UCF was founded on June 10, 1963, and opened in 1968 as the Florida Technological University with the mission to provide support to the growing U.S. space program on Florida’s Space Coast. In January 1964, the Board of Regents purchased 1,000 acres of remote forest and pastureland as the site of the new university. An additional 200 acres were donated by locals. In 1965 the preliminary master plan for what would become the University of Central Florida was developed by Associated University Architects, led by James Gamble Rogers II, Lovelock and Fritz.
Time and distance criteria were paramount in the design of the campus master plan. The campus plan is arranged around a spacious circular form to ensure the grouping of academic neighborhoods and human resources while employing the economic advantages of a compact campus layout, utility distribution, and building operations and maintenance.
The first building built on the campus was the library as it was thought to be the center of the academic universe for both faculty and students. Pedestrian traffic, parking, and the introduction of a large community student population were also key in maintaining the plan’s established time-distance-convenience criteria. A pedestrian island serves as the core with access roads, parking areas, and loading/unloading stations strategically located at four locations allowing short walk times to grouped academic buildings. Pedestrian arteries meander through the academic core and converge upon a pedestrian boulevard highlighted by the library at the center, and administration, student center, and auditorium buildings on each spoke.
The master plan also addresses the natural beauty of the site building on only 190 acres and preserving and enhancing the natural landscape.
At its opening, the university had 1,948 full-time students. The 1965 plan established a goal to grow to 15,000 students by 1978. Today, UCF is the second-largest public university in the nation with 68,442 students, 12,000 employees, and an operating budget of $2 billion.