@FrankCunhaIII Speaking at EAST COAST GREEN on June 21, 2019 About Sustainability at College Campuses #UniversityArchitect #Campus #GreenArchitect #Eco #ilmaBlog

Network, Learn, & be Inspired by the Living Building Challenge certified Willow School, hosting AIA-NJ’s 9th annual East Coast Green conference 6/21.

Want to see a rainwater catchment system that flushes all toilets, solar energy that provides 100% of a building’s power, healthy materials, design for optimal daylight and fresh air and a sustainable managed site that includes a man-made wetland to treat all waste onsite and a lush variety of gardens instead of lawn?

4 Education tracks in Energy, Human Experience, Materials, and Certifications provide continuing education credits throughout the day. Join us and mingle with Architects, Interior Designers, Engineers, Building Owners, Contractors and related industry professionals.

Local/organic breakfast, lunch and evening reception with open bar (beer/wine) included! www.eastcoast-green.com Sponsorship and registration available!

Click on the links below for more information about East Coast Green

Speakers: https://eastcoast-green.com/speakers 

Schedule of Events: https://eastcoast-green.com/schedule/


CELS Earns Honorable Mention Among @USGBCNJ Gala Award Winners – 2019

NEWS – The U.S. Green Building Council New Jersey Chapter (USGBC NJ) celebrated nine New Jersey-based projects at its Annual Awards Gala. The Gala took place on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at the LEED registered Hyatt Regency, New Brunswick, NJ.

Each year, USGBC NJ recognizes and presents these distinguished awards to companies and individuals that have demonstrated outstanding achievement and best practices in green building and sustainability.

“The Annual Awards Gala is a stellar event,” said USGBC NJ Board Chair Daniel Topping, Principal with NK Architects. “It is our opportunity to celebrate innovative green New Jersey projects, while networking and financially supporting the mission of USGBC NJ. This year’s winners are exciting and inspiring. They range from corporate campuses, higher education facilities, sustainably built residential projects, a comprehensive green cleaning initiative and an urban resiliency park.”

This year, USGBC NJ’s Gala celebrated the following Award Winners (click for list of winners).

Honorable Mention

Included as an honorable mention was the Center for Environmental and Life Sciences (CELS) facility, a 107,500 square foot, LEED® Gold–certified science facility devoted to environmental and pharmaceutical life sciences research.  CELS enables Montclair State University’s College of Science and Mathematics (CSAM) to build on its collaborative culture combining strengths across disciplines and building research programs of exceptional power. In the process, Montclair State University demonstrates that it can make a large impact on the advancement of science and technology, especially in the sustainable use of natural resources and improved human health. The building comprises of a comprehensive array of laboratories, seminar rooms, classrooms, and other facilities that enable collaborative transdisciplinary research in the pharmaceutical life sciences and environmental sciences. It joins three existing science buildings around a “learning and discovery landscape” to give science research a high-visibility position on the campus.

The Project Team

  • Montclair State University Project Manager: Frank Cunha III, AIA
  • Architect of Record: The S/L/A/M Collaborative, Inc.
  • Engineer of Record: Vanderweil Engineers
  • Contractor: Terminal Construction Corporation
  • LEED Consultant: Green Building Center – New Jersey
  • Commissioning Agent: NORESCO

Some of the LEED-specific features include:

  • Both bus and rail transportation options within a half-mile walking distance.
  • The building is situated on an area that was previously developed.
  • The site is near to basic services such as places of worship, a convenience store, day care center, library, park, police department, school, restaurants, theaters, community center, fitness center, and museums.
  • A green roof with sedum mats is located above the second floor. This absorbs stormwater, restores habitat, adds insulation to the building roof, and provides a scenic study site and retreat for building occupants.
  • Exterior landscaping includes water efficient plantings and two rain gardens in front of the building.
  • A 35 percent reduction of water use in flush & flow fixtures.
  • Separate collection of refuse and recyclables with color-coded storage containers to avoid contamination of the waste stream.
  • Smoking is prohibited in the building and within 25 feet of entries, outdoor intakes and operable windows.
  • The building is mechanically ventilated with CO2 sensors programmed to generate an alarm when the conditions vary by 10 percent or more from the design value.
  • The design outdoor air intake flow for all zones is 30 percent greater than the minimum outdoor air ventilation rate required by ASHRAE Standard 62.1-2007, Ventilation Rate Procedure.
  • Lighting controls include scene controllers and occupancy sensors for classrooms, conference rooms and open plan workstations, with task lighting provided.

Further reading about the facility:

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


What Will Higher Education Look Like 5, 10 or 20 Years From Now? Some Ways Colleges Can Reinvent Themselves #iLMA #eMBA #Innovation #Technology #Planning #Design #HigherEducation #HigherEd2030 #University #Architect

Introduction

Change is a natural and expected part of running a successful organization. Whether big or small, strategic pivots need to be carefully planned and well-timed. But, how do you know when your organization is ready to evolve to its next phase? Anyone that listens, watches, or reads the news knows about the rising cost of higher education and the increasing debt that education is putting on students and alumni and their families.

At a time when education is most important to keep up with increasing technological changes, institutions need to pivot or face imminent doom in an ever increasing competitive environment. Competition can come from startups or external factors in the higher education market therefore it is increasingly necessary for institutions of higher learning to take a different approach to their business operations.

This post will focus on:

  • Current Trends
  • Demographic Shifts
  • Future of Higher Education (and impacts on University Facilities & Management)
    • Changing Assumptions
    • Implications for the Physical Campus
    • Changing Trajectory
    • More Trends in Higher Education (Towards 2030)
  • Driving Technologies
  • External Forces

Current Trends

  • Online education[i] has become an increasingly accepted option, especially when “stackable” into degrees.
  • Competency-based education lowers costs and reduces completion time for students.
  • Income Share Agreements[ii] help students reduce the risk associated with student loans.
  • Online Program Manager organizations benefit both universities and nontraditional, working-adult students.
  • Enterprise training companies are filling the skills gap by working directly with employers.
  • Pathway programs facilitate increasing transnational education[iii], which serves as an additional revenue stream for universities.

Demographic Shifts

According to data from the National Clearinghouse and the Department of Education[iv]:

  • The Average Age of a College/University Student Hovers Around Twenty-Seven (Though That Is Decreasing as The Economy Heats Up)
  • 38% of Students Who Enrolled In 2011 Transferred Credits Between Different Institutions At Least Once Within Six Years.
  • 38% of Students Are Enrolled Part-Time.
  • 64% of Students Are Working Either Full-Time or Part-Time.
  • 28% of Students Have Children of Their Own or Care For Dependent Family Members.
  • 32% of Students Are from Low-Income Families.
  • The Secondary Education Experience Has an Increasingly High Variation, Resulting In Students Whose Preparation For College-Level Work Varies Greatly.

Future of Higher Education (and impacts on University Facilities & Management)

The future of higher education depends on innovation. 

University leaders who would risk dual transformation are required to exercise full commitment to multiple, potentially conflicting visions of the future. They undoubtedly confront skepticism, resistance, and inertia, which may sway them from pursuing overdue reforms.[v]

Change is upon us.

“All universities are very much struggling to answer the question of: What does [digitization[vi]] mean, and as technology rapidly changes, how can we leverage it?” . . . . Colleges afraid of asking that question do so at their own peril.”[vii]

James Soto Antony, the director of the higher-education program at Harvard’s graduate school of education.

Changing Assumptions

Until recently the need for a physical campus was based on several assumptions:

  • Physical Class Time Was Required
  • Meaningful Exchanges Occurred Face to Face
  • The Value of an Institution Was Tied to a Specific Geography
  • Books Were on Paper
  • An Undergraduate Degree Required Eight Semesters
  • Research Required Specialized Locations
  • Interactions Among Students and Faculty Were Synchronous

Implications for the Physical Campus

  • Learning – Course by course, pedagogy is being rethought to exploit the flexibility and placelessness of digital formats while maximizing the value of class time.
  • Libraries – Libraries are finding the need to provide more usable space for students and faculty.  Whether engaged in study, research or course projects, the campus community continues to migrate back to the library.
  • Offices – While the rest of North America has moved to mobile devices and shared workspaces, academic organizations tend to be locked into the private, fixed office arrangement of an earlier era – little changed from a time without web browsers and cell phones. 
  • Digital Visible – From an institutional perspective, many of the implications of digital transformation are difficult to see, lost in a thicket of business issues presenting themselves with increasing urgency. 

Changing Trajectory

University presidents and provosts are always faced with the choice of staying the course or modifying the trajectory of their institutions.  Due to failing business models, rapidly evolving digital competition and declining public support, the stakes are rising.  All should be asking how they should think about the campus built for the 21st century.[viii]  J. Michael Haggans[ix] makes the following recommendations:

  • Build no net additional square feet
  • Upgrade the best; get rid of the rest
  • Manage space and time; rethink capacity
  • Right-size the whole
  • Take sustainable action
  • Make campus matter

More Trends in Higher Education (Towards 2030)

  • The Rise of The Mega-University[x]
  • ; Public Private Partnerships (P3’s) Procurement Procedures Will Become More Prevalent
  • More Colleges Will Adopt Test-Optional Admissions
  • Social Mobility Will Matter More in College Rankings
  • Urban Colleges Will Expand[xi] — But Carefully
  • Financial Crunches Will Force More Colleges to Merge
  • The Traditional Textbook Will Be Hard to Find; Free and Open Textbooks
  • More Unbundling and Micro-Credentials
  • Continued Focus on Accelerating Mobile Apps
  • Re-Imagining Physical Campus Space in Response to New Teaching Delivery Methods
  • Transforming the Campus into A Strategic Asset with Technology
  • Education Facilities Become Environmental Innovators
  • Ethics and Inclusion: Designing for The AI Future We Want to Live In
  • Visibility (Transparency) And Connectedness
  • Sustainability from Multiple Perspectives
  • Better Customer Experiences with The Digital Supply Chain
  • Individualized Learning Design, Personalized Adaptive Learning
  • Stackable Learning Accreditation
  • Increased Personalization: More Competency-Based Education They’ll Allow Students to Master A Skill or Competency at Their Own Pace.
  • Adaptation to Workplace Needs They’ll Adapt Coursework to Meet Employer Needs for Workforce Expertise
  • Greater Affordability and Accessibility They’ll Position Educational Programs to Support Greater Availability.
  • More Hybrid Degrees[xii]
  • More Certificates and Badges, For Example: Micro-Certificates, Offer Shorter, More Compact Programs to Provide Needed Knowledge and Skills Fast[xiii]
  • Increased Sustainable Facilities – Environmental Issues Will Become Even More Important Due to Regulations and Social Awareness; Reduced Energy Costs, Water Conservation, Less Waste
  • Health & Wellness – Physical, Spiritual and Metal Wellbeing
  • Diversity and Inclusion Will Increase
  • Rise of The Micro-Campus[xiv] And Shared Campuses[xv]
  • E-Advising to Help Students Graduate
  • Evidence-Based Pedagogy
  • The Decline of The Lone-Eagle Teaching Approach (More Collaboration)
  • Optimized Class Time (70% Online, 30% Face to Face)
  • Easier Educational Transitions
  • Fewer Large Lecture Classes
  • Increased Competency-Based and Prior-Learning Credits (Credit for Moocs or From “Real World” Experience)[xvi]
  • Data-Driven Instruction
  • Aggressive Pursuit of New Revenue
  • Online and Low-Residency Degrees at Flagships
  • Deliberate Innovation, Lifetime Education[xvii]
  • The Architecture of The Residential Campus Will Evolve to Support the Future.
  • Spaces Will Be Upgraded to Try to Keep Up with Changes That Would Build In Heavy Online Usage.
  • Spaces Will Be Transformed and Likely Resemble Large Centralized, Integrated Laboratory Type Spaces. 
  • Living-Learning Spaces in Combination Will Grow, But On Some Campuses, Perhaps Not In The Traditional Way That We Have Thought About Living-Learning To Date.

Driving Technologies:

  • Emerging Technologies – Such as Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, And Artificial Intelligence – Will Eventually Shape What the Physical Campus Of The Future Will Look Like, But Not Replace It.[xviii]
  • Mobile Digital Transformation[xix]
  • Smart Buildings and Smart Cities[xx]
  • Internet of Things
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI), Including Natural Language Processing
  • Automation (Maintenance and Transportation Vehicles, Instructors, What Else?)
  • Virtual Experience Labs, Including: Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality Learning, And Robotic Telepresence 
  • More Technology Instruction and Curricula Will Feature Digital Tools and Media Even More Prominently
  • New Frontiers For E-Learning, For Example, Blurred Modalities (Expect Online and Traditional Face-To-Face Learning to Merge)[xxi]
  • Blending the Traditional; The Internet Will Play Bigger Role in Learning
  • Big Data: Colleges Will Hone Data Use to Improve Outcomes

External Forces:

  • [xxii]: Corporate Learning Is A Freshly Lucrative Market
  • Students and Families Will Focus More on College Return On Investment, Affordability And Student Loan Debt
  • [xxiii]
  • Greater Accountability; Schools will be more accountable to students and graduates
  • Labor Market Shifts and the Rise of Automation
  • Economic Shifts and Moves Toward Emerging Markets
  • Growing Disconnect Between Employer Demands and College Experience 
  • The Growth in Urbanization and A Shift Toward Cities 
  • Restricted Immigration Policies and Student Mobility
  • Lack of Supply but Growth in Demand
  • The Rise in Non-Traditional Students 
  • Dwindling Budgets for Institutions[xxiv]
  • Complex Thinking Required Will Seek to Be Vehicles of Societal Transformation, Preparing Students to Solve Complex Global Issues

Sources & References:


[i] Online education is a flexible instructional delivery system that encompasses any kind of learning that takes place via the Internet. The quantity of distance learning and online degrees in most disciplines is large and increasing rapidly.

[ii] An Income Share Agreement (or ISA) is a financial structure in which an individual or organization provides something of value (often a fixed amount of money) to a recipient who, in exchange, agrees to pay back a percentage of their income for a fixed number of years.

[iii] Transnational education (TNE) is education delivered in a country other than the country in which the awarding institution is based, i.e., students based in country Y studying for a degree from a university in country Z.

[iv] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://er.educause.edu/articles/2019/3/changing-demographics-and-digital-transformation

[v]Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://ssir.org/articles/entry/design_thinking_for_higher_education

[vi] Digitization is the process of changing from analog to digital form.

[vii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019:  https://qz.com/1070119/the-future-of-the-university-is-in-the-air-and-in-the-cloud

[viii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: http://c21u.gatech.edu/blog/future-campus-digital-world

[ix] Michael Haggans is a Visiting Scholar in the College of Design at the University of Minnesota and Visiting Professor in the Center for 21st Century Universities at Georgia Institute of Technology.  He is a licensed architect with a Masters of Architecture from the State University of New York at Buffalo.  He has led architectural practices serving campuses in the US and Canada, and was University Architect for the University of Missouri System and University of Arizona.

[x] Article accessed on April 16, 2019:  https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/Trend19-MegaU-Main

[xi] Article accessed on April 16, 2019:  https://www.lincolninst.edu/sites/default/files/pubfiles/1285_wiewel_final.pdf

[xii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://www.fastcompany.com/3046299/this-is-the-future-of-college

[xiii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://www.govtech.com/education/higher-ed/Why-Micro-Credentials-Universities.html

[xiv] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://global.arizona.edu/micro-campus

[xv] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://evolllution.com/revenue-streams/global_learning/a-new-global-model-the-micro-campus

[xvi] Article accessed on April 16, 2019:  https://www.chronicle.com/article/The-Future-Is-Now-15/140479

[xvii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019:  https://evolllution.com/revenue-streams/market_opportunities/looking-to-2040-anticipating-the-future-of-higher-education

[xviii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://www.eypae.com/publication/2017/future-college-campus

[xix] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://edtechmagazine.com/higher/article/2019/02/digital-transformation-quest-rethink-campus-operations

[xx] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://ilovemyarchitect.com/?s=smart+buildings

[xxi] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2018/04/college-online-degree-blended-learning/557642

[xxii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://qz.com/1191619/amazon-is-becoming-its-own-university

[xxiii] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://www.fastcompany.com/3029109/5-bold-predictions-for-the-future-of-higher-education

[xxiv] Article accessed on April 16, 2019: https://www.acenet.edu/the-presidency/columns-and-features/Pages/state-funding-a-race-to-the-bottom.aspx

We would love to hear from you about what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,

FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


AIA/ALA’s 2019 Library Building Awards Includes 2 Higher Education Projects #HigherEd #University#Architect #Design #Libraries #CampusPlanning #University #Architect #ilmaBlog

Every year, the AIA is proud to partner with the American Library Association / Library Leadership and Management Association to honor the best in library architecture and design.

The AIA/ALA Library Building Award is the only award that recognizes entire library structures and all aspects of their design.

This year’s award includes two college/university libraries:

Barnard College – The Milstein Center

Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM)

Owner: Barnard College

Location: New York

Colorado College Tutt Library Expansion and Transformation

Architect: Pfeiffer

Owner: Colorado College

Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado

Click here to see all the award winners.

We would love to hear from you about what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,

FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


What About Public Private Partnerships? #ilmaBlog #HigherEducation #P3 #PPP #University #Architect

Example of Stakeholder Team (Source: Servitas)

Background on Public Private Partnerships (P3’s):

Many institutions of higher education are facing mounting pressure on their mission to deliver high-quality, affordable education to students and perform world-class research. Reductions in public funding support and concerns about overall affordability present substantial near-term and longer-term budget challenges for many institutions.

Public institutions are predominantly affected, having been constrained by suspensions or reductions in state funding. State appropriations across the US grew by just 0.5% annually between 2005 and 2015. State funding has still not recovered to 2008 levels, the last year in which state funding decisions would not have been affected by the Great Recession.

(Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) — state appropriations revenue divided by total fall enrollment, 2005–15)

Public-private partnership models are continuing to proliferate as cash-strapped colleges and universities seek to replace or update aging and outdated infrastructure amid tight finances.

(Source: Proliferating Partnerships)

What is the P3 Delivery Model?

A public-private partnership, or P3, is long-term agreement between a public entity and a private industry team that is tasked with designing, building, financing, operating and maintaining a public facility. The past decade has seen a steady increase in the use of P3 structures, both inside and outside higher education. In 2016, something of a watershed year for P3, multiple high-profile projects came online in response to a variety of public needs, including a $1-billion-plus water infrastructure project servicing San Antonio, and a $300-million-plus renovation of the Denver International Airport’s Great Hall.

(Source: A Few Lessons About Public-Private Partnerships)

“Public” is a non-profit institutional or governmental entity that engages a “private” for-profit entity to pay for a particular project.

The “private” partner provides funding (and often expertise) to deliver (and often operate) the project used by the “public” entity to meet its purposes.

In return for its capital, the “private” entity gets a revenue flow from the asset it has paid for.

(Source: Should your University enter into a Public/Private Partnership – the Pro’s and Con’s)

The emergence of the P3 option is happening where it matters most: projects that would be otherwise unattainable under the traditional public-improvement delivery models. For instance, 10 years ago, only a handful of higher education P3 projects were up and running; today, we are approaching three dozen such projects.

The biggest challenge is, of course, the financing component, but P3 teams bring much more to the table than money — they give public entities access to expertise and innovation that can add significant value to projects at each phase of development.

(Source: A Few Lessons About Public-Private Partnerships)

Motivations for P3 transactions vary widely, but include:

  • Supplementing traditional debt instruments. These include private capital, using off balance sheet or alternative mechanisms.
  • Transfer of risk. Historically, universities have born all or most of the risk of facilities-related projects themselves. A P3 is a way to either transfer or at least share the risk.
  • Speed and efficiency. A P3 allows for a faster development process, and time to completion is generally shorter and on schedule. The sole focus of the private entity is to complete the project on budget and on time. University infrastructure tends to have competing priorities across all-campus facility needs.
  • Outsourcing provision of non-core assets. Outsourcing allows institutions to focus investment of internal resources and capabilities on those functions that are closer to the academic needs of its students.
  • Experience. Private partners often have much more experience and skills in a particular development area (e.g., facility architecture and infrastructure, student housing needs) and are able to better accommodate the needs of students, faculty, administrators, etc.
  • Planning and budgeting. Private partners offer experience and know-how in long-term maintenance planning and whole life cycle budgeting.

(Source: Public-private partnerships in higher education What is right for your institution?)

The four types of P3s:

  • Operating contract/management agreement. Short- to medium-term contract with private firm for operating services
  • Ground lease/facility lease. Long-term lease with private developer who commits to construct, operate and maintain the project
  • Availability payment concession. Long-term concession with private developer to construct, operate, maintain and finance the project in exchange for annual payments subject to abatement for nonperformance
  • Demand-risk concession. Long-term concession with private developer to construct, operate, maintain and finance the project in exchange for rights to collect revenues related to the project

Pro’s and Con’s of P3’s:

Since their emergence in student housing several years ago, P3s have become important strategies for higher education institutions because of the many benefits they offer, including:

  • Lower developer costs
  • Developer expertise
  • Operational expertise
  • Access to capital
  • Preservation of debt capacity
  • More favorable balance sheets and credit statements
  • Risk mitigation
  • Faster procurement and project delivery (It can typically take a university about 5 years to get a project built. With a P3, that process can be reduced to just 2 years. Additionally, P3s can save approximately 25% in costs compared to typical projects.)

Beyond the above, the indirect advantages of P3s in student housing are numerous, such as they:

  • Provide better housing for students
  • Expand campus capacity
  • Create high-quality facilities
  • Expand the tax base for both a city and county
  • Provide an economic boost to surrounding areas, which likely lead to private growth and other improvements

It is important to note that, while there are many benefits of P3s for higher education institutions, these agreements also have disadvantages that need to be considered, including:

  • High cost of capital
  • Reduced control for the university
  • Complexity of deals
  • Multi-party roles and responsibilities
  • Limitation on future university development

(Source: Student Housing A Hot Sector For Public-Private Partnerships)

A LOOK AHEAD

Where Are We Heading?

  • More political involvement and pressure to consider P3
  • Pre-development Risks – Many projects failing to close
  • Issues with Construction Pricing & Labor Shortages
  • An increasing number of developers are getting in the on-campus business; however, developers are being more strategic on which projects/procurements to respond to
  • Exploration of other sources of funds like tax credits, USDA, and opportunity zones
  • Shared governance continues to grow
  • Larger, more complex P3 projects including long term concessions, availability payment models, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • Bundling of Procurements (food, housing (including faculty), academic buildings, hotel, energy, facility maintenance, etc.)

Further Reading:

We would love to hear from you about what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,

FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


THE SPIRIT OF CAMPUS DESIGN: A reflection on the words of Werner Sensbach #Campus #Planning #Design #University #Architect

Montclair State University
Photo Credit: Mike Peters

In 1991, Werner Sensbach, who served for over 25 years as Director of Facilities Planning and Administration at the University of Virginia, wrote a paper titled “Restoring the Values of Campus Architecture”. The paragraphs that follow were excerpted from that article. They seem particularly appropriate to Montclair State University as it looks at its present campus facilities and forward to the planning of future facilities on a piece of land of spectacular beauty.

Nearly two thousand years ago, the Roman architect Vitruvius wrote that architecture should provide firmness, commodity, and delight. It is the definition of “delight” that still troubles us today. This is especially so on college campuses. Many who try to give voice to what it is that brings delight in a building or an arrangement of buildings may mention the design, the placement on the site, the choice of building materials, the ornamentation, or the landscaping. But mostly it’s just a feeling, or a sense that things are arranged just right, or a sensation of pleasure that comes over us. So academics, like nearly everyone else, often are unsure when planning for new campus construction about what is likely to be delightful. Even though the United States has 3,400 colleges, while most other advanced nations only have a few dozen, we simply have not developed in the United States a sensibility, a vocabulary, a body of principles, an aesthetic for campus architecture.

That each campus should be an “academic village” was one of Thomas Jefferson’s finest architectural insights. Higher learning is an intensely personal enterprise, with young scholars working closely with other scholars, and students sharing and arguing about ideas, religious beliefs, unusual facts, and feelings. A human scale is imperative, a scale that enhances collegiality, friendships, collaborations on research.

I believe the style of the campus buildings is important, but style is not as important as the village-like atmosphere of all the buildings and their contained spaces. University leaders must insist that architects they hire design on a warm, human scale. Scale, not style, is the essential element in good campus design. Of course, if an inviting, charming campus enclosure can be combined with excellent, stylish buildings so much the better.

The third imperative for campus planners, the special aesthetic of campus architecture, or the element of delight, is the hardest to define. It is the residue that is left after you have walked through a college campus, a sense that you have been in a special place and some of its enchantment has rubbed off on you. It is what visitors feel as they enjoy the treasures along the Washington Mall, or others feel after leaving Carnegie Hall, Longwood Gardens in southeastern Pennsylvania, Chartres Cathedral, the Piazza San Marco in Venice, or the Grand Canyon.

On a college campus the delight is generated by private garden spaces in which to converse, by chapel bells at noon or on each hour, by gleaming white columns and grand stairways, by hushed library interiors, by shiny gymnasiums and emerald playing fields, by poster-filled dormitory suites, by a harmony of windows and roofs, and by flowering trees and diagonal paths across a huge lawn. The poet Schiller once said that a really good poem is like a soft click of a well-made box when it is being closed. A great campus infuses with that kind of satisfaction.

In my view, American’s colleges and universities—and especially their physical planners—need three things to become better architectural patrons. One is a renewed sense of the special purpose of campus architecture. A second is an unswerving devotion to human scale. The third is a sense of the uncommon and particular aesthetic—the delight—that a college or university campus demands.

A surprisingly large sector of the American public has conceded a special purpose to higher education. College campuses have provided a special place for those engaged in the earnest pursuit of basic or useful knowledge, for young people devoted to self-improvement, and for making the country smarter, wiser, more artful, and more able to deal with competitor nations.

Therefore, college and university campuses have a distinct and separate purpose, as distinct as the town hall and as separate as a dairy farm. For most students the four to seven years spent in academic pursuits on a university campus are not only an important period of maturing from adolescence to adulthood but also years of heightened sensory and creative ability, years when the powers of reasoning, feeling, ethical delineations, and aesthetic appreciation reach a degree of sharpness as never before. During college years, young minds absorb impressions that often last for a lifetime: unforgettable lectures, noisy athletic contests, quiet hours in a laboratory or library, jovial dormitory banter, black-robed commencements, encounters with persons of radically different views, the rustle of leaves, transfigured nights. The American college campus serves superbly as an example of Aristotle’s idea of a good urban community as a place “where people live a common life for a noble end.”

Montclair State University
Photo Credit: Mike Peters

No architect should be permitted to build for academe unless he or she fully appreciates that his or her building is an educational tool of sorts. New buildings should add to the academic ambiance and enrich the intellectual exchanges and solitary inquiries. They should never be a mere personal statement by the architect or a clever display of technical ingenuity or artistic fashion.

Campus facilities planners need to be sure that the architects they choose are able to incorporate surprise, touches of whimsy, elegance, rapture, and wonder into their constructions. This special campus aesthetic is definitely not a frill. It is what graduates remember decades after they have left the college, and what often prompts them to contribute money to perpetuate the delight. It is what captures high school juniors and their parents in their summer pilgrimages to numerous college campuses to select those two or three institutions to which they will apply.

I think the best way to preserve the particular values of the American college campus is through a three-pronged effort:

The first is to recognize that the village-like university campus is a unique American architectural creation. No other nation has adopted the “academic village” as an architectural and landscaping form, though the ancient Oxbridge colleges came close. Academic leaders should become more knowledgeable about the distinctiveness of their campus communities and more proud of and assertive about maintaining the values of this inventive form.

Second, universities should have a broadly representative and expert blue-ribbon committee to watch over all new construction, not leave it to the vice president for administration, a facilities planner, or a trustee committee. The campus environment should be guarded and enhanced as carefully as the quality of the faculty.

Third, each college and university should draw up a set of design guidelines to help it become a patron who can list what is essential in its campus architecture. These guidelines will differ from campus to campus, but nearly all institutions should include concern for the three fundamentals: academic purpose, human scale, and a special campus aesthetic. Architects can de- sign more effectively and sympathetically if they understand the expectations of the college.

Although these words were written in 1991, they remain true today as Montclair State University continues to grow its enrollment, academic programs, research programs…and the facilities that serve them.

Source: “Restoring the Values of Campus Architecture” by Werner Sensbach (who served for over 25 years as Director of Facilities Planning and Administration at the University of Virginia)

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Sincerely,

FRANK CUNHA III
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