With enrollments declining and technology advancing, colleges are breaking ground on spaces that give students and faculty new ways to engage.
Facing headwinds that are muddling their missions and their budgets and luring away prospective students, college and university officials are adapting their campuses in big and small ways that they hope will help them navigate it all.
From soaring, high-tech innovation labs that attract new students, to small-scale huddle spaces and digital campsites that foster the soft skills bosses increasingly want, colleges are building anew or repurposing existing infrastructure to meet the learning needs of today’s college students. And flexibility is key.
“More education is happening out in the field through immersive experiences and technology. This will cause campuses to fundamentally rethink their physical assets,” says Traci Engel Lesneski, who led the team at Minneapolis architectural firm MSR, which designed the award-winning Visual Culture, Arts and Media (VCAM) building at Haverford College, in Pennsylvania. The college promotes the repurposed gymnasium as a “24/7 creative hub” that bridges previously siloed departments, packing in flexible work and collaboration spaces, offices, a high-tech presentation lounge and a communal kitchen.