, are outlined in Chapter 5
of this paper. The relevant data can be found in Appendix 5.4. Analysis of the data yielded the
Mean property values within a four block radius of Wallin Hall have increased from
$46,992 in 1989, to $89,739 in 2000 an average increase of 90%.
Mean property values in the comparison neighborhood of Cuyler-Brownsville have
increased from $26,349 in 1989 to $37,808 an increase of 43%.
A t-test comparing the Cuyler-Brownsville neighborhood's property value
increases with those of the Wallin Hall area returns a t-test statistic of 7.788, far
more than the 1.96 needed to prove statistical significance. (See Appendix 6.1 for
Figure 6.1, to the left, shows the mapping of property
Value increases in the area of Wallin Hall. The SCAD
building itself is the bright yellow building in the center.
The darkest colors represent the greatest gains in terms of
property values, while the lightest colors reflect little or
-- no gain. It should be noted that many of the large parcels
Wallin Hall Study Area. See Appendix in this area are owned by the Georgia Infirmary, including
6.2 for map with legend.
the parcels immediately beside and above Wallin Hall, and therefore are tax exempt, and will
show no net gain or loss in property value. It is significant to note, however, that the greatest
concentration of high property value increases is in the area below Wallin Hall, and that they
typically taper off the farther the property is located from the Hall. A larger map, with a
legend, is available in Appendix 6.2.
In contrast, Cuyler-Brownsville has several areas in which property values have not
increased at all. In part, this is due to the renewal efforts of the city housing office discussed in
the Methodology, and to the resultant demolition of several dilapidated houses. However, this
demolition has affected very few parcels, and cannot explain the discrepancy between property
value increases in the Wallin Hall area and those in Cuyler-Brownsville.
Figure 6.3, to the left, shows the mapping of
.i property values in the Cuyler-Brownsville study area.
Note the concentration of the highest property value
increases to the right (east) side of the neighborhood,
Nearest to the Wallin Hall Study area. Again, a larger
map with legend is available in Appendix 6.3.
Cuyler-Brownsville Study Area. See A third point which must be made regarding
Appendix 6.3 for legend.
the differences between Cuyler-Brownsville and the
Wallin Hall area is that both were once proud of their local elementary schools, which served
as a focal point for the community. Note the two large light-pink parcels in the top left of the
Cuyler-Brownsville map. These show the location of the Florance Street school, which was
valued in 1989 at $577,400, very similar to the value placed on the school which became
Wallin Hall (valued in 1989 at $658,000). The Florance Street school was sold to a private
party for renovation, but has since suffered from disuse and disrepair. In 2000, it was valued at
$156,000 and the properties around it did not see the same type of value increase that those
around Wallin Hall did.
The positive and negative repercussions of the changes in property values caused in
large part by SCAD's presence in the Wallin Hall neighborhood will be addressed further in
Other SCAD supporters have claimed that SCAD's presence and the combined buying
power of the school, students and faculty has positively affected the commercial health of the
downtown business district. SCAD owns 13 buildings on downtown Savannah's three main
commercial streets, Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Bull Street and Broughton Street. These
buildings house several of the school's most important functions, including the admissions
office, the library, the design studios, and the bookstore. Their dormitories are, at most, three
blocks from any of these streets. That the school has some effect on the commercial vitality of
these streets is a reasonable assumption the question is how much of an effect they have.
Informants from the school have pointed to the recent rebirth of Broughton Street as a
shopping destination as a function of SCAD's presence in the city and on the street. To test the
claim that the school has had a major impact on the street, a random survey of merchants was
conducted. The results of this survey, and maps of the properties are included in Appendices
5.1 and 5.2. Of the 142 possible street-level establishments along Broughton Street from MLK
Jr. Blvd. on the western end to East Broad Street on the eastern end, 81 are occupied as retail
or restaurant establishments (including short-term loan facilities). Thirty-five possible
establishments are empty buildings or lots or are undergoing renovation or rehabilitation at this
time. This figure represents a vacancy rate of almost 25%, which is fairly high. The number of
those buildings that are currently under renovation, however, indicates that much of this
vacancy rate could very well be due to the changing nature of Broughton Street's retail
composition. The remaining 26 units are professional offices (including attorneys or doctors
offices), institutional uses such as SCAD's library and theater, or residential properties.
Short informal interviews were conducted with 46 of the 81 occupied retail
establishments along the street, asking how long they had been in that location, and how they
felt that the school and its students had affected their business and the area. Of these, only six
merchants stated that they received over 50% of their business from students. Three of these
opened within the past 10 months, including a futon store which opened a second location
downtown in order to attract more student business; a retro clothes and piercing store; and a
clothes and music catering to the club scene that opened next to Norris Hall. The others were
a 2 year-old bicycle shop; an art supplies store that opened ten years ago; and, oddly enough, a
century-old high-end shoe store. Three additional merchants, all restaurants and/or nightclubs,
said that they received 20-30% of their business from students. A few more restaurants, copy
shops and framing shops said that they received some business from students, but not a
The obvious conclusion from these interviews is that, if SCAD has had an impact on
Broughton Street, it has not been from the amount of business that an influx of students has
brought. However, the recent growth in student-oriented businesses could indicate a growing
trend among merchants to locate downtown in order to attract more students.
Respondents were also asked how they thought SCAD and its students had affected
Broughton Street as a whole. While many were reluctant to state that SCAD's presence had
had an impact on their own business, some did discuss the overall impact, stating that it had
been overwhelmingly positive. Many hire students as employees, and say that they provide an
excellent source of reliable workers. Others point to the fact that otherwise vacant buildings are
occupied and that the sheer physical presence of the students and faculty adds a vitality to the
street that attracts others who are more likely to spend money. Most agreed that the state of
Broughton Street was, in the words of one merchant, "pretty desperate" as recently as 1995.
One merchant, who had been on the street for 20 years, went so far as to say that the "students
single-handedly cleaned up the street so people will come back down here." The owner of the
Savannah Tea Room stated that when she renovated her building in 1996, her architect and
many of her subcontractors were SCAD alumni who had stayed in Savannah to work in the
restoration industry. Another former SCAD student opened an art gallery and framing shop on
the street in 1997.
A further discussion of the retail ramifications of SCAD's presence on and near
Broughton Street is contained in Chapter 7 of this paper.
We have set out to answer two questions in this work. First, what effect has the
Savannah College of Art and Design had on the revitalization of Savannah's Historic Districts?
Secondly, how might this model of a scattered site campus be used in other cities?
The evidence presented from the case study of the Wallin Hall neighborhood, along with
the anecdotal evidence and the literature showing that artists and students tend to be on the
leading edge of the urban homesteading movement, suggests that the presence of SCAD and its
over 5,000 students and faculty members has had an impact on the city's residential
neighborhoods. Property values and investment in the Wallin Hall area have increased
dramatically, while the Cuyler-Brownsville neighborhood, which was comparable to it only a
decade ago, has remained stagnant. These effects could come from a variety of sources
associated with SCAD, including an increased perception of safety. The investment and
maintenance which SCAD puts into Wallin Hall would also seem to indicate to current or
potential residents a willingness to invest in their neighborhood. Studies have shown that well-
kept buildings and yards can be contagious, spreading from one neighbor to the next, as each
seeks to capitalize on increasing property values. The third factor increasing property values
around Wallin Hall could be a very real desire on the part of students and faculty to live within
walking distance of the SCAD building in which they will spend most of their time, or within
walking distance of of a stop on SCAD's private bus route, which will allow them to access all
other classroom buildings easily. The map of the study area in Appendix 6.2, showing the
concentration of increased property values in the areas nearest the Hall, would seem to indicate
that this is true.
However, there are downsides to the increasing property values caused by SCAD, as
well. Critics have pointed to the rising rents in the Historic District and the Victorian District as
negative effects of the influx of temporary and permanent residents that the school brings. There
is no doubt, given the interviews conducted with developers and property managers, that SCAD
students are desirable tenants for low-rent apartments, even those subsidized by the city to
provide housing for low-income residents. In addition, realtors have confirmed that prices for
apartments in the downtown have outpaced general rent increases. In the early 1990s, rents in the
downtown area were far less than in the outlying suburbs; the reverse is true today, causing many
lower- and moderate-income residents to move into the suburbs.
Many in the minority community have lauded SCAD for the economic development
opportunities that it has brought to some marginal communities. W.W. Law, the President of the
Savannha-Yamacraw Branch of the Association for the Study of African-American Life and
History, has said that SCAD "is the most important thing that's happened in the inner-city
historic area in the last decade and a half." (quoted in Dean, 1992) Bill Stiles, an African-
American developer in the Cuyler-Brownsville neighborhood, agrees, stating that he tries to
intermix students with low-income tenants in his properties, because they take better care of their
apartments, bringing the appearance of the whole place up. One important factor in the
relationship between SCAD and the minority community also involves the rising property values
witnessed in the Wallin Hall neighborhood as the values rise, the owners of these properties,
many of them minorities, receive the benefits of increased equity in their homes. In addition,
proponents claim that students provide an important market for entrepreneurs in the
neighborhoods in which their buildings are located, although little empirical evidence is
available to support that claim.
This leads to the impacts of SCAD on the commercial vitality of the city. The
conclusion to be reached, at least in the case of Broughton Street, is that while SCAD's presence
does lend activity to the street, the student and faculty population does not seem to have a large
impact on the economic health of the individual businesses located on the street. Broughton
Street is currently undergoing a shift in the retail composition of the street, as evidenced by the
recent leasing of two rehabilitated retail spaces to GAP and Banana Republic, and the opening of
a Starbucks Coffee. Of the national chains, these stores are the ones that tend to be on the
forefront of the return to downtown, and their presence in Savannah will likely herald the
emergence on the scene of other national chains. The clothing outlets also tend to target students
and younger consumers, an indicator that SCAD's presence could very well be affecting their
location decisions. However, it is likely that the attraction of Broughton Street at the current time
is the tourist economy and the general economic health of the area, rather than SCAD and the
buying power of its students.
It could be argued that the very presence of the students on the street creates, in CPTED
terms, eyes on the street, and creates a perception of safety that draws others (Kraus' "risk-
aware" and "risk-averse") to Broughton Street to shop. Anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that
there is a perception that the downtown streets are safer because of SCAD's presence, and the
fact that their buildings are open 24-hours every day. Tourists, residents and employees of SCAD
have all indicated that they feel that the streets are relatively safe, and that there are only a few
sections of the downtown area that are not safe to go in at night. However, this may only be a
perception, and not reality, as the city's crime rate has, in contrast to national trends, risen over
the past year. Savannah's Creative Loafing magazine refers to crime in the area as "Savannah's
little secret". It is difficult to determine exactly what the causes of this crime wave may be,
although Creative Loafing credits much of it to apathy on the part of the city's leading residents.
In fact, the city's former police chief resigned in December of 1999, citing a lack of support from
the city for the measures needed to fight crime.
It seems that the school has not had an actual impact on crime in the city. Reiterating
CPTED principles put forth in Chapter 4 of this work, however, many security practitioners
argue that the perception of increased safety may actually be very effective in reducing crime.
The presence of additional "eyes on the street" in this case, those of SCAD students and
security personnel makes others feel secure enough to venture into the downtown area at night,
as well, increasing the activity on the streets, and reducing opportunities for unwitnessed crimes.
This will be true in both residential neighborhoods, like Wallin Hall, and on commercial streets,
such as Broughton Street.
Although it has been determined that SCAD's positive effects on Broughton Street tend
to be indirect, there is one negative impact that may be occurring that must be addressed. In his
work on retail composition, Duany says that American shoppers will "turn around and head back
to their cars rather than walk past fifty feet of blank wall (p. 168)." The presence of the Jen
Library on Broughton Street, then, could have serious repercussions for the commercial vitality
of the eastern end of the street. As the Maas Brother's Department Store, the library's pictures
windows would have been filled with displays that drew shoppers along the street from the main
intersection at Bull Street (see map in Appendix 5.2), and helped bring them to the shops on the
eastern side of the building, which takes up an entire city block. Today, however, the picture
windows are usually shielded by blinds, and where they are not, they give a glimpse of nothing
more exciting than chairs and shelves of books. This, in part, may help explain the lack of
activity on the eastern end of the street retail uses stop just about at the Jen Library. If they are
truly interested in the commercial health of Broughton Street, the school should consider
utilizing these picture windows to display students' artwork, which will draw visitors along the
building, and to the other side. Alternatively, the city should plan simply to make this end of
Broughton Street residential in nature. These units, whether houses or multi-family, should
appeal to residents who would like to be close to the street's retail and restaurant services, but
farther from the noise and traffic than the lofts on the western end of Broughton would offer. As
well, they could be marketed to SCAD students working at Norris Hall, at the intersection of
Broughton and East Broad.
One final claim made by SCAD supporters, which should be briefly discussed, is that its
scattered site campus form puts less stress on traditional transportation systems. Anecdotal
evidence is the primary support for this claim. A more comprehensive study of the transportation
and living patterns of SCAD students and faculty would be needed in order to determine exactly
how the school's effect on Savannah differs from that of more traditional campuses. However, it
is intuitive that the transportation patterns must differ, in that very little parking is provided for
students and faculty, and parking is already in short supply for the city as a whole. Students must
walk, bike or take SCAD's buses or public transportation in order to reach their classes or to run
errands, as the lack of parking makes traveling by automobile less of an option, and Savannah's
compactness makes the alternatives more attractive. This leads to an assumption that a scattered
site campus would be more successful in larger cities than Savannah when confined to a
neighborhood. In Savannah, it works because, even when walking, students who live in the area
will rarely have to travel more than 20 minutes between campus buildings (the length of a walk
across many university campuses). If commutes between residences and classes became longer
than this, even if by car or train, it is likely that a scattered site campus would be unpopular and
inconvenient to students and faculty. In cities like Philadelphia, for example, a scattered site
campus should be confined to a neighborhood about the size of Savannah's downtown area a
little more than a mile across.
The second question, that of whether or not SCAD's scattered site campus could (or
should) be duplicated in other cities, will be addressed further in Chapter 8. However, it should
be stated that the evidence of this work indicates that such a campus model could be utilized by
cities of all sizes, and by a variety of types of educational facilities. The benefits to other cities
increased investment in the inner cities (both residential and commercial);
adaptive reuse of white elephants;
a stimulation of their art and cultural scenes which will bring others to the city;
increased perceptions of safety on the part of current and potential residents and
an improved image for the city, on the part of residents, visitors and potential
residents, that is based on culture and an interest in learning as well as aesthetics;
and, finally, revenue from the presence of students and faculty that is more stable than
These are impacts that any city would be excited to have, and indeed, that most planners and city
officials are seeking. They would be worth subsidizing and encouraging the development of a
scattered site school, whether it is one of the new types of short-term or mobile educational
programs, a community college, or the downtown branch of a major university.
The Savannah College of Art and Design's scattered-site campus, was utilized by the founders as
a means of saving money during their early years. However, this type of piecemeal campus
development could serve as a model for the growth of new college and university campuses.
SCAD is, in essence, a partnership between a city and an institution of higher learning, from
which both can, and do, benefit. Savannah has received a new, "clean", industry, one with a
growing population of both consumers and employees, and a tremendous economic impact on
the city. Lee Adler may have been only slightly exaggerating when he said in 1992,
The headlines would be bigger than [they were at the beginning of] World War
II if the head of Savannah's development authority announced tomorrow that he
had brought in a new industry that had almost three thousand people
contributing a hundred million dollars a year to the city, and that it would
renovate more than thirty large buildings in the downtown (quoted in Dean,
Most cities are looking for exactly that type of industry, and despite the problems
associated with universities and their populations, are more than eager to have a new institution
of higher education locate in their community. However, the majority of new campuses locate on
the outskirts of the city, choosing a traditional campus design. Problems associated with this type
of campus are numerous, including the need to develop expanses of new land, the extension of
new infrastructure to the location, and the expansion of generally under-funded transportation
systems to cover the needs of faculty, staff and students. Additionally, development on the urban
fringe will inevitably lure new development, as apartments and houses are built for the new
population, and support services in the form of restaurants and shopping centers crop up around
the new campus. Current residents and retail establishments are lured out of the downtown and
older suburbs to the newer area, compounding both the problems of sprawl, and the decline of
Meanwhile, the new institution is faced with the costs of building an entire campus at one
time, including residences for students, a library, classrooms, and athletic facilities. They also
must create an infrastructure of roads, sewers and water treatment systems on the campus itself,
and maintain this infrastructure in perpetuity.
Contrast this with the growth of the Savannah College of Art and Design. The city has
received the benefit of a new institutional presence in the downtown area, filling a vacuum left
by the withdrawal of the historic institutions. Old buildings, which otherwise might have stood
vacant for many years, until they fell down or were torn down, are reused, allowing them to keep
the historic fabric which has attracted a booming tourist economy. New money is pumped into
marginal neighborhoods, as housing in the downtown area becomes more attractive to a greater
mix of residents, and a population of 5,000 students and faculty provide a market for downtown
merchants. And the city's utilities and transportation providers, rather than having to pay for new
infrastructure on the outskirts of the city, are able to receive funds from utility fees for the
school, and from increased property values, that allow them to upgrade the existing
In return, the college is allowed to grow at its own pace, acquiring buildings as the school
grows, and space is needed, and able to determine the best use for any given building as it is
acquired. They are freed from the need to maintain a campus, and the expenses for infrastructure,
and physical plant staff and equipment that a campus entails. Although SCAD does not utilize
the city's bus system for inter-campus transportation, other universities with scattered sites could
do so. A model program would be the partnership of the University of Florida and Gainesville's
Regional Transit System, which allows students to ride for free in return for a portion of the
In addition, in the case of SCAD, based in a very attractive city, the fact that the campus
is the city sets them apart from other art schools, or even other small colleges. They are able to
attract students because of the surrounding communities and the unique features of Savannah.
Other cities with less attractive downtown may need to find another feature that will set them
apart for the college population, or to attract a less traditional population. A junior college or a
branch of a major university could locate downtown in order to attract business workers to their
classes, as well as traditional students.
There are several elements that, from the Savannah perspective, would seem to be
important in sustaining a college or university in a scattered site setting. First is the ability to
traverse the city fairly easily, making it not overly difficult to get from one building to another.
Multiple transportation options would be essential, and should include buses, trains or trolleys,
walking and bicycling. Campus buildings should be within a fairly compact area, such as
Savannah's two square-mile historic districts.
The second element would be a stock of large commercial, industrial and residential
buildings that can be converted into other uses fairly easily, and for which there is little other
demand. A tight real estate market would make creation of a new campus out of rehabilitated
buildings prohibitively expensive in comparison with developing an all-new campus. As
SCAD's experience shows, the buildings used for the new campus can be in fairly marginal areas
of the city, as long as they are not overly isolated. Adequate security measures should be taken,