Each year, members of the CannonDesign education team head to the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) 2018 Annual Conference to learn about the latest trends in campus planning, and gather insights that will help inform our own designs and plans moving forward.
This year, four CannonDesign leaders – clockwise, from top left: Phil Dordai, Trevor Calarco, Mike Glaros, Jenny Miller – attended and report on their visits here. The conference presented a broad, relevant topic that is top of mind for planners on both the client and architect side: setting the stage for the future of higher education.
Talks explored challenges facing higher education, the impact of politics on campus, and how planners, administrators and designers can adapt to changing generational demands.
A key theme discussed surrounded how campuses are looking for creative ways to insert new or updated buildings within already dense campuses. Right-sizing and right-spacing facilities, finding ways to house multiple curriculums (even if disparate in nature) under one roof, and using data and analytics to find the most efficient use of space are just some of the methods planners are adopting to ensure student, faculty and administrative needs are met.
In a similar vein, campuses are also getting innovative in creating new subtypes of spaces or programs, such as creating new multipurpose student centers/unions that house shared environments. These ladder into the trend of incoming generations being interested now more than ever before in the quality of their experiences on campus. Students want accessible wellness centers, retail, dining, prayer spaces, etc. They want to know that they have spaces where they can proactively spend time, versus reactively finding them in times of need. As a result, planners and designers alike will need to continue to source new ideas for creating these proactive experiences, and give students spaces they want to hang out and spend time in.
A final hot topic of focus was the impact of politics on campus. As with many industries, issues like immigration policies are affecting international student enrollment numbers. And like other industries, it’s predicted that decreases in international enrollment could result in serious consequences for business plans in higher education institutions if those drops in enrollment from last year continue. It remains to be seen what these consequences will entail, but will be important to monitor, and prepare for.
Overall the conference provided interesting takeaways, but more importantly, challenged those that presented and attended to continue to expand their creative thinking within a campus planning framework. It will be interesting to see how these trends and insights are reflected within the physical campus space in the coming years.