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 →
Pamela Delphenich and Steven Gift have been involved in planning campuses for decades. Both are now in private practice, but each invested formative years in caring for, planning and creating major campuses.
Pam was at Yale and MIT, Steve at Virginia Tech and the University of South Florida. Their subsequent private practices are as different as the geography and history of Yale and South Florida. Even so, care and regard, even a passion for campuses are clear as each talks about physical places and the community of students and faculty served and enabled.
In separate conversations Delphenich and Gift speak from the experience of hundreds, if not thousands, of discussions with students, faculty members and administrators about the choices that guide the evolution of a campus and its plan.
While immediate concerns may be about parking, building sites and project funding, the campus planner keeps sight of a longer time horizon. The unspoken assumption in each academic mission statement is that the institution continues forever. Caring for, planning and creating the future of campuses is work Pamela and Steven hold dear. It is no wonder so many have found them to be trusted advisors.
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.
Upon reading a recent piece entitled Campus Forever? by Michael Haggans in his blogCampus Matters, which discusses the future of the college campus and the question of its continuing relevance, I was thrown into a reverie of memories of and emotions about the phenomenon of campus as I considered the importance in my life of this environmental phenomenon. The blog article Campus Forever? had posed the question “Will your college campus be around forever?” to several different college alumni. Being understood that, in this human world, forever is probably not achievable, to me the question becomes: “Can any particular campus last a very long time into the future?” This makes me want to take a look at the past for some guidance on the possibilities. In considering the continuing existence of any particular college campus – as a college campus – the continued existence of the institutions themselves is obviously a threshold issue. Continue reading →