A Data-Driven Approach to Higher Education Campus Planning

A Data-Driven Approach to Higher Education Campus Planning

A Data-Driven Approach to Higher Education Campus Planning

A Data-Driven Approach to Higher Education Campus Planning

In today’s higher education landscape, the rise of hybrid learning models has led to a decreased demand for traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms. However, this shift has not diminished the desire for communal experiences and flexible, multipurpose spaces. In a deep-dive article from The Society for College and University Planning, McMillan Pazdan Smith architects Tom Savory, FAIA, and Minta Ferguson, AIA, reveal Newberry College’s data-driven process to making higher education campus planning decisions.

Newberry College’s Strategic Initiative

In the face of significant growth in several academic programs, Newberry College embarked on a strategic initiative to reassess and optimize its campus spaces. Collaborating with McMillan Pazdan Smith, the college undertook a comprehensive space needs assessment to explore alternative solutions for its existing facilities.

The project was spearheaded by the college’s vice president of academic affairs. He participated in collecting and analyzing data on seat fill rates, classroom and course scheduling, and net assignable square feet (NASF). The data revealed how much space the college currently needs for classes and how much it will need in the future. This information ensures the college’s infrastructure could support its evolving educational landscape.

Data Collection

To align the campus development with the needs and expectations of its community, Newberry College leveraged online surveys to capture feedback from a broad range of stakeholders, including faculty, staff, students, and alumni. This inclusive process resulted in three key takeaways:

  1. Evidence:
    By gathering and synthesizing empirical evidence, the college enhanced its campus master planning. And paving the way for informed decision-making and strategic development.
  2. Feedback:
    The use of surveys and focus groups guaranteed that stakeholder feedback was integral to the planning process. The community’s collective vision for the campus is important to a campus’s success.
  3. Sequencing:
    A prioritized list of campus updates was prepared, enabling decision-makers to swiftly address the most pressing needs. This logical sequencing of recommendations was crucial for the efficient allocation of resources and timely implementation of improvements.

The initiative’s success was further bolstered using data analytics and a thorough review of facility conditions was conducted. Together, these efforts facilitated better space utilization. They also fostered a dynamic, adaptable campus environment.

Finding the Maximum Value

Institutions like Newberry College recognize the importance of maximizing the value of their existing building stock. By deferring unnecessary costs and prioritizing smart renovations and upgrades, the college is setting a new standard for how educational institutions can adapt to the changing needs of their students and staff.

For a detailed exploration of this approach to campus space optimization, we invite you to read Planning for Higher Education online: https://www.scup.org/resource/diving-into-data-space-utilization-analysis.

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Want to explore data-driven solutions for your campus planning? Contact our Director of Planning, Minta Ferguson.

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Minta Ferguson


Principal, Director of Planning

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