Higher education construction is a subject worth following for several reasons. Colleges are, in many ways, businesses, so understanding the trends and plans for development show how different universities try to stay competitive and appeal to students. Campuses set the stage for students to become professionals who will go on to influence the world. Colleges and universities must create alluring schools and provide top-notch resources to set the stage for enriching education and campus-life experience. Higher education construction projects help recruit and retain the best and brightest students and faculty. So, what are some trends in higher education construction that aim to serve their institution?
Replacing with New Construction
The older and more established higher education institutions generally boast a campus with old-world architecture and buildings. While the historic allure of these structures creates a scenic campus and pays homage to the school’s earlier days, some old campus buildings are unfit to support necessary upgrades. Old buildings may not meet new safety codes or are unable to accommodate technological upgrades, making it unsuitable for dorms or classrooms.
The only choice left is new construction, which will require costly land purchases to expand the campus, or demolishing outdated existing buildings. Costs to renovate and update buildings to current standards are considerable and will need revisiting in another few years. Some campus leaders find it more reasonable to invest in new higher education construction for that reason.
Supporting Sustainability Goals
Some changes to campus infrastructure accommodate construction projects that work to support campus-wide sustainability goals. Universities and their students realize how much of a financial and environmental cost it can be to power a campus. Construction projects can range from outfitting individual buildings to LEED-certified specifications to installing building management systems in order to monitor energy and water use. Another trend is on-campus solar energy. Institutions recognize that being a green university — or at least having green initiatives in place — makes their campus an attractive option to students. Achieving sustainability goals by no means ends with construction efforts, but it can certainly be a start.
Investments into Serving Students
Another higher education construction trend taking place across campuses are adding amenities, features, and technologies that serve their students, particularly their campus-life enjoyment rather than just academic endeavors. Projects for this ambition include updating IT infrastructure to support campus-wide WiFi, building attractive student union buildings and dining halls, and constructing state-of-the-art athletic complexes and gyms. Of course, these exciting features aim to recruit and retain students, but these types of projects also create contention. Sometimes, what students want, what administration believes is best, and what is actually fiscally realistic don’t line up. Some parts of the campus community will feel frustrated at the outcome. Construction projects are costly, which will raise already high tuition prices. Some projects’ timelines make it so that current students will have graduated before they can even take advantage of new facilities.
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