Campus Planning at a Breakpoint

Students going upIn 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

Future of the Campus in a Digital World

2 by 1 by 3As the need for synchronous place and time evaporates, the physical campus must provide values that are not available by other means. Campuses need to be transformed as if their survival were at stake.

Future of the Campus in a Digital World. is my assessment of the state of the campus at the close of 2014.  It is in the form of a 10 page pdf.  I hope you will share it with your colleagues and let me know your thoughts.

Campus Forever?

Northrup reversedIt is hard to find anyone who thinks his or her own undergraduate campus will cease to be.  It is as if these places will go on forever.

At a recent SCUP conference I asked attendees to tell me why their campus would or would not exist in 2040.  One said their campus would morph into a “multi-purpose innovation / business / research park”.  All the rest said their campus would survive – at least until 2040.

The reasons fell into four categories:  too big to fail, enough demand, adaptable enough and unique mission.  Can this be right?

To survive, campuses must be more than a collection of familiar physical artifacts and stage sets for live action reality shows. Continue reading

To Build, or Not to Build

UMN.vert.cropUniversity presidents and provosts are always faced with the choice of staying the course or modifying the trajectory of their institutions.  Due to failing business models, rapidly evolving digital competition and declining public support, the stakes are rising.  Some are asking how they should think about the campus built for the 21st century.

My first draft of recommendations:

  • Build no net additional square feet
  • Upgrade the best; get rid of the rest
  • Manage space and time
  • Measure productivity
  • Right-size the whole
  • Rethink
  • Take sustainable action
  • Make campus matter

Continue reading

The Paradox of the 21st Century Campus

UT stepsMany worry that traditional higher education is over valued yet also believe that there is something of lasting worth in the shared experiences of campus life.   This is the paradox of the 21st century campus:  feeling the need for “campus” while technological and pedagogical realities are moving higher education away from the campus. Continue reading

Campus Sustainability: Compromised by Space and Metrics

Every college and university claims to be striving to be sustainable.  Two significant obstacles stand in the way:  too much space and ineffective management practices.

The most sustainable building is the one that is never built.  Unfortunately, most institutions continue to build space they don’t need and can’t afford.  Even if these buildings are at the cutting edge of sustainable design, institutions are increasing their carbon footprint problem.  Having more bricks than necessary is expensive, regardless of how good those bricks are.

Everyone wants more space, but only occasionally is that appropriate and sustainable.  Two articles in the SCUP journal Planning for Higher Education provide insight into these dynamics.  Space and Power in the Ivory Tower, by Sandra Blanchette, identifies the challenges in achieving effective space management in the political milieu of the university.  New Metrics for the New Normal, by Gregory Janks, Mel Lockhart and Alan Travis, identifies the limitations of current space allocation guidelines.  Together they describe an environment with inadequate tools and ineffective decision-making. Continue reading

Trajectory – 2

Most higher education capital plans for facilities are little more than politically correct prioritizations of departmental wish lists.  Funding opportunism has long trumped budgetary discipline.  Four cycles of facilities expansion have left most institutions in an unsustainable position – more space than they need and more than they can afford to operate and maintain.  Just now digital transformation is bringing this into focus.  How did it come to this? Continue reading