Western Illinois University Quadcities Riverfront Campus


2017 Merit Award


Moline, IL


20 Acres


Western Illinois University / Holabird & Root



Landscape Architects

Project Details

Western Illinois University Quad Cities, located in Moline, Illinois, sought to grow significantly and transform its identity as a satellite campus into a fully-functioning, autonomous campus. The University received a 20-acre land grant and state funds to develop a new Mississippi Riverfront property located on a former railroad brownfield site. The new riverfront location provided the University with a unique and exciting opportunity to develop an urban campus that could help revitalize the surrounding area, tie into downtown Moline, and become part of a new riverfront district along the Mississippi River.

To support the desired growth, all of the existing facilities would need to more than double in size, while introducing and expanding student services, campus life, recreation, and academic support facilities. Expanding upon the Master Plan and core project principles, site design group, ltd. and team leader Holabird + Root developed the site into a cohesive campus through the careful siting of buildings, functional and organized circulation systems, and flexible, multipurpose exterior spaces. Site improvements respond to the riverfront context and provide opportunities for gathering, activity, teaching, and respite.

The site plan creates a strong formal campus presence through a central campus axis that provides visual and physical access to the Mississippi River.

Sustainability was an important project goal, exemplified through permeable pavement walkways and parking lots, bioinfiltration planting areas, and a diverse, four season native and adapted planting palette. Another goal of the development was to balance the cut and fill on site. Portions of the property were remediated and capped, while soil was relocated in strategic locations, using gently rolling topographical landforms to frame views to the river throughout a lawn and prairie restoration between campus buildings and the river edge. The resulting design creates a seamless, engaging, and functional landscape with sweeping riverfront views.

Western Illinois University’s Quad Cities Riverfront Campus is a sustainable and functional campus that is strongly rooted in its context and an excellent demonstration of efficient use of space and budget. Since it opened in 2014, the campus has succeeded in establishing a new identity to the 20-acre campus, and a new destination for the Quad Cities community, supporting 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students through a cohesive riverfront campus.

Project Team

Project Team: Holabird & Root; McClure Engineering Associates; Bush Affiliates

Parties Involved in Prior Master Plan: Holabird & Root

Products Used in the Built Project: Unilock (Pavers); Kafka Granite (stabilized crushed granite)

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