LAFAYETTE — A master plan that will guide the future growth of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette over the next 15 years is now under development by Architects Southwest.

The plan is expected to be complete by mid-December and focuses on development of the main academic campus and the commons area, which includes the research park, athletic complexes and intramural fields, explained Architect Southwest’s Steve Oubre.

Potential uses for Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center will also be part of the master plan, ULL President Joe Savoie said in an email Thursday.

The St. Landry Street hospital, for sale for $36 million, will be vacated Saturday with the official opening of the new Lourdes hospital in south Lafayette on Saturday morning.

The property’s location — between ULL’s main campus and its property south of the academic campus including the research park and athletic complexes “offers some strategic opportunities to bring the campuses closer together,” Savoie said.

“If the conditions are right, it would be an obvious advantage to the university to secure the property,” Savoie stated.

RCLCO — a national real estate consultant firm — is conducting an analysis of potential mixed-use development to create a research village in the university’s commons area.

Think of a mixed-use neighborhood — like Lafayette’s River Ranch — but instead of houses serving as the anchor, substitute public and private sector research buildings, Oubre explained.

Housing and commercial development are part of the research village concept, too, and will be explored, as well, he said.

“They’re going to be testing and evaluating what market potential do we have with that property to be working in concert with research,” Oubre said.

Oubre cited the University of South Carolina’s Innovista and North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus as examples of research villages.

Innovista boasts single-family homes, apartments and townhouses in a neighborhood setting alongside research industry and retail development.

The Centennial Campus tenants is a mix of governmental, corporate and nonprofit centers. Residential and retail units are also available. The campus also is a venue for community-wide events and features walking trails, a lake with a fishing pier and a public golf course.

Architecture and design students who are part of the university’s Community Design Workshop have also been part of the process since last spring, said Tom Sammons, ULL architecture professor, and workshop director.

Students will continue to gain experience through the project with oversight by Architects Southwest, Sammons said.

As part of the project, an urban code for the university will be developed that standardizes future development from signage to the architecture of new buildings, Oubre said.

Between now and December, charrettes — sessions with specific stakeholder groups to discuss the design and receive feedback — are planned. A charrette open to the general public is scheduled over a 10-day period in October.

Prior to that, sessions with the university audience are scheduled in August followed by a separate session with business and civic leaders to “test out” some potential retail and commercial concepts, Oubre said.

“It will be a very engaged process,” Oubre said. “We want input from everybody.”