The New Design Future of Campus Planning Post-COVID

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Steve Morley, Director of Campus Planning at Credo joined the podcast to talk about approaching campus planning in the short-term from both a public health and pedagogical focus.

Sometimes being familiar with a space can lead to almost a lack of sensitivity for what a space could be, not just what a space has been for the last twenty years. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect Evu podcast network. I'm Eric Olsen with Helix Education and we're here today with Steve Mortley, director of campus planning at Krado. Steve, welcome to the show. Thank you. It's good to be here with you. We really excited to have you here today to talk about new trends in campus planning post covid but before we dig in it, can you give the listeners a little bit better understanding of both Kraido and your role? They're sure so. I serve as the director of campus planning at Credo and Krado is a consulting firm that works with small colleges and universities across the country. We have areas that draw up on specialties in leadership strategy, so working with strategic planning and perhaps board development, and in enrollment management, hoping to build the class for each college university. We work with areas of student success, so really focused on the wellbeing of our students once they are there, and then campus planning in architecture, and so that's the area that I work in. But I mentioned those areas because we see our work as interconnected and so the way that we will work with campuses is drawing upon some of the expertise and content knowledge of each of those other areas to try to bring a comprehensive leadership to our our knowledge that we are contributing to that campus. So we've formed a number of partner relationships with campuses, about four hundred different campuses across the country in those different four areas. It is a fascinating time to have your job and thrill things easy joined just to share what you're seeing, what you're learning and what you're working on right now. Steve, to kick us off today, do you anticipate the the short term design future of college campuses being much more heavily focused per se on h fact systems, then collaborative learning, social and maker spaces that have kind of owned the space for a while. Sure, yeah, absolutely you're right that these last eight months of our our work have looked collectively different than the prior years cumulatively leading up to that point, and in fact even some of our design suggestions prior to this covid nineteen pandemic seem to be...

...almost moving in opposition with with some of our current guidance. But I think there's solutions that aren't either or there's both in and hopefully we'll we'll talk about that a little bit more. But to say that they will be focused solely on HVAC systems might be placing a little bit too much focus on the HVAC system itself. But I certainly would say giving attention to the health of the spaces that we are occupying, particularly as it relates to the air quality, maybe that be filtered air or the volume of outside air, will certainly be something that is taken into consideration for design in the Near and likely the longer term future as well. Prior to the pandemic, we would have been able to see that there were some environments on our campuses that already weren't the healthiest because they did not introduce a healthy volume of fresh air into those spaces. You can think of maybe some of the traditional old main buildings on campus. Sure that that did not have any sort of forced air or any sort of return air systems. It was old radiator heat and likely sealed windows for the sake of energy and conservation, and so those spaces probably weren't the healthiest even in a prior covid nineteen environment. Now I think we are seeing a number of our spaces being restricted because it is hard to get fresh or outside are into spaces that have been somewhat sealed for energy consumption reasons, and so I do think campuses will be looking to develop solutions that help to increase the air volume in those interior learning spaces and then also perhaps look at at spaces adjacent to indoor areas, you know, outdoor areas, Patios, rooftops, those kinds of spaces in the right, I guess, geographical conditions, you know, where the climate would allow. That would be a healthy solution for what we see right now is as an air quality or an air health issue. Yet, and you tease do on this a little bit, this idea of this straddle approach. Talk about approaching campus planning from a public health focus versus a pedagogy focus and how we might be able to do both. Sure, well and certainly I would prefaces comment with the public health and the safety and the wellbeing of our campus community members, are faculty, staff and students, needs to take first priority, and so I'm not arguing for the diminishment of that. What I am saying is that an exclusive focus on guidance that only comes from public health may end up in some results that that seem a bit foreign to maybe a pedagogy, a program informed focus public health would likely focused...

...on separating people from one another. Well, but a pedagogy focus to campus planning intentionally seeks to bring campus community members together and so that that separation versus collision are ways that those two outcome seem to be in opposition with one another. Right now. We want to be able to control one another's movements, so we're talking about entry points and probably directional traffic, you know, how one moves through a cord or or a service or ented space, whereas before we probably saw some of those opportunities for people to maybe not physically collide with one another, but but to run into one another with a level of serendipity as a positive thing. In fact, we used to we refer to that as intentional serendipity, where we know that there's a level of design that actually contributes to bringing people together to be able to see one another, maybe outside of the normal setting, so being able to see professors and staff and in students intersecting a different points on campus. That was intentionally designed. And Right now, a public health would say no, we need to keep separated and we need to actually keep track of who is coming to contact with what, and so those two outcomes seem to be a bit in opposition to one another. Or, you know. Lastly, I think a you know, and I think if I think of our corridors, we would see those as maybe spaces to pause and reflect, maybe either prior to going into a classroom, not to be able to kind of prepare for the discussion or the engagement that's going to take place there, or maybe to continue a conversation after a class that took place inside of there. And that pause, that reflection, that that space to to kind of linger or remain seems to be in opposition to some of the guidance that would say move, separate, disperse. That's going to going to be the healthiest things. But, as you mentioned, I I think there is a boath and I think there are some ways in which we can accomplish the public health guidance and recognizing that needs to take the priority, but also take on those kinds of solutions that would yield a pedagogy or a program first focus. And some of those things might be in the ways that we create. Maybe those barriers or separations, those those barriers that maybe keep people from one another could perhaps take on a program informed purpose. Perhaps they could be white boards that are utilized with some sort of prompt that allow for students to express their thoughts on a on a topic related to what's going on in our world, either put politically or from a justice perspective, or from a learning perspective or from a health perspective. So utilizing those barriers as a means of a learning environment, not just a sterile barrier environment, could...

...be one way. Even the introduction of plant life, knowing that there's there's kind of a biophilic response that we have to plant life, and also knowing that certain kinds of plants can actually contribute to positive indoor air quality. It can also create a positive environment as as well. Lastly, I think of some of my colleagues who are working in residential life on their campuses and have had to implement some more stringent guidelines around personalization of people's rooms, and they're doing that, I think, from sterilization, an ability to keep things clean, but also probably to minimize the disruption should they have to move mid semester or or make a move at some point. There's just fewer things to have to take into account. The challenge of that is is that we know that there is a positive response to win. Any of us, particularly students who are moving to a new environment, are able to to see something familiar in an otherwise unfamiliar environment. So that ability to to personalize, but even more so to be able to see themselves on their campus, to be able to make that identification with the campus is a really healthy perspective from psychological sense of wellbeing and just a growth and an, like I said, an identification with the campus. So perhaps a campus could create some spaces on campus where students are able to personalize some of the campus themselves so that as they're navigating through it they are able to see themselves. They're quite literally you see something that represents their home culture or physically, whether it the an installation of some sort or most of our campuses have some sort of digital signage, but perhaps their students could contribute to some of the scrolling screens around those digital signs around campus, just even as a way of being able to identify with the space and for the space to maybe not seem quite as sterile as it perhaps would otherwise. So there's a lot that that could go into that really campus by campus, but I think generally looking at that as a as a both and rather than an either or in the solution. Development is key for for just healthy, ongoing engagement with students on campus. You're having so many of these similar conversations and consults that canvases all across the country right now. Give us a sneak peek behind the scenes. Look what does that process look like of evaluating your existing physical spaces to figure out how can we make the most of what we already have? Sure absolutely, and that's that's just it. It's it is. Looking at the recent sources that a campus currently has as just that. They are assets, they are resources, they're not liabilities. I think of it at the end of February, early March when, when many most...

...campuses were dispersing their students off of campus, physical space was almost seen as an antagonist. It's what we needed to get away from, and so it's now that we are looking at what re emerging back on the campus looks like. It would be taking stock of each of the facilities and grounds resources for their potential. It's easy for our campuses to take stock of the classrooms that were already identified as such your registrar. From a space inventory perspective. Those were already on the list. So we already knew those classroom spaces. The next step was evaluating what are other spaces that could be utilized in a different manner than they have been up to this point, and so that has required, quite frankly, just a different level of thinking. Sometimes of being familiar with a space can lead to almost a lack of sensitivity for what a space could be, not just what a space has been for the last twenty years. And so a couple of examples of that. Some of our campuses with their their theater areas. First of all, those theater areas are large enough that they could easily be utilized from a social a distancing perspective for the instances when campuses are going to have larger class gatherings. They would be able to easily disperse students throughout those spaces. But also the gathering areas just outside of theater spaces were built intentionally for the prefunction of a crowd gathering before a theater performance and then probably an intermission and then gathering after the performance. Well, it's very likely that those theater performances are not going to take place, at least in the same manner or concentration as they did prior so those otherwise kind of intermission or prefunction gathering areas now should be seen as a resource to perhaps meet some other needs, and those other needs could be class or they could be maybe pop up mule distribution centers, or they could be heather areas to host campus life events or even Student Affairs or student clubs fairs to be able to increase awareness and interest. So part of it is working with the existing space inventory, those spaces that you already knew to count on, like classrooms. But then it was taking a stock and I look at other spaces that could perhaps be utilized in in a different way as they they have been up to this point and looking at those areas for the asset that they can contribute to our scenario development. And so we've looked at those and then we've also looked at even some of our time like how we've gone about scheduling classes. How might we be able to look at the clock or the calendar perhaps in a different way? Might we need to to evaluate that? For instance,...

...a number of campuses developed and of a Monday cohort, a Wednesday cohor a Friday cohort for certain courses or for certain campus life events. So that already began to to look at scheduling a bit differently and I know some campuses even extended that into Saturday's planning. So in order to create a little bit more parody and their scheduling, it was helpful if they had basically a Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Tuesday, Thursday Saturday schedule and it wasn't a full day Saturday, but it helped them really extend some of their flexibility of their their usage, and so that's an example where the first two items I mentioned were really an evaluation of space and then the third item is really more of an evaluation of an assumption, you know, the assumption of time or the assumption of calendar, and some campuses have thought of some creative ways of looking at their calendar and time differently. Let's look at one last design straddle. How do you approach the design challenge of creating an incredibly safe environment for our students, are faculty at our administrators without creating an environment that feels overly still, overly unfriendly? Sure I think that's part of the challenge. Certainly may be related back to save the examples from my friends in residential life or or even some of the corridors that used to be vibrant with life and now are just filled with instruction on walk this way, exit this direction. I think of some of our larger volume spaces, such as learning Commons, and then some other spaces that were created to be more pop up learning Commons. Just from a an occupancy perspective, those areas were often developed in order to be able to bring people into some sort of some place to be able to focus on their work, but also to be able to perhaps be seen in the midst of of that work as well. And so, as I look at some of the transformations of learning Commons, there's often been a promp around the open concept, say the open office concept or the open learning Commons concept, and now we're needing to close that back down a bit or to create some more partitioning. That is that's where I'll go back to something I mentioned earlier, is those partitions don't necessarily need to be sterile, blank and nonfunctioning. In fact, I think they should be the opposite. Those should be spaces that are filled with kind of the vibrant activity of student life, of maybe university branding. Perhaps those are the locations for for poster sessions to basically be displayed or for digital displays to be implemented in order to to solve that solution that is calling for for partitioning, but that doesn't necessarily mean that has to be blank or that it needs to be sterile. It could be something that continues...

...to support and resource the activity of university life. So to have partitions that do perhaps create some separation from one group of students studying in one area and another group of students studying in another. It could be just a blank white board or it could be a whiteboard with prompts to be able to write a response. Could be something that's branded related to the athletic department and what the schedule will look like for upcoming Games. It could be an opportunity, if you, if your program has a studio art program for for those art majors to be able to actually create artistically these barriers or to maybe it could be as simple as movable shelves in order to be able to display smaller items. But there's actually some opportunity here for for installation art that is also serving another purpose in terms of creating those kinds of separations, and so I know of another campus that is looking at doing a similar item to that that students are creating some of their barriers that they intend to probably make even more use of as the weather worsen's and, as you know, students from their engineering area are probably looking at that from materials and a handling perspective. Art Students are looking at that from what kinds of different installation art could we think of to create those kinds of barriers? Theater programs are looking at how could we go and use those as ways of both advertising for our performances by using some of the stage props or those kinds of things in different venues and then, as I mentioned, athletic departments are using those as opportunities to to invest in some university branded boards that are creating separation right now, and then we'll basically be installed into their into their arenas in different locations in a more permanent sense, and so there's opportunities to meet those those needs around creating a safe environment without it just being sterile or bland. And I think many of those examples also involve students in that, which I think is as a helpful strategy as well. That in and of itself reduces some of the stickaility. It's not just something that was installed, it was something that they got to help make or build or provide for their own experience. Steve, super helpful. Any final next steps? Advice for institutions looking back at their existing two thousand and twenty five, twenty thirty campus plans now and wondering if they need to start over or not? What's their next step? Sure, now, that's great. You know, I really don't. I would hope that there was enough strategic guidance or their their long range planning that they would not feel as though they need to start over. I do think they will need to evaluate their their plans for the level of agility that they provide, even thinking of not only...

...what are we perhaps designing the space for currently, but what can we already see that it might need to be in its two point version, and so I don't think this necessarily changes any colleges or universities. Why? But how and what we do may look a bit different, and so I would say agility and the ability for some of the solutions that were implementing now here in the fall of two thousand and twenty to be able to be utilized in a different manner, maybe in the fall of two thousand and twenty one, and then maybe in a, you know, yet a different manner in the fall of two thousand and twenty six, would be the wisest possible investment of resources that we could see one time expenses that really only meet one need. Right now I would be challenge to prioritize, but now it's kind of a moment that's really demanding a greater level of agility in our in our solution development solutions, not only for the near term but for the long term as well. Steve, thanks so much for your time today. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you if they have any follow up questions? Sure I would welcome further conversation. So my email is s m R L E Y so s more really at Krado higher edcom. That's cured O hi gearedcom. Would welcome to email there or my number. Feel free to reach out to me. We would be three three six six, zero three, zero two one and I would welcome engagement there. Feel free to reach out via Credo's website or my email or phone, and I look forward to continuing any conversation. That would be helpful. Awesome. Thanks against so much for joining us today, Steve. Yeah, thank you. Are Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Kelix educations data driven, enterprize wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Download it today for free at Helix Educationcom. Slash playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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