You are here

Articles: Campus Construction

The future Lassonde Studios at The University of Utah.

A 148,000-square-foot facility at The University of Utah combines 412 residences with a 20,000-square-foot “garage” space for students to build prototypes and launch companies. The University of Nevada, Reno Student Achievement Center will bring together academic and other services now scattered across campus.

Part of a master plan for an athletic corridor on the east side of Creighton University’s campus in Omaha, Nebraska, the new 43,000-square-foot Championship Center is located near stadiums and courts where the big games are played.

CU’s nationally-ranked NCAA Division I men’s basketball team will now practice in the same facility where other student athletes train.

This six-story, 114,700-square-foot mixed-use building will house the health and computer science programs and serve as a campus gateway when it is completed in July 2015.

Funded by $36.9 million in state bonds, the facility was designed by Gruskin Group (N.J.), which also worked on the Green Lane building, a gateway to the opposite end of campus that has similar exterior finishes.

Getting tripped up on the latest accessibility standards when planning or renovating campus buildings—and then having to make costly changes later—is hardly a project team’s idea of a good time.

Regardless of function, many of the facilities completed within the past year on college and university campuses were designed to create connections. These buildings may help campus groups and departments collaborate, or they may enhance town-gown relations.

Linking the facility to other parts of campus through a deliberate architectural feature is another way project planners are focusing on connections. Find out how each of the following six new buildings is bringing people together.

Old meets new at the McKinnon Center for Global Affairs, a 40,000-square-foot facility that was formerly known as the 100-year-old Johnson Hall at Occidental College (Oxy) in Los Angeles.


Politics, foreign languages and other global affairs-related majors are some of the Oxy’s most popular fields of study, but there hadn’t been a centralized location for these students and faculty, says Derek Shearer, director of the McKinnon Center.

Of all the new ideas bubbling to the surface in building state-of-the-art science centers, the one theme that was constant across all Inside Look submissions was creating spaces that foster collaboration—both among students and teachers within a specific science, as well as across all science disciplines. One school even calls its science center a “collaboratory.”

Center for Communications and Creative Media (CCM)

Champlain College (Vt.)

Planned occupancy: August 2015

Design: ColinLindberg Architects (Burlington, Vt.)

Wrapped in bowed glass, the building’s first three floors give passersby a full view of events and activity going on inside.

People walking past 160 Massachusetts Ave. in Boston are likely to both see and hear beautiful music being made. That’s the point of this 14,000-square-foot addition to Berklee College of Music.

The future Public Safety Institute at Eastern Florida State College.

Public Safety Institute

Eastern Florida State College, Melbourne campus

Planned occupancy: February 2015

Design: BRPH (Melbourne, Fla.)

The $13.2 million, 66,500- square-foot facility—featuring a mock jail cell and mock courtroom—will provide training for law enforcement officers, corrections officers, firefighters and others in public safety roles. School officials are seeking funding for three additional buildings for the campus.

The top trend in college performance spaces today is the flexibility being built into them. From adjustable walls and seating that can accommodate a variety of performance types to acoustics that adapt to handle everything from African drums to an orchestra, theaters are expected to match specific events.

“We see more and more educational users asking for fully flexible ‘black box’ type spaces, where the stage and seating can be rearranged for each production,” says Robert Shook, founding partner at Schuler Shook, a Chicago-based theater planning consultancy.

Located in the heart of campus at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont, the 40,000-square-foot Dion Family Student Center offers a centralized space, housing a variety of student services. Nearly half the student population can access the center right from their dorms.


Students had used the Alliot Student Center, built to serve less than 900 students, since 1961. Full-time enrollment is now approaching 2,000. Alliot also didn’t provide much beyond a dining hall and bookstore.

Construction budgeting software allows Southern Methodist U to maintain a digital record of projects and ensure future projects have adequate funding for site development and other line items.

A Midwestern state university budgeted about $12 million for a major addition to its library several years ago. At the time, there was not a tightly controlled project planning process at the institution and the library’s plaza—already a major central gathering space on campus—was not included in the project budget.

Sidewalks weren't part of the construction project budget for the Hurvis Center at Lawrence U, but that piece was still planned ahead, through a local landscaper.

In some cases, colleges and universities will opt to fund some site development items, such as landscaping, as an operational cost instead of a capital cost.

But the decision depends on owner needs and should still be made in advance, during the budgeting process for the entire project. Here’s how two institutions have approached the decision:

Similar to their corporate counterparts, institutions of higher education have to operate in a fiscally responsible manner, which means managing budgets and achieving bottom line results. While there are many factors that contribute to success in this arena, the recent decline in state support for higher education is making it more difficult for colleges and university to grow and thrive. Today’s reality is that reduced funding puts more pressure on colleges and universities as they compete for limited dollars.