In for the Long Run

Deteriorating campuses and technological changes are significantly impacting college and university planning in the late 1990s. With the advent of new technologies and a changing student population, many institutions have begun to rethink their campuses. Along with restructuring programs and upgrading technology, administrators have looked to updating the campus and facilities.

Colleges and universities in the United States are, by and large, comprised of aging facilities with buildings and campuses dating from the 1800s. A major impetus in master planning is the need to upgrade and, in many cases, replace existing buildings with structures better suited to take the campus into the next century. Students and their parents are increasingly becoming more demanding-when choosing between two schools of similar academic quality and price, the one with the superior facilities more often is being chosen.

Technology's impact The technology revolution has changed the entire student market. Today's student is highly computer-literate and expects those resources on campus. Many institutions are adding ports throughout campus, especially in residence halls, to allow students to connect to the university network. Kiosks, with access to registration, student records and class grades, also are popping up on campus.

As part of its master-planning effort, St. John's University, Queens, N.Y., is rewiring its three campuses for computer interaction and videoconferencing, which will enable the university to minimize the duplication of classes at the three sites.

Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., is continually upgrading its campus because of changes in technology and changes in the academic environment, according to Richard Griffiths, director of physical plant for the college. He states that Bard was ahead of many other colleges in placing fiber optics throughout the campus. "We like to be ahead of everyone else in campus development-we want other colleges to look to us."

According to James Boggs, architectural assistant, Boston College, Mass., the institution has always looked to using technology to its fullest. Even before the explosion of the Internet, students were able to access information on grades and registration through the ATMs on campus. Today, Boston College has an internal network that allows students to do everything from transferring money onto a dining card to posting questions on a class bulletin board. Faculty even are able to give interactive class assignments on the network.

Another drive to upgrade campuses is the desire to maintain high ranking and reputation. The increase in competition for quality students has resulted in colleges and universities vying for that competitive edge. In addition to academic reputation, state-of-the art technology, enhanced infrastructure and new buildings are ways for institutions to remain ahead of the competition.

Consensus for change Campus master planning often is impacted by the requests of a variety of concerned constituents-administrators, faculty, students and, at times, parents or donors. In most planning efforts, almost all of these parties are involved in the process.

Typically, all are in agreement on the general needs of the campus. The problem arises when determining which parts of the plan should be implemented when and at what scale. For example, the new Fine Arts Center at Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa, began as a proposal from the theater department stating that the existing building was insufficient in terms of space and technology. The proposal was sent to the college's president, who responded by establishing a committee comprised of faculty, administrators and students to develop a program. Working with an architect and theater consultant, the committee developed two options: one for the renovation of the existing building with an addition; the other for a new facility, which was the committee's preference. The president felt that the renovation and addition was more realistic, and the trustees approved this strategy.

At St. John's University, a combination of public funding and donor contributions was used to implement its master plan. However, public financing also brings about changes that, while not desirable, are necessary. As result of the limit in the amount of funding St. John's can borrow, its new University Center will be developed in two phases, although St. John's strongly prefers a one-phase project.

Boston College uses an academic council comprised of administrators, deans, faculty and students to continually develop its 10-year forecasting for academic needs. The plan is then used to create the facilities master plan.

After nearly a century as a commuter school, St. John's University made the decision to build residence halls on its 90-acre Queens, N.Y., campus. According to John Caiazzo, executive director of design and construction for the university, the change is largely the brainchild of president Rev. Donald Harrington, who believes that residential life on campus is vital to keeping the university competitive in the 21st century. Residences would help to ensure a more diverse student body, upgrade the students' academic qualifications and, in general, make the university more desirable to students and their parents. St. John's anticipates a transformation from a student body largely made up of New York-area commuter students to a national and international residential presence on campus.

When St. John's began master planning the 1950s campus for the addition of 2,800 beds in 1996, it understood that these facilities could not be introduced to the campus alone. According to Caiazzo, the university needed to provide a "sense of community" for the residential students, which brought about "the birth of a new University Center, dining facilities, church for the campus community and expanded academic facilities." Over the next five years, St. John's also plans for the development of a new admissions building, new athletic facilities, and parking structures to relocate at-grade parking and clear valuable land development.

St. John's first project-700 residential units-currently is under construction and scheduled for completion in August 1999. A related dining facility also is under construction and scheduled to open in the fall of 1999. Einhorn Yaffee Prescott designed both projects, and HLW International was master planner.

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