The land for the Downtown Campus was purchased in 1975. The college was seen as an opportunity to eliminate an area that was considered a major slum by the city's leaders. Development plans called for phased construction. Phase one would include the construction of a 305,000 square foot complex featuring an auditorium, TV studio, bookstore, food services, a student lounge, library, conference rooms and 1,000 parking spaces. Dedication for this phase was held on August 15, 1977.
This aerial image illustrates the size of FCCJ's campus in relation with the Downtown area. It also shows what was eliminated to make room for the college.
Downtown Campus Directory
The Advanced Technology Center (above) is a specialized 125,000 square foot facility used for teaching technical topics such as network technology, automotive repair, natural science labs, etc. The $30 million dollar facility opened in 2002.
The Martin Center (below) is home to the central administrative functions of the college. The $4.8 million, 78,000 square foot administration building was completed in 1982. It is adjacent to Cancer Surviors Park. The one acre park is the result of a donation from Richard and Annette Block, the "R" in H & R Block.
With proper urban planning, FCCJ could become a stronger driver of economic development. Currently, the vibrant atmosphere of the Downtown Campus is completely cut off from its surroundings.
Iron fencing separates the campus from the nearby Rosa Parks/FCCJ Skyway station. To access the campus, one must walk either a block to the east or west.
The blocks between the heart of downtown are separated by social services, parking garages, vacant lots and high vehicular traffic corridors. This lethal combination results in a setting that limits walkability and connectivity with the urban core surrounding the campus. It is also creates a visual imprint of the area that is damaging to the college's image.
Despite being adjacent to Springfield and Downtown, FCCJ's stretch of Laura Street is dominated by a series of surface parking lots.
Future Expansion Plans
As FCCJ continues to prosper, expansion is expected to push east towards Laura Street. While the campus master plan illustrates a long term vision that does not embrace connectivity, every effort should be taken by the college, city, and nearby neighborhoods to ensure that proper integration takes place.
Photo article by Ennis Davis