Magazine article University Business

New Visions for Campus Space

Magazine article University Business

New Visions for Campus Space

Article excerpt

Picture it: Faculty no longer get their own offices and libraries have vanished. Dorm rooms come standard with private bathrooms and maid service, and terrazzo tile has replaced carpeting as the new standard flooring across college campuses. Sound ludicrous? Maybe not. While such a transformation certainly wont be complete in 2016, big changes are coming, say facilities industry leaders. Shifts in use of space, dorm amenities and construction materials and a few key ones.

Here's a closer look at what facilities department leaders are talking about at the start of 2016.

Building automation

Changes to building operations systems will continue to come fast and furiously. The Internet of Things is where much of the buzz is, says E. Lander Medlin, executive vice president of the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers (APPA).

In the last 20 years, the internet got people talking to more people digitally. But in the next 20 years, we'll see increased communication between machines. This increased automation will make it possible for building equipment to report needed repairs or to order parts required for maintenance.

For now, this can be seen mainly in the use of sensors that can turn room lights off and on without human intervention.

Security, meanwhile, continues to garner attention as violence on campus and elsewhere generates headlines seemingly every week. Universities have invested in high-tech surveillance cameras, redesigned outdoor spaces to limit access and overhauled landscaping to reduce potential hiding spots, says Michael Owens, executive producer of the annual Higher Ed Facilities Forum.

Video analytics is another rising star, taking video input and helping to identify security threats without the need for 24/7 eyes-on from campus police, says Owens. While this technology has been around for several years, it's starting to make in-roads on campuses.

Facilities pros becoming more tech-savvy, valued

Increased reliance on these systems means facilities professionals must develop a more in-depth understanding of technology than they had just 10 years ago, says Medlin.

"The required skill set is changing based on construction and what needs to be replaced," she says. As older buildings are razed or renovated, new technology is being added to aid in systems management--technology that facilities staff members must then learn to manage and maintain.

But that can be easier said than done. Training facilities staff members on advanced technology can be a challenge as the workforce ages.

There's a realization by college and university officials that real estate is their largest asset--and facilities teams are getting a seat at the table in high-level discussions about upkeep, renovation and replacement, says Owens.

The changing classroom

Faculty members will continue to move toward small group work and collaboration, and away from standing in front of the room delivering lectures to large classes of students. More instructors want classrooms with structural flexibility and internal adaptability. But this necessitates bigger classrooms, believe it or not. Instead of 12 to 20 square feet needed per student in traditional classrooms, new collaborative spaces require 35 to 45 square feet per student, says Mark Maves, chair of the Academy Council at the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) and principal at Learning & Discovery, a planning and design studio.

Collaboration will also impact housing design, as more campuses create living-learning environments, explains Maves. In the interests of retention and community building, schools are building and renovating residence halls that bring together students with similar interests.

Some campuses are creating "makerspaces," or hands-on innovation labs, where students can attack a problem, work cross-functionally with other departments, and create something physical or digital. …

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