Is traditional undergraduate campus building space being made less necessary by online education? Yes.
The growth of online education is depressing the need for the brick and mortar of campuses just like online sales are reducing the need for retail space. In fall 2015 the scale of the undergraduate impact was 12 Arizona Statesor52 Harvards.
So far more than 23 million square feet of traditional campus space has been obviated by online education. This space is existing and unbuilt.
Existing – excess space that is no longer needed; and
The roles and responsibilities of a university architect ebb and flow with changes in administration and each particular project. When fast and cheap are valued, the role is to build short-term solutions. If investment in the future is intended a balance of stewardship and creativity is required.
Fluid Environments – Expectations vary for each campus and project. They swing through a wide range, project to project and campus to campus. This dynamic can make a university architect feel the need to be a like a chameleon, shifting from one context to another. In one setting the responsibilities are direct implementation according to established rules. In another, extensive consultation and consideration of long-term consequences are expected. Continue reading →
Jeanne Narum has changed conversations about pedagogy and place, teaching and architecture. Beginning with Project Kaleidoscope and now Learning Spaces Collaboratory she has fostered transformative and ongoing conversations improving pedagogy and the educational function of labs and classrooms. This goes far beyond the glitzy marketing photos and glib sales brochures. Her work has engaged a generation of academic leaders, teachers and architects in design thinking that makes campus matter.
Learning Spaces Collaboratory Webinars – Her current series of webinars is worth a serious look. They are organized for campus stakeholders around lessons learned throughout the country:
Investing in active learning classrooms
Developing a “space matters” culture
Dissolving boundaries between communities
Transforming through renovation and connections
The webinars build on a series of 2016 Roundtables on the Future of Planning Learning Spaces.
Year in, year out, Jeanne has focused on the needs of students and their teachers, all the while pushing planning and design professionals out of their comfort zones. This has been hard work, overcoming institutional inertia, promoting a design-thinking approach to pedagogy and challenging institutional and architectural paradigms. The results have been a generation of creativity in learning environments and encouragement for the kind of active learning that benefits both faculty and students. Without these efforts, the learning environments on the country’s campuses would be poorer – less supportive and less effective.
Here is a video from a recent informal conversation with Jeanne. She talks about the importance of cultural, pedagogical and spatial change, the support of the National Science Foundation and the histories of collaboration at the heart of Project Kaleidoscope and the Learning Spaces Collaboratory. In this informal conversation you can see why she has been such a successful agent of academic change.
Is it possible that online courses will have no impact on the future of the campus?
Let’s look at the data. More than 25% of college students are taking at least one course online. Paring that down to traditional 4-year undergraduates, the equivalent of more than 400,000 full-time students are not in the classroom. This is the equivalent of 8 Arizona State Universities or 40 Harvards. Continue reading →
Classrooms for active learning are strategic assets for the 21st century campus.
Even in the digital transformation of higher education there are three-dimensional classrooms – but not the usual types. Active learning spaces will be a competitive advantage since they support better educational outcomes than traditional methods. Realizing this potential will require a disruptive campus-wide approach to the design and management of classrooms.
In the emerging campus, lecture halls are used less and less used. At the same time there is increasing demand for active learning spaces – those places that allow students to interact with each other and their teachers. Continue reading →
What are the Uber or Airbnb equivalents of the university? These are the questions Tom Fisher thinks campus planners should be asking.
We are at the trailing edge of six decades of campus facilities expansion. The resulting mix of assets can be a rich foundation on which to rebuild and right-size sustainable institutions, or part of an unsustainable burden that helps to sink the rest.
In a recent interview, Fisher argued for rethinking many of the assumptions of the physical campus.
The campuses we have inherited are way too big. I know that seems odd, because when you are on a campus everyone is crying for more space, but we have a lot of highly specialized space that goes under-utilized…the faculty office being one of the more notable ones. Increasingly faculty are carrying their office in their laptop and cell phone. So this idea of having a room set aside for yourself is really antiquated. Classrooms are changing. They will still be used, but the whole campus is a teaching environment. The whole city and region is a learning environment.
Evolving cultural forces shape campuses generation by generation. In a recent conversation Dan Kenney, co-author of Mission and Place and I discussed these forces.
Founding campus visions may have defined an initial ideal core, but these institutions are not static. Demographic surges of post WWII, baby boomers, and their echoes have changed the functional scale of institutions. Suburbanization and the need for ubiquitous parking have pushed campus boundaries. Big science, big sport and their massive buildings have morphed the character and experience of campuses.
Dan has worked in this swirl of forces on more than sixty campuses. He believes in the continuing value of campuses and sees new opportunities in increasing environmental resilience and recognizing technological adaptation.
If the student is at the center of the higher education business model, the library is where she is sitting. The library is changing around her and her colleagues. Library leaders are transforming academic libraries into 21st century agoras – open meeting and working places – rather than gated cul-de-sacs for storing paper.
In the mid-20th century, a Military Industrial Complex developed to maintain the expansion of American military capability. At the same time, a Campus Planning & Building Complex developed to expand American higher education. Both worked well to produce more, and each benefited from an aura of self-fulfilling prophecy. Continue reading →
Early in 2015 I sat down with Duke Oakley to discuss the future of campuses. The result was a video in which Duke talks about the history and resilience, value and importance of campuses. He is most passionate in describing the role of the campus as a reference point for former students as they grow into positions of responsibility in civic affairs. He views the campus as a nearly ideal environment, an expression of what is possible.
“As former students deal with design and environmental issues, they will have in mind a time when they lived in an environment that cared about them, that supported them, that was a joy to be in. They will know it is not impossible. It is entirely possible. They will remember an environment that began to live up to the potential of all of our environments.”
Charles Warner Oakley is a graduate of Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania. From 1986 to 2000, he was Campus Architect and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Design and Construction at the University of California – Los Angeles. “Duke” as his friends and colleagues know him, is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and an Emeritus member of the Association of University Architects.