May/June 2004
Issue 03


this issue...

Getting Down to Work

Who Should be at the Table

Assembling the Basic Tools



Getting Down to Work

Good planning is characterized by many elements: an inclusive, participatory approach, sensitivity to the unique qualities of place, insightful analysis, inspired design, and a transparent decision-making process. Important for all plans, these characteristic qualities are particularly necessary for complex, multi-faceted organizations. In this issue we review principles and techniques to ensure that these essential elements can flourish in your planning from the beginning of the process.

Our lead article examines the appropriate roles and desirable membership of committees well-suited to guide plans — whether campus plans or more focused facility plans. We also have recommendations for developing the fundamental tools of planning, from visionary precepts to quotidian calculations. Neither of these pieces is exhaustive. Rather, they present some fundamentals that you can adapt and expand to fit your specific situation.

If you have reactions or ideas to share, please let us know what you think by e-mailing:

George Mathey


Who Should be at the Table

... at the table: room at the table; a place at the table; a seat at the table; getting to the table; ...the conference table; …the negotiating table; …the table of power.

The metaphor of the table, although getting old, is still a useful one for thinking about organizing a planning or design process.

Who & When

Who to involve in the process is just as important a question as when to be involved. Who and when depend on the type of project the institution is engaging in: campus plan, facility program, or architectural design.

Who also depends upon a number of other characteristics such as whether the institution is a university, college, or community college; whether it is public or private; its enrollment size; geographic location; relationship with the community; culture; organizational structure; staff availability; and financial resources.


Despite the nuanced differences, similarities can help structure the process and the selection of participants. Most facility-related projects require at least two committees: an executive committee as well as a user-group committee.

The executive committee should consist of the chief academic officer, the vice presidents, and, exofficio, the president. For continuity and communication, the chair of the user-group committee should also be a member of the executive committee. The make-up of the latter committee depends upon the type of project.

Campus Planning

Although a campus planning process requires community-wide participation, the user-group committee should not exceed seven to nine representatives or it becomes unwieldy and less participatory. Since the committee is intentionally small, other techniques can ensure broad institutional interaction and participation, including task forces; focus groups; workshops; and formal and informal meetings, reviews, interviews, and presentations.

A campus planning user-group committee should consist of faculty, staff, and student representatives. Committee members must have no, or appear to have no, particular agenda — and the institutional community should trust and respect them. It is useful to have several senior faculty and representation from residential life, campus life, physical plant, finance or development, staff, and student government. Some campuses might elect to have a Board member on the committee — but it is best to keep fiduciary and oversight responsibility separate.

Facility Programming & Architectural Design

Memberships of user-group committees formed for facility programming or architectural design are typically more homogeneous and specific to a particular discipline or project than committees for campus planning. Both should have no more than seven to nine members. Because of their narrow focus, the programming or architectural design committees can easily become quite parochial – concentrating on their specific discipline requirements and losing sight of the institutional context. To prevent this, include one or two representatives from other areas of the college or university. If the project is a science facility, for example, a representative from the social sciences or humanities on the committee ensures that decisions aren’t made in isolation.

No matter who is chosen to sit at the table, the success of a project depends upon the care with which you set the table — the early pre-planning that must take place — selecting the participants, agreeing on assumptions, concurring on priorities, articulating a vision, and defining the process and schedule.

Arthur Lidsky




The National Academies
The National Academies Committee on High School Laboratories has invited Arthur J. Lidsky to speak on “Role and Vision” in June. The presentation will include a discussion of how pedagogy and various financial and other resources affect high school laboratory space, equipment, and activities. The National Science Foundation is sponsoring the event.

DLC+A at the
Harvard Design School

Arthur J. Lidsky will be a guest speaker at the Harvard Design School. The all-day presentation, given on June 30, is entitled, The Sustainable Campus: Restorative Pathways of Growth on Campus. The seminar introduces participants to an environmental/sustainable approach to campus planning and design that is often overlooked. The seminar is part of the Summer 2004 Executive Education Seminars, Sustainability, and Green Design.

DLC+A at SCUP 39
Arthur Lidsky and Richard Dober will each be speaking at the Society for College and University Planning’s thirty-ninth annual, international conference and expo. SCUP 39 takes place July 17–21, 2004 at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, Toronto, Ontario. Presentations include:

Similarities and Differences--Three Institutions Plan New Facilities
Presenters: Thomas C Greene, St. Lawrence University; Arthur J. Lidsky, Dober, Lidsky, Craig and Associates; David Sullivan, Syracuse University; Douglas A. Weldon, Hamilton College

This moderated discussion will focus on planning similarities, differences, tips on what works, and potential problems to avoid.

New Campus In Great Britain--Forty Years Later
Presenter: Richard P. Dober, Dober, Lidsky, Craig and Associates, Inc.

This presentation will revisit the development of new campuses in Great Britain, first visited in 1964 through the auspices of the Educational Facilities Laboratories.

The National Campus Facilities Inventory -- What the Study Has Shown Us
John Byrd, University of Alabama, and Arthur J. Lidsky, Dober, Lidsky, Craig and Associates. This concurrent session presents a summary of the first SCUP CFI Survey -findings, comparisons, and related bench marking information, as well as preliminary findings from the just completed annual survey.

Arthur J. Lidsky will become Chair of the Professional Development Committee of SCUP on July 21.




Assembling the Basic Planning Tools
Any project will be expedited by starting out with the right tools honed to effectiveness. Here is a starter checklist of baseline information for getting underway on campus and facility planning studies.

Any Facility or Site Planning Study
Building and site planning studies are best founded upon:

  • A concise and clearly expressed mission or vision statement for the institution itself and the study at hand;

  • The institution’s current strategic, fiscal, and/or academic plan

    [Keep in mind: Focus, Finance, Facilities, see Perspectives Issue No. 1]
  • A general statement of objectives
    Include target enrollments or anticipated numbers for residential accommodations on campus or parking spaces, etc.

    [Note however, that a thorough and interactive planning process can modify original study objectives as analyses and discussions reveal new ideas.]

Campus Planning
More specifically, overall site planning studies benefit by having:

  • An accurate, up-to-date, scaleable site map
    Known also as a planimetric base, it should show buildings and site development such as roads, walkways, and trees. A site plan is nowadays provided in electronic format (CADD or GIS), optimally showing the campus in the context of its surroundings, not just current property holdings.

  • An accurate outline of the institutional property boundary
    Knowing precisely what is owned is critical for assessing the adequacy of holdings and developing land use policies.

  • Local zoning codes and area zoning map
    Early recognition of local requirements and potential exceptions helps focus solutions.

  • A roster of buildings
    An easy-to-reference list of existing buildings should include the assignable areas (NASF) and the overall gross building areas (GSF). Include construction and major renovation dates and listings of key functions or occupants.

  • Current maintenance projections or budgets
    If deferred maintenance information or assessments of mechanical or structural systems are available, you can assess the economics and potentials for building reuse.

We trust you recognize that this is only an initial listing, one that we intend to supplement in upcoming issues with useful tools for other types of planning studies.

Charles Craig



© Copyright 2004
Creating Campus Solutions

464 Common St., Suite 336
Belmont, MA 02478
T 617 489 1162




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