Administrators need to do their homework to provide a reasonable vision to designers
Often, when architects begin work for a school, they are given the institution’s previous master plans to review. However, it soon becomes clear that few, if any, of the recommendations of the former plans have been implemented.
To avoid this common fate of facility master plans, the institution must develop a reasonable vision to guide the planner. The planning process will help to articulate that vision.
Required homework addresses long-term issues affecting the preparation and results of the plan. Preplanning forces participants to decide what their school should be in the future and how it should get there. Critical issues for preplanning include mission, image, enrollment projections, curriculum, extracurricular activities, housing, parking and funding to implement the resulting plan.
The mission of an institution may be engraved in stone for all to see; however, as the market changes, it is always valuable to reexamine those basic tenets which govern operations. Is the mission statement still valid? The planner must be told why the school exists, what it is supposed to do and how it is supposed to do it before planning begins.
Is the image of the school consistent with the mission? An unbiased outsider’s viewpoint is helpful. Should academic and nonacademic facets of the educational experience be integrated? Are faculty full or part-time participants in campus life? Is the local community welcomed at campus amenities such as the student center, resource center and physical education facility? Does the institution reach out to its community as a good neighbor?
Facility requirements are directly affected by the number of students. Enrollment projections must be carefully analyzed as far into the future as possible. Is the market for students local, statewide, regional, national or international? Is the likely pool of applicants and the percentage of those likely to attend increasing, decreasing or status quo? What is the retention rate for enrolled students? Can it be improved? Future student demographics are important. Will the population shift toward the nontraditional older, part-time student? Which academic areas are likely to be the hottest sellers? Does your institution lead or follow its competition?