September/October 2004
Issue 05


this issue...

Maintaining Vitality

Facility Renewal

Student Impressions


Maintaining Vitality

Institutions that do not purposefully grow and change wither and die.


Perspectives examines the inevitability of change and how you can contribute to your institution's vitality. Real vitality goes beyond the superficiality of aesthetics. Mission and program are fundaments that are enhanced by balancing functional facilities with fiscal viability.

Archaeologists examine buildings and their surrounds. So do first-time campus visitors, who read the environment for clues suggesting strengths and on-going liveliness.

Everyone has heard the term ‘curb appeal’ used in recent times with particular regard to competition for enrollment (and retention) of students.

Discerning prospective students, now called Millenials (and their hyper-involved parents), see more than the newly refreshed surfaces and furnishings in Old Main. Evidence of on-going activity, whether students are present or not, conveys volumes about institutional energy.


Washington & Jefferson

The provision of sensitively designed and well-kept places where activities occur is solid evidence of continuing rejuvenation. These places engender shared and commonly expressed excitement and collegiality. Moreover, evident vitality implies Opportunity.

Charels Craig

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

    Facility Renewal

    Campus plans rightfully focus on the big picture — accommodating enrollment growth, supporting new programmatic initiatives, enhancing an institution's image, resolving significant problems of access and vehicular management, or determining the highest and best use of newly acquired land.

Yet essential background routines that support campus operations, promote preservation of institutional heritage, and convey institutional values such as stewardship are important also. Include them in your campus plan as actions and describe them collectively as facility renewal — building reuse, program-driven renovation, and remediation of deferred maintenance — to ensure vitality at your institution.

Building Reuse
Building reuse typically follows the complete relocation of a function to new space, leaving a building vacant. Often, this sequence provides planners with an exciting opportunity to completely redefine a facility while accommodating a function that has clear links to campus plan themes and needs.


Batting cage in the core campus

  Actions such as converting an early 20th century gym to a 21st century student center, transforming a library to an on-campus guest house, reconceiving an underutilized campus chapel for a range of new uses, or recovering an obsolete science building as a new humanities center are all examples of campus plan renovation initiatives. All of these are opportunities for the institution to revitalize core campus buildings to serve new functions in a manner sympathetic to campus plan and style.

One of an array of AV classrooms (above)

with collegial gathering space at classroom entries (left)

Spring Hill College

Program-Driven Renovation
Many older campus buildings remain fundamentally appropriate for their current use, but require a significant renovation to better support evolving programs: adjust room sizes and adjacencies, provide new room types, and update and upgrade systems that support the building and its new arrangement. These actions aim at extending the useful life of facilities central to the institution's mission — an important campus planning goal.

By incorporating these projects into the campus plan agenda, the institution links the programmatic to the operational while preserving campus heritage, an obvious fund-raising appeal.

Remediation of Deferred Maintenance
Campus plans should also reflect ongoing efforts to draw down the backlog of maintenance projects. One reason to include these projects in a campus plan is that the initiatives described above may alter the deferred maintenance project list with large-scale renovations addressing many maintenance issues in a facility. Another reason is to place these facility needs in the broad context of the campus plan.

Historically, dollars for facility maintenance are among the hardest to allocate at levels sufficient to catch up and stay current as maintenance is a never-ending and mundane process, rather than a transformative, one-time event. Referring to these projects in the campus plan keeps the deferred maintenance issue before the board, the legislature, and on-campus decision-makers. More importantly, the stewardship involved in such projects is a critical value that responsible institutions should promote as it not only preserves institutional legacy, but makes budgeting more predictable, ensuring that your institution is not robbing Peter's essential maintenance program to support Paul's exciting and strategic new construction program.

Keep all of these needs on the table to ensure your institution's entire facility inventory best reflects its intellectual and organizational vitality.

George Mathey





Facilities Workshop

Charles Craig will be presenting Re-defining the Design Standard for the November 3-6 Facilities Workshop in Tampa FL jointly presented by the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International and the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers.

Spring Hill College
Renewal Celebration

Spring Hill College, a DLC+A client, recently held several events in “celebration of a renewed Spring Hill College, honoring those who contributed to its transformation.” Charles Craig, who prepared the campus plan, spoke at the dedication of the Marnie and John Burke Memorial Library and Rydex Commons.

DLC+A Speaking at
Project Kaleidoscope

Arthur Lidsky will be giving a talk at the joint Project Kaleidoscope/National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education
(PKAL/NITLE) conference on New Learning Spaces October 22-24 at Vassar College.

DLC+A To Be Faculty at Integrated Planning Institute
Arthur Lidsky will be a faculty member presenting on campus planning for SCUP's Integrated Planning Institute on January 20-24 in Tempe, Arizona. The session will be: Step II: Integrated Application-Integrated Planning and Problem Solving.


Student Impressions

Choosing a college or university is often a mystical correspondence of the rational and the irrational — the emotional and the cool. A prospective student's decision making process is, at times, neither obvious to the intellect nor apparent to parents. It's like falling in love.

So how does an institution influence a prospective student's impressions of the campus?

The impression of the campus environment, buildings and land, is only one factor. Consider these others:

  • Admissions offices that resemble residential living rooms
  • Student tour routes that admissions officers carefully craft
  • The unfortunate institutional fad to use star architects to create an architectural statement, i.e., building as sculpture.

But students perceive the campus in a more complex and sophisticated way:

  • The quality and strength of the academic program and the institution's reputation
  • The perceived accessibility of the faculty and the sense that the administration listens
  • The racial make-up of a campus and the extent of diversity
  • The perception of a college or university's social life, informed by friends, siblings, the media, and apocryphal tales.

Still, one of the strongest — overlooked — influences affecting student impressions of a campus is the subtle, personal connection created by the student tour guide. How the guide feels about the campus and expresses that feeling will have a significant influence on the perspective student's perception of the institution.

Do you want to have a significant impact on student perceptions? Do a better job of selecting and training your student tour guides.

Arthur Lidsky



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