Utopian Visions of UMD


Digital Studio students were asked…

What if you could redesign UMD into your vision of a utopian campus.

Here’s what they would do:


20 thoughts on “Utopian Visions of UMD

  1. For my Utopia UMD campus, I decided to create a campus that is actually on the water. Each “school” is in a different “cabin-like” building, that are each on stilts over the water. To travel from class to class or to another building, you will have to take a paddle boat/canoe, which would be provided by the university. Inside each of the buildings it will look very “earthy” with trees growing through the floors and continuing through the roof. I also envision having a lot of windows; in some buildings actually replacing all of the walls with windows. It would also have a lot of extremely comfortable furniture, in the coffee shop to be particular, with a large (“real”) fireplace. My utopia UMD would be an extremely welcoming place, that almost feels more like a “getaway” place than a college.


  2. My UMD Utopia is completely on the water, on the West side of Park Point. To get to the campus you either have to go by watercraft or bicycle. The entire campus is environmentally sustainable, so it runs on solar, wind and wave power. The commons area where everyone can eat or hang out has a giant vegetable and flower garden in the middle, where all of the produce eaten on campus comes from.

    The four buildings are the School of Business and Economics, College of Science and Engineering, Humanities and Education, and the School of Fine Arts. In each building, each classroom has a view of the water in front and back of the room, so no matter where you’re sitting you can see the water. To get to the commons area you can use your own watercraft or hop aboard the UMD shuttle boats. All sports are obsolete except for water polo, fishing, and canoeing and kayaking, thus the lack of an arena or stadium. One can dream…


  3. My Utopian UMD is a version of the campus currently in existence, upgraded according to my personal tastes. The exterior of the building is surrounded by many more natural elements. Additionally, a few structures have been added to mimic European architecture. Also there is a graffiti wall for meaningful graffiti art. This wall has been visited by Banksy, who is one of my favorite artists. Additionally an Austrian street dancer has placed his mat in front of the building. The graffiti and street dancer encourage art forms aside from the typical drawing and painting taught at most universities.

    The interior has many plants to keep the school cheerful during the long winter months, and is also uplifting to those of us students who spend so much time at school that we rarely see the outdoors. The chairs are much more comfortable than the metal benches currently in the art department, and there are also tables for art students to gather around. The painted ceilings and sculptures mimic European design once again, and are meant to be inspiring to the art students. A poster is hanging on the door to notify students that UMD is once again offering classes in the darkroom, since they so tragically have strayed from that art form in recent years. Last but not least, I have also added a Whataburger to the art department. Although I don’t eat burgers, it serves to remind me of Texas, my other home that I miss so much.


  4. The essential element of my utopian UMD is quite functional. I have to commute to UMD everyday and everyone that attends UMD and has a car knows how difficult it is to find parking even when you have a parking pass and therefore my utopian UMD would have a parking ramp. Although this aspect of my utopian UMD is functional, the rest is purely aesthetic. Instead of having walkways outside there would be streams that are clean enough to swim in. Also, the grounds around the university would have only green grass and would have more flowers. Also, the outdoor lighting would look better then what is currently lighting our paths.


  5. The perfect utopian college campus with a central core. Logistically, this makes sense keeping every department and campus needs in one area. The central bubble is a mini community housing everything from nightlife to studying. The pods are where classrooms and labs will be held.

    Each floor is dedicated to one specific theme.The teal floor is an indoor, temperture controlled beach. The green floor is a landscaping and outdoor garden facility. The gold floor is dedicated tot thenight life of a college student with bars, deejays and the like. The blue floor is dining and cuisine. With a wide variety from fast food to classy restaurants that specialize in fine cuisine. The purple floor is a relaxing and lounging floor. There are plenty of couches, comfy chairs, coffee shops and even a spa. The maroon floor is the campus adminstration floor. Everything that you would need for financial, administrative, and resources can be found here.

    The concept of the pods of this campus are to house one department in each building. There is no need to be in separate buildings. All the classrooms, faculty and added extras are in one place. This makes it easier on students to go from one class to another in less time.


  6. My ideal utopia of the University is a campus that has a different location and different building layout. This building shown is near downtown and very close to the water and beaches of Lake Superior. This is one building of the campus that has many windows facing the water. My ideal campus would have every classroom has a clear view of downtown, including a view of the bridge. This campus is within walking distance to restaurants, coffee and ice cream shops, the Lakewalk, and the downtown shopping district. The campus itself is laid out in a practical way with departments grouped together, and a central courtyard and dining area that includes an outdoor patio that can be enclosed in the winter months. The walkways between the departments are also convertible outdoor/indoor, depending on the season.


  7. My ideal Utopian campus is one that is rich with historical architecture and set on, or near a body of water. The setting and event of something that is such, would make me WANT to go to school. Although displaying an “older” exterior, I would wish for all of the modern accoutrements. Furniture that would be comfortable and inviting, yet still play into a more classical sense would also be a necessity. Smaller class sizes in a larger work area would be ideal, but in a literal sense, classes would just be booked smaller in general. Personal work areas for each class would be set up as well. Personal drafting tables, easels, computer desks, and COMFORTABLE chairs would all be provided in areas that would require such necessities. The classes would all be ideally overlooking a body of water, if not an impressive landscape. I want the school, and the area to be an inspiration for learning and creativity, a source to draw from, not just an institution to learn in. And of course, on top of everything, a meal plan that is more diverse and included in with tuition! Convenience is key, but if “free” food is offered, I do not think that a bit of a walk would kill anyone.


  8. My ideal UMD campus would have a separate building for the art department. This building would be similar to the new business building with all the white walls and clean architecture. However, on my ideal campus the first level of this building would be the study/gathering area full of trees and plants. This jungle like area would be in the center of the building and extend up through all the floors. It would have large outstretching trees, perfect to climb in and study. Because I can’t study in silence and music tends to distract me, there would be a waterfall that would add relaxing, consistent ambiance noise, and the water element. To get to the different rooms on the first floor you would follow the trails instead of having hallways. Suspended walkways/bridges would connect rooms on the upper levels, so you walk through the trees and plant to get from one class to another. On the upper levels the trees and outside environmental feeling would still be apparent through large open windows but the classrooms would be clean and white as to not be too distracting. I think the connection to nature and presence of plants and water would make for a much more productive and enjoyable campus setting.


  9. For my Utopian UMD I created an image of a small section of UMD. I created a terrarium type feel in one of the UMD courtyards. I used inspiration from many different plants and natural elements to create a greenhouse type feel, that even in the middle of winter would be a warm outdoor area for students to lounge and study.

    I used different flowers to create a large archway that leads into the courtyard and used flowers to even create a natural type of garbage disposal that never needs to be emptied because garbage is naturally composed in it. I also used different flowering plants to create lanterns leading down the walkway and other flowers to create chairs that students could lounge in.

    In my Utopian university there would be architecture and furniture that was more based on natural elements.


  10. For my Utopian UMD, I designed a parking ramp that is very organic and colorful. Mixed with beautiful scenery and fragranced with fresh lilac, it is located up and away from the chaos of the city.
    As you drive up a petal of an iris into the parking ramp, you are given a countless number of parking spots where every spot is a good spot. You are then given the option of either taking a hot air balloon to your respective department or being a bit more adventurous and zip lining there!


  11. For my utopian UMD I focused upon the beautiful Lake Superior. I started by collecting architecture from different place and wonders around the world, to give UMD a more cultural background and more interesting façade. Around the building there is a casing that encloses the University and allows the weather to stay temperate year round, creating a paradise on the lake that is enjoyable in every season.


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