The physical capacity for academic endeavor is critical to an institution’s mission. See how several campuses use a comprehensive, integrated approach to build and refurbish space so that it matches up with VISION and master plan.
By Apryl Motley
At first glance, academic or administrative buildings on your campus might look pretty similar to one another. Yet, once you go inside, they could be very different in terms of allocation of space, heating and cooling systems, and technological readiness—among other things.
Many institutions see the value of documenting and addressing these differences sooner rather than later. Through infrastructure planning, they are taking inventory of their physical space and making decisions about how best to use it to meet their institutions' current and future needs.
“We had been living in a siloed environment where decisions were made about construction in isolation without considering the overall stewardship of the university's resources,” says Amanda Hoffsis, special assistant to the associate vice president of physical planning and real estate at the Ohio State University. In 2009, Hoffsis played a key role in developing OSU's facilities master plan, an element of the One Ohio State Framework, which underscored the important connection between the institution's academic mission and its physical environment.
Similar concerns led to the development of the University of Washington's One Capital Plan. “We wanted to take a long-term approach to investing our resources that was more integrated and holistic,” says Kirk R. Pawlowski, the university's assistant vice provost, capital resource planning. Developing the plan “provided an opportunity to collate all of the planning done by different departments at the university so that we could have a bigger picture of our capital commitments under the umbrella of one planning effort,” adds Charles Kennedy, associate vice president, facilities services.
Since his institution was preparing for considerable growth in enrollment, Clyde Porter needed to focus all planning efforts in his district around meeting the future demands of the marketplace. Porter, associate vice chancellor for facilities management and planning/district architect for the Dallas County Community College District, Texas, was involved with the preparation of DCCCD's facilities master plan. “We needed to provide educational spaces to meet market demand for our academic programs,” Porter says. “We were charged with educating as many people as we could to maintain the state's wealth.”
Institutions smaller than these three have similar concerns about infrastructure planning. Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, faced an impending space shortfall, yet all facilities dollars of its capital campaign were already allocated. A series of real estate acquisitions—well-vetted to mesh with Calvin's mission—provided square footage for office space, academic centers, and student housing, while at the same time generating nontraditional revenue streams. (See the article “Wise Buys” in this issue on page 21.) Maintaining or upgrading appearances was a chief concern as King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, updated its campus master plan in 2010; read about how the college is transforming blighted areas in its vicinity in the online Business Officer Plus article, “Renovation and Revival,” at www.nacubo.org.
While their specific goals may differ slightly, all of these institutions have made a commitment to establishing and maintaining links between their missions and their approaches to facilities management. In the process, they are addressing key issues, such as interdepartmental cooperation and economic development. The experiences of these campus leaders, who are masters of their plans, might serve as the catalyst for developing, expanding, or revising your institution's facilities management practices.
Quality, Not Quantity
The Ohio State University
It's not how much space you have, but how well you use it: This was the guiding principle as the Ohio State University began evaluating its infrastructure. To facilitate that process, OSU enlisted the interdisciplinary planning and design firm Sasaki Associates Inc., which has offices in Boston and San Francisco. The firm worked with Hoffsis and others to develop a “comprehensive, integrated, and dynamic structure for guiding change in the university's physical environment.”
“There was lots of construction taking place on campus without as much focus on the maintenance of existing buildings,” Hoffsis says. “We wanted to invest more in renewal than in growth, but we didn't have the data to determine how best to use the resources available. We decided to develop a facilities master plan, which included analyzing the current condition and functional adequacy of existing buildings.”
During this analysis, the key question to be addressed was whether a building met the current and future needs of an academic program housed within it, and if it didn't, whether renovations could be done to make the space more suitable. “Initially we focused on our academic core, which makes up about 8 million square feet on campus, with the idea that this process could be scaled out to the entire university at some point,” Hoffsis explains. “As a result, we decided to concentrate on renovation and replacement and a goal of no net growth in academic space overall.”
Focus on Function
During the course of two years, OSU's facilities master plan began to take shape with an eye toward addressing these kinds of issues as well as identifying opportunities for upgrading the university's physical space while encouraging interdepartmental cooperation. A case in point was convincing two different departments that they would get more for their money if they built a joint facility.
The new centralized research facility is one example of OSU's no-new-net-growth approach to infrastructure planning. It will provide shared space for the William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the chemistry department. “We're tearing down four buildings to make room for it, so the construction doesn't result in more square footage in our core,” Hoffsis says.
“Originally, this was going to be two different building projects, but we determined that similar research was being conducted in both disciplines,” Hoffsis recalls. “We were able to work together to construct a modular lab that both disciplines could use.”
In another instance, two buildings were demolished, resulting in more green space on campus. Decisions about which buildings to demolish were made based on their overall physical condition and functional adequacy. For example, says Hoffsis, it became evident that even with renovations, some of OSU's academic buildings would be “unable to support modern science programs and functions.”
Throughout the development of the plan, Hoffsis and others communicated with various stakeholders about its main principles and objectives. A steering committee of 70 faculty members and administrators provided input on the plan before it was presented to and approved by OSU's board of trustees. Further, Hoffsis describes the university's president, E. Gordon Gee, as an “advocate and initiator” of the plan.
“We have maintained constant contact with OSU's leadership throughout the plan's development and updated them regularly on its implementation, which was difficult at times, but helped to ingrain the plan's principles into our culture,” she says.
Attendance at faculty workshops, town hall meetings, and dean's council meetings also provided important opportunities for communicating about the plan. In addition, Hoffsis and the team met with the occupants of all buildings on campus. Thus, the plan represents the contributions of hundreds of people, including faculty, staff, students, trustees, and friends of the university.
A Flexible Tool
OSU is an urban campus, so external communication was equally important. “We have the University Area Commission, which is the official advisory body to city government, and we attended the commission's monthly meetings to keep our neighbors informed about our infrastructure plans,” Hoffsis explains. “We also communicated with the mayor and the governor.”
“We decided to concentrate on renovation and replacement and a goal of no net growth in academic space overall.”
Amanda Hoffsis, The Ohio State University
Since the plan's launch, classes have been taught about the One Ohio State Framework, and student projects have been built around it. From Hoffsis's perspective, these activities illustrate that “the deliverable was a set of tools and not just a plan.
“We didn't just get condition values for the buildings,” she says. “We have a program for maintaining this data over the long term and having it available quickly.” Ultimately, staff will review and update the condition assessment of each building every three years, which means maintaining data for 34 million square feet of space.
In addition, an internal governance structure developed out of the planning process. OSU's Integrated Physical Planning Liaison Group has representatives from six different departments who meet weekly to review all major strategic planning initiatives that pertain to physical space.
“They are the keepers of the plan, which makes things more efficient,” Hoffsis says. “They have a funding stream from OSU's general fund that they can allocate for additional research and studies, which will help advance our capabilities for doing strategic planning for the physical environment.” Transportation and way-finding studies are examples of projects this group might fund.
Hoffsis reiterates the importance of viewing an infrastructure plan as a flexible tool that can be adapted as “assumptions change over time. That's the essence of planning. We'll complete some important renovations over the next decade and then reassess our needs.”
She acknowledges that pressure to accept more in-state students and subsequently increase freshman enrollment beyond the 6,000 students OSU has tried to maintain for the past 10 years would mean “reconsidering the notion of no net new space. If we continue to grow the student population, we will need more space.”
Even with potential for another shift in focus to expanding physical space rather than upgrading it, Hoffsis says having an infrastructure plan in place “gives you the ability to operate your facilities for the long term and to make informed decisions. We're very confident about the ways in which our current projects adhere to our Framework. We're able to articulate why certain decisions were made.”
PARADIGM AND PRICE
University Of Washington
The need for a framework within which to make comprehensive and realistic decisions about the University of Washington's physical environment was a key driver in the development of the Seattle institution's One Capital Plan. Rather than having many unrelated plans in progress throughout the university, the goal was to launch an integrated, multiyear strategic planning effort. While there was no formal mandate from the university's board of regents, Pawlowski and Kennedy sensed the board's desire for a more strategic alignment of physical assets and academic programs with the institution's mission.
“We knew that they were looking to all of us to find a path for the future. Too often decisions about capital investments are made in silos,” Pawlowski says. “The viewpoint of the person responsible for operating a building may be very different from that of the dean whose academic program is housed there. When you start having conversations on campus, you find out that goals aren't always aligned.” For example, staff may be focused on repairing an elevator when perhaps the larger infrastructure goal might be repurposing the use of the entire building.
“The decision to develop a cohesive capital planning process required us to look at ourselves in a proactive partnership role,” Kennedy explains. “As leaders of the physical assets on campus, we had to consider how we could combine our thinking with that of others on campus to move forward in a more comprehensive and collaborative way.”
Integrating Multiple Plans
During a 12-month period, the One Capital Plan took shape. There were concurrent planning exercises taking place across the campus. According to Pawlowski and Kennedy, the university's governance structure empowers the college deans to engage in a strategic academic program planning process that results in the development of precinct plans. Their goal was to integrate these plans, develop a system for prioritizing the university's short-, mid-, and long-term space and capital needs, and begin to prioritize institutionwide funding strategies.
To begin this process, they examined some case studies outlining how other institutions had approached the planning process, Kennedy says. “From there, we engaged in high-level conceptual thinking about what our framework would look like so that we could develop a common nomenclature. We wanted to have a shared understanding of the process and a clear ideology about what we were trying to communicate.”
“When we use the total-cost-of-ownership business model, we consider not only the initial investment in building the facility, but the ongoing operating costs.”
Charles Kennedy, University of Washington
Assistant deans and key leaders within the facilities and capital planning offices provided their input about the plan by participating in meetings with Pawlowski and Kennedy. A definition emerged during these early planning stages: “Infrastructure is the physical fabric that supports and sustains the academic, research, and clinical programs of the university.” It's “more than just pipes and wires,” Kennedy emphasizes. “It's the network that allows the university to function.”
This definition is a reflection of the larger scale on which “we were undertaking our discussion of infrastructure,” Pawlowski says. “We were not looking for Band-Aid solutions to individual systems in individual buildings, but the interrelationship of technologies, the distributive environment, and deep energy conservation—creating a 'smart campus'—with infrastructure investment decisions driven by the university's program needs.”
Costs Over Time
With this in mind, Pawlowski and Kennedy are leading the efforts to integrate life-cycle cost and benefit analyses into the university's capital planning process. “We are going to construct buildings,” Pawlowski says, “and we're going to maintain them for years, so let's get real about the total cost of ownership associated with our capital investments in building projects.”
“This is different thinking for us,” Kennedy acknowledges. “When we use the total-cost-of-ownership business model, we consider not only the initial investment in building the facility, but the ongoing operating costs, such as heating, electricity, and information technology.”
“With this model, the driver for the investment is not the building itself, but its operating components,” Pawlowski adds. “We are using our capital investments to leverage operational efficiencies.”
Another key component of the plan was the prioritization of capital projects into three waves. Wave I is must-do investments that are key to sustaining the university's mission, Wave II is high-priority investments, and Wave III is lower-priority investments. Both Waves I and II are projected to be completed during the university's 2019 fiscal year. When the planning process began in 2009, a list of $3.6 billion in requested projects was on the table for consideration. “Prioritization is embedded in the plan,” Pawlowski says. “We have the tools and the data from our program-driven precinct plans and infrastructure plans to assist us in identifying our top priorities.”
Kennedy and Pawlowski maintain ongoing communication about the plan by regularly attending the meetings of specific stakeholder groups on campus, such as the board of deans, faculty senate subcommittees on budget and facilities, and student government.
As they move forward with their review of future capital projects, Kennedy says, “The biggest driver will be the integrated life-cycle component of our planning. We want to carefully evaluate the impact of physical assets on our financial and environmental sustainability as well as how they align with the university's academic or strategic mission.”
At the same time, plans are bound to change over time, and the University of Washington's One Capital Plan was built to accommodate necessary adjustments based on how the university's mission evolves and how well the plan meets established goals and priorities.
“We established key performance indicators, such as water consumption and utilization, and transportation connectivity and movement, both transit and pedestrian, to be measured over time,” Kennedy explains. “We have metrics in place for measuring and evaluating the infrastructure up to 2030.”
“We looked over a planning horizon of 20 years,” he continues. “We think of the current plan as a document that has the built-in flexibility to adjust to paradigm and priority shifts. As the mission of the university moves forward, we want to always align our planning with that.”
GROWTH AND GAINS
Dallas County Community College District
At some institutions, it's not just the mission of the university, but of the whole state, that factors into infrastructure planning. “In 2003, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board met and projected that by 2014 there would be a significant demographic shift in the population of Texas,” Porter recalls. “The majority would become the minority.
“They also determined that natural resources like cattle, cotton, and oil were no longer major resources for maintaining the state's wealth,” he continues. “Our people were going to be the primary resource for maintaining the state's wealth. Therefore, we needed to invest in educating people so that they could get jobs and contribute to the state's wealth.”
At that time, enrollment within the Dallas County Community College District was approximately 50,000 full-time undergraduate students, and the goal was to reach 88,000 by 2014. Porter says the overarching message from the board was to “educate as many people as we could to maintain the economic viability of the state.”
For DCCCD, this meant creating more space to accommodate all these new students. In 2003, DCCCD engaged a Dallas-based architectural firm, Corgan Associates Inc., and began development of a comprehensive, districtwide facilities master plan in connection with the district's $450 million bond program that was approved by Dallas County voters the next year. The plan included adding more buildings on each of DCCCD's seven main campuses and constructing five new satellite locations.
Critical Role of Maintenance
Meanwhile, the implementation of a master plan of maintenance projects totaling $50 million was already in progress. “This plan was running concurrently with the development of the facilities master plan,” Porter explains.
“One of the benefits of focusing on campus infrastructure is that it keeps our campuses looking new. Our effort is to maintain our physical space along with our low tuition rate.”
Clyde Porter, Dallas County Community College District
To execute the master maintenance plan, which included renovations ranging from putting new roofs on buildings to installing new VAV (variable air volume) boxes or chillers in them, he led an internal team of engineers, interior designers, and architects who supervised the work of outside consultants hired to oversee the day-to-day aspects of the projects. DCCCD's board of trustees approved all renovation projects as well as the selection of the contractors who would implement the work.
Today DCCCD has seven campuses, five satellite locations, and two administration locations occupying 4 million square feet of space in total. From Porter's perspective, DCCCD has “completed the master plan initiated seven years ago,” despite the fact that not all of the construction projects originally planned have come to fruition.
According to Porter, there is “no initiative in place to update the master plan as yet. The economic situation has been a primary focus for us because of cuts in state funding. We're still pending moving forward with a facilities master plan revision.
“The focus for my department is to continue our annual audits. We have to keep our campuses looking stellar and up-to-date,” he continues. To that end, Porter has chaired DCCCD's Facilities Services Council since his arrival in 1988. “This group meets monthly, and we're all on the same page and have dynamic interaction in solving the [physical space] needs of the district,” he says.
“One of the benefits of focusing on campus infrastructure is that it keeps our campuses looking new,” Porter continues. “Potential students choose schools based on the appearance of the facilities. Our effort is to maintain our physical space along with our low tuition rate. This helps draw alert and discerning student populations to our campuses. That's why we've seen such growth in our enrollment.”
APRYL MOTLEY, Columbia, Maryland, covers higher education business issues for Business Officer.