Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

New Metrics for the New Normal: Rethinking Space Utilization within the University System of Georgia

Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

New Metrics for the New Normal: Rethinking Space Utilization within the University System of Georgia

Article excerpt

The UGA System's new space planning approach groups spaces with similar functions into buckets, greatly reducing required measurements, while providing new options, particularly for classroom and social spaces.

1.0 INTRODUCTION

1.1 PROBLEM STATEMENT

Orthodox considerations of college and university space depend on the idea that institutional space can be divided into distinct categories and square footage needs within each of these categories can be computed using normative formulae based on unitized square footage standards.

Our professional experiences challenge these traditional notions--two of us (Janks and Lockhart) are consultants working with a national cross section of institutions of higher education and the third (Travis) directs all physical planning activities (including space planning) for the 35 [1] institutions within the University System of Georgia (USG).

Because of increased pressure to find high-value capital investment opportunities within a climate of declining state support, dissatisfaction with the availability of relevant data to inform management decisions, challenges with integrating space planning components within institutional master plans, and perceived discontinuity between master plans and resulting capital projects, the USG chancellor launched an initiative to rethink the system's approach to space utilization through a study with six pilot institutions.

The goal was twofold: to create a process that is understandable, easy to implement, and less prone to distortion than existing techniques and to formulate a methodology for measuring the utilization of space to guide space management and capital allocation decisions for individual institutions and the system as a whole. This necessitates a methodology that operates at a strategic level; one that complements, rather than replaces, the more detailed studies typically undertaken by individual institutions during the programming and designing of facilities. We sought an approach that will enable senior officers to make straightforward apples-to-apples comparisons between institutions seeking funding for capital improvements by better

* comparing space utilization and productivity at USG institutions requesting funds for capital improvements;

* understanding when detailed building condition assessments may be warranted;

* identifying deficiencies that can be corrected with reallocation, repurposing, or renovation of existing space;

* determining which capital improvement projects are appropriately funded with general obligation (GO) bonds, public-private ventures, and other funding sources; and

* establishing priorities among projects proposed for funding. This article outlines our methodology.

We sought an approach that will enable senior officers to make straightforward apples-to-apples comparisons between institutions seeking funding for capital improvements.

1.2 LIMITATIONS OF ORTHODOX APPROACHES

1.2.1 SPACE CLASSIFICATION

Traditional space planning methods divide college and university spaces into distinct categories at the level of individual rooms based on the room's primary use using the Postsecondary Education Facilities Inventory and Classification Manual (FICM) (Cyros and Korb 2006). The major space types are classrooms; laboratories (including teaching labs, open or computing labs, and research labs); offices; study (including library); specialized (a non-thematic collection including athletics, animal, clinical, greenhouse, demonstration, and other spaces); general use (predominantly student-life spaces including assembly, exhibition, dining, lounge, merchandising, and recreation); support (including parking structures); health care; and residential.

The primary challenge in applying FICM classifications is determining what code to assign to a given room. Often rooms that look alike and seem very similar in function are coded differently. …

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