Editor's Note (The View From Here)

Useful or Frivolous?

This February issue of College Planning & Management includes our annual Facilities & Construction Brief. For this report, we surveyed you, our readers, to ask about construction on your campuses. You generously provided information on what projects have been recently completed, as well as plans for construction that will wrap up or get underway this year.

The outlook is not bleak. More than three-quarters of respondents completed construction projects in 2017. Close to three-quarters of respondents indicated that they will complete projects this year, and as many will start projects this year as well.

You are balancing these campus improvements—because whether new-from-the-ground-up, additions, or renovations, these construction projects are improving campus life—against a number of challenges. Challenges that include budget and funding issues (although 39 percent saw no change in available funds and 18 percent noted that more funds are becoming available for construction); complying with local, state, and federal rules and regulations; deferred maintenance backlogs on existing building stock; timing and scheduling constraints; customer (student, administrative, community) expectations; labor and materials availability and quality concerns; weather; and more.

Looking forward to the April issue, we will be featuring our annual Campus Housing Report. The survey underway for that report asks not only nuts-and-bolts questions about what residential projects have been completed, are in the works, or are on the boards (as this Facilities & Construction Brief survey did), but also asks about amenities included within those facilities. If we had asked for these details in the Facilities & Construction Brief, the answers would involve everything from replacing the leaky roof on the campus library to constructing a multi-million-dollar sports, recreation, and fitness facility with amenities that include a hydrotherapy suite, movie theater, climbing wall, and lazy river.

A lazy river?

Yes. Albeit a somewhat small trend, several institutions have installed lazy river features in their athletic facilities… at considerable cost and, in the opinion of many, the epitome of “unnecessary.” Still, one school’s “unnecessary” may be another school’s most successful tool for recruiting and retaining students, faculty, and staff.

Campus facilities are not, and never will be, one-size-fits-all. Whether features included in your projects are considered useful or frivolous, you continue to design, build, furnish, and maintain the very best facilities you can. And you get the job done.

This article originally appeared in the College Planning & Management February 2018 issue of Spaces4Learning.