SCUP Excellence in Planning for New Campus,
Universidad del Istmo, Guatemala for Universidad del istmo Master Plan with Sasaki Associates, Inc.
The purpose of the plan is to create a new campus and consolidate the school, currently dispersed throughout Guatemala City, and provide for its long-term development. The university’s mission is to prepare extraordinary professionals, with a deep commitment to society, rooted in a humanitarian worldview, with a keen appreciation of interdisciplinary learning.
A flexible program and phasing strategy allows the campus to grow organically, matching building and space resources with progressive enrollment. An integrated building site complex is a model for restoration and sustainable redevelopment of the agricultural landscape characteristic of this region of Guatemala.
The jury remarked, “ . . . it is elegantly simple . . . a very strong plan . . . they created a heart, a centerpiece, and purposefully focused things around the soul of the campus . . . cleverly woven, right in the middle . . .”
The plan responds to site context through conservation and development strategies, including continuation and restoration of existing natural ecosystems: Mediterranean pine reforestation, extension of forested prairie in the elevated plateaus, and conservation of wetlands, open springs and streams as part of the larger watershed in the valley.
The plan concentrates development in two areas: the main campus, elongated over the site’s upper plateau, and the university hospital and research complex, positioned over the site’s lower plateau, separated from the campus by ravines and the valley.
The campus is organized as a linear structure of buildings clustered around courtyards and patios, interconnected by colonnades. It is conceived as a compact “village on a hill” surrounded by a unique natural setting.
In phase one, academic programs and support areas are brought together into three flexible buildings, until academic department complexes are built around them and their spaces are reclaimed for academic support uses. Sharing space among faculties provides an interdisciplinary experience, helping the transition into a new pedagogic model. As the campus extends into academic neighborhoods, instructional, research and student life spaces will continue to be shared, promoting the same interdisciplinary collaboration.
“The plan proposes an effective strategy for site development and implementation that enhances the site's natural properties without sacrificing the educational mission. With the heart in place, the rest of the university will grow in an organic manner, retaining its origin as a key part of its heritage,” says Manuel Perez Lara, president of the university.
Project Team: Universidad del Istmo, Guatemala with Sasaki Associates, Inc.