The Obsolescence of Single-Purpose Campus Buildings

As colleges and universities continue to grow and evolve to meet the needs of today’s students, we’ve noticed three distinct trends when it comes to updating the physical space on campus. Colleges have historically been built with a “single building, single function” design. It allows for a clear distinction between disciplines, and traditionally, students spent most of their time in the one or two buildings dedicated to their field of study. From science centers to libraries and fine arts buildings to languages—each building housed a discipline. Students are no longer laser focused on one field of study, and building usage is shifting to accommodate that change.

Libraries Give Way to Learning Centers

The most prevalent example of building integration is the transformation of the old library into a learning center. These buildings have made the shift from a home for books and archive materials and a quiet place of study into a broader, richer, learning and socializing environment. Where food was forbidden in libraries of the past, learning centers often have cafés or small snack areas inside. In addition to snacks, you’ll find more technology. More collaborative spaces. More opportunity for discovery and experiential learning. Often times a campus learning center houses (or is connected to) student advisory services, helping to broaden their use.

Integrating Interdisciplinary Studies

Technology advancement has been merging disciplines of study for almost as long as campuses have existed. Today’s technology just accelerates that process. Computer science, biology, economics and marketing are all required of a student focused on agricultural studies. In a traditional campus, these disciplines could be far spread. But modern facilities incorporate multiple disciplines into one building—along with study and socialization spaces, administrative offices, labs, meeting rooms, and of course, classrooms.

Integrating Building Design & Curriculum

As the college or university curriculum evolves to the changing needs of today’s world, building design and utilization needs to go hand in hand. Whether through minor remodels, major renovations, or entirely new development, it’s important for the physical space of the campus to keep pace with the shifting educational landscape.

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