July/August 06
Issue 15

 
   

this issue...

Optimizing

An Optimal Planning Approach

What's in a Word

What's New

   
   
             
   


   
   

Optimizing

It is a sign of the times that every institution is faced with the challenges of having to do more and be more effective, often with fewer resources — space, personnel, and operating funds. Many of our clients are creatively and successfully giving life to the Miesian dictum: Less is more.

In this issue's feature, George cites our firm's Campus Planning heritage to point out that effective, institutional stewardship meshes the fundamental understanding of mission with user insights and with design responses that are fiscally responsive. Arthur's sidebar clarifies key issues focused on best use of classroom spaces.

As this trending seems likely to persist, we invite you, our readers, to share concerns about specific facility planning topics you would like us to address with additional ways and means for coping with less.


Charles Craig

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

   
             
        
         
     
  An Optimal
Planning Approach

Campus and facility planning taken together form a distinct discipline founded on a definite approach that borrows from some related disciplines (e.g., architectural and landscape design) and overlaps with others (e.g., academic/strategic planning, and educational theory).

Each of these “donor” disciplines has its own strengths. Each is required at certain stages of the campus development process. The strength of properly executed campus planning is the synthesis of disciplines, enabling institutions to create the uniquely proper campus.

In twenty years of practice, the truest of the truisms I have encountered is that each campus is different and distinct.

While superficially this comes across as an insipid, self-congratulatory statement, its truth can be demonstrated by example. Try to think of two campuses that are alike in all aspects — I firmly believe it is impossible.

Even institutions of similar size, mission, age, region, and resources will be unique and distinctive. History, founding impulse, neighboring land uses, and, most importantly, people guarantee distinctiveness.

The genius of integrated campus planning is that it enables a campus's stewards to ensure, enhance, and optimize campus distinction to advance institutional goals in the most supportive way. None of the other disciplines alone can produce the same results.

Dick Dober's pithy diagram from 1964's Campus Planning illustrates the issue. Planning begins with an institution's mission, vision, academic/strategic plan, history, aspirations and people here identified by the Program block. Campus Design skills are brought to the process to respond to Program needs.

Where the two disciplines overlap and interact is where Planning thrives. I've overlaid the element of Finance to reinforce the idea that an institution's plans need to be guided and informed by its financial planning to maintain relevance and support implementation.

Campus Planning is at once analytical and creative, process-driven and inspiration-guided. Thoughtfully integrated planning recognizes the centrality of mission and program, while realizing the essential contributions of meaningful design thinking responding to the constraints of the built environment.

The diagram suggests the inclusiveness required for developing solid, implementable plans that derive support from an institution's many constituencies. Weaving these three planning strands together into a process that is itself a key outcome of the planning demands specific skills and a well-defined approach that can only be acquired through practice.

Educational institutions should be aware of the critical distinctiveness of this process and the skills, approaches, attitudes, and interests needed to translate its goals into a vision of its future campus.

Just as building design benefits from a preceding phase of facility programming that focuses attention on identifying, rationalizing, quantifying and describing the occupants' functional needs, campus development is greatly enhanced by periodic campus planning that focuses on institutional direction, strategic goals and campus-wide dynamics that no amount of project planning and design alone can achieve.


George Mathey

 

         
         
     
 

Whats in a Word

Optimize is a wonderful word. On a college campus you can optimize almost anything: resources, facilities, capital investments, views, information technology, opportunities etc, etc, & C.

So what should we optimize today? Classrooms! Classrooms have many measures to optimize: the number of scheduled hours per week , percent of seats filled, size, room configuration, location, acoustics, lighting, technology, furniture, and air circulation — to name a few.

Usually the issue comes down to whether there are a sufficient number of rooms. Those with fiduciary responsibilities often have the suspicion (or hope) that there are too many rooms. In contrast, faculty know that there are too few rooms and therefore classrooms should be added.

One widely accepted norm is that a typical classroom should be scheduled 30 hours per week assuming a 40 hour workweek.

Often, although there are 40 hours a week in which to schedule, many institutions cluster their classroom usage between the hours of 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM in response to faculty and student preferences. However, distributing courses more evenly across
the day to avoid the usual clustering of courses will not change the average hours per week — it will only make scheduling easier.

If to optimize utilization means to increase the number of hours per week that the typical classroom is used then no amount of adjusting the schedule will suffice: the same number of classrooms and the same number of courses will always yield the same number of hours per week. The only way to increase the hours per week is to either have more courses (increasing faculty load and requiring a smaller section size) or reduce the number of classrooms.


Arthur Lidsky

 

         
         
       
What’s New
 

Arthur J. Lidsky Named 2006 SCUP Founder's (Casey) Award Honoree
SCUP (Society for College and University Planning) has named Arthur J. Lidsky a 2006 SCUP Founder's (Casey) Award Honoree. The award recognizes exceptional achievement in higher education planning. SCUP selects recipients on the basis of innovative contributions to the improvement of the theory and practice of academic, administrative, financial, facilities, and/or general institutional planning at colleges and universities.

DLC+A Completes Campus Plan for Briar Cliff University
Charles Craig has finalized work on a campus plan study with Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa. The plan marks the Briar Cliff's 75-year anniversary and focuses on a future outlined in the University's new strategic plan. Proposals for the challenging ridge-top site feature the renovation and extension of Heelan Hall, the campus's oldest structure.

 

DLC+A Complete Science Facility Study at Fitchburg State College
DLC+A has just completed the detailed facility programming for science improvements at Fitchburg State College. Art Lidsky has been working closely with the faculty members in Biology, Chemistry, Geo/Physics and Math to develop the best description of their needs as they anticipate advancing a more hands-on, experiential curriculum while consolidating their use of space. This project is administered by DCAM, the Division of Capital Asset Management for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The Sustainable Campus
Arthur J. Lidsky presented a seminar on “The Sustainable Campus: Restorative Pathways of Growth on Campus,” Harvard University Executive Education Program, July 19th from 9:00 to 5:00. Co-presenter was Randy Croxton of Croxton Associates.

   
 
   
         
         
   


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