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Articles: Campus Construction

All offices involved in student success are now, for the first time, housed together in the new 230,000-square-foot University Crossing student center. The building also links the South, North and East campuses with the city’s downtown business district and cultural attractions.

More than two thirds of administrators surveyed say they expect to start or complete a major renovation project in 2015. (Click to enlarge)

In many ways, 2015 will look a lot like 2014 with respect to facilities. But there are trends impacting the creation and use of physical space on virtually every college and university campus. Institutions will be curbing new construction activity, getting creative about funding, paying more attention to overdue maintenance, and planning more for mixed-use facilities.

The R.W. Kern Center at Hampshire College will become the main point of entry onto campus for prospective students.

R.W. Kern Center at Hampshire College (Mass.)

When this two-story, 15,000-square-foot facility opens in 2016, it will become the main point of entry onto campus and the first stop for prospective students. Besides the admissions office, it will house classrooms, meeting spaces, a bookstore and a cafe.

The encouraging sounds of construction will be heard on many campuses in 2015, but funding shortages will force some institutions to scale back building plans, according to a UB survey of higher ed facilities managers.

Nearly four in 10 respondents expect to break ground on a new facility in 2015, while more than one-third say a new facility will be completed. And seven in 10 reported that a major renovation project would be launched or completed.

Higher ed thought leaders and reader surveys provide insights into what's ahead for colleges and universities in 2015.

To help our readers navigate the coming year in higher education, University Business proudly presents Outlook 2015. In-depth stories cover the major trends impacting administration and management, enrollment and retention, finance, facilities, technology, and teaching and learning. We interviewed administrators and other experts in each of these topics to capture their predictions about what 's on the horizon for colleges and universities.

For years, universities have taken advantage of an insurance solution known as Owner-Controlled Insurance Programs (OCIPs) or “wrap-ups.” OCIPs provide general liability insurance and workers compensation for the length of a construction project for all or a majority of the parties involved rather than requiring each participant to be responsible for the procurement of insurance. OCIPs are used on large individual projects or on a “rolling” basis by aggregating smaller projects completed over time. A well-run OCIP can save a university 1-1.5 percent of hard construction costs.

The contemporary campus recreation center has graduated from yesterday’s dingy weight room. In fact, at many institutions, the rec center serves as a multipurpose space, hosting celebrations on special occasions and promoting student wellness in body and mind throughout the semester.

The needs of those who work and learn in institutions of higher education require environments that reflect their preferences and culture more than ever before. That’s why experiential branding and wayfinding have become integral parts of an institution’s architectural expression. While the brand—the story of who you are and why you exist as an institution— builds distinction (beyond curriculum choices) in the marketplace, wayfinding serves to direct, inform and inspire.

Increasing enrollment is a priority for many institutions. The race is on to create a marketplace distinction in order to attract new students and to retain current students. As if this challenge weren’t enough, colleges and universities are faced with rising costs, reduced endowments and smaller budgets. As campus leaders look for ways to leverage their resources and still accomplish their enrollment and growth goals, one viable strategy is to recognize the role that physical facilities have on student attraction and retention.

In the business world, products sometimes price themselves out of the market and provide an opening for competitors.

Capital fundraising retains a top slot among institutional fundraising priorities due to renovation and construction imperatives, new program requirements and the need to update technology. In addition to broader capital campaigns and a razor-sharp focus on major donors, more institutions are seeking support from the business sector.

Mercer University Bears football fans who enter the Macon, Ga., campus through the Stadium Drive entrance now pass the school’s new fountain and surrounding rain garden. The garden, which is 1.5 acres, is not only attractively landscaped—it serves a dual purpose by collecting rainwater runoff from nearby parking lots.

Challenge 

The former tension pond near Mercer’s football stadium had been built to code to control runoff but was unattractive and occupied a lot of space, says James Netherton, executive vice president for administration and finance.

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.

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