Is space the final frontier?

Perhaps. But unlike the seemingly endless expanse of the universe, physical or built space on college campuses is a limited resource. When optimized, it has the potential to be a strategic asset. Well programmed campuses can be a powerful tool to support the mission and goals of the institution rather than merely warehouse faculty, staff, and classrooms.

Higher education institutions are confronted with many challenges: adapting to changing pedagogies, financial pressures and meeting the expectations of faculty and students. In response they must ensure that physical campuses provide an effective learning environment for students, are efficient and financially responsible with budgets, and support efforts to attract and retain the best faculty.

In the earliest days, university campuses provided students a place to learn (classroom or lecture hall), a place to study (library), and a place to eat and sleep (dormitories). Professors could expect an office for student meetings, preparation, and research. The modern campus has undoubtedly evolved beyond those basics and will continue to do so, but how?

In an era of unprecedented change and advancing education technology (MOOCs*, virtual reality, online curriculum); what is the role of the college campus and its assortment of spaces? Fundamentally the campus enables individuals to come together to research, educate, learn, and work in ways that are less effective if done remotely or in isolation. The campus, therefore, acts as a magnet, attracting a breadth of disciplines, skills, and generations to create a community of academics and learners. Campuses connect people.

From a campus master plan to a building, down to the rooms within, the design can enable or hinder interaction –formal or serendipitous– and interaction over time is what creates connection.


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