We are excited to hear that MSU wants to revitalize Romney Oval. Though the grassy space stretching from Gaine s Hall to Renne Library is currently used as a bypass between classes, a creative facelift could transform the area into a center of student activity on campus.
In March, university planners presented three concepts that were developed in consultation with a professional architecture firm. After an informal community poll, planners recommended ‘Concept C,’ which features symmetrical pathways and retains the existing flagpole, to the president.
While there’s nothing wrong with the plan, we would like to offer our own student-created proposal for MSU’s consideration. This option takes the university’s plan as a framework and incorporates several new features, each conceived with student use in mind.
Our concept attempts to balance structures for directed activities with a landscape that also encourages creative or leisure uses. Among the highlights:
– Brick sidewalks that provide direct routes between buildings, covering existing “cowpaths” created by students rushing between classes.
– Raised grassy berms around the flagpole for warm-weather lounging — a naturalistic companion to the grass platform near Montana Hall popular as a place to relax or do homework.
– Outdoor classroom space in the quiet area between Traphagen and Reid Hall, as well as a terraced amphitheater similar to that in current plans.
– Native species garden beds near the SUB and Gaines to celebrate Montana’s natural heritage and provide an educational element.
– Space for outdoor public art near the entrance to Romney Gym, and a mulched slackline area east of AJM.
– Benches at the north pathway intersection and tables on the SUB patio area.
The concept contains natural and synthetic features that would make Romney Oval an ideal outdoor space for students to learn or relax. We hope MSU’s planners will consider integrating some of them into its long-term plan for the area.
The Editorial Board would like to thank Landscape Design student Hannah Marvyl Pearce for creating the concept plan for the Exponent.
High resolution download: Romney plan (concept by Hannah Pearce).