Magazine article University Business

Shuttered Islands: Showing a Campus When Buildings Have Closed

Magazine article University Business

Shuttered Islands: Showing a Campus When Buildings Have Closed

Article excerpt

The combination of the campus expansion boom of the past decade and the recent flattening of enrollment rates continues to create a significant backlog of deferred maintenance at many institutions, according to the most recent annual "State of Facilities in Higher Education" report from Sightlines, an education facility assessment consultancy. And that backlog is leading to some campus buildings being shut down rather than fixed.

Campuses have become less dense than in the past, with classroom utilization rates between 50 and 60 percent, the report also finds.

Despite a rise in new construction over the past few years, many institutions still have significant space that was constructed during the 1960s and '70s, a period of rapid college growth marked by an abundance of poorly constructed buildings. These increasingly obsolete structures now make up a large portion of deferred maintenance needs, putting administrators in a bind: Expend capital resources to maintain outdated, inefficient and half-empty buildings, or swallow the significant costs of demolition and removal?

Some colleges choose to simply shutter older structures and let them sit unoccupied. And although that course might provide a financial solution for the school, a boarded-up building in the middle of campus can be a challenge during tours. …

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