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1. Photo Worthy Design Features – Taking and sharing photos on social media has become almost instinctual for students of this generation; it’s all about finding what is Instagram-worthy. For example, millions of people travel from across the world to take pictures at iconic places like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, Cloud Gate “The Bean” in Chicago, Illinois, or the Statue of Liberty in New York, New York. We can use architecture and design to recreate this concept on a smaller scale by creating iconic moments around your campus. Whether it be a cascading multistory feature wall in a lobby, an interesting staircase, or a historic building on campus, these “photo-worthy” design features can help your school stand out among others by catching the eye of students who are touring a half-dozen or more campuses.

2. Community Space at a Smaller Scale – Large communal spaces have always been a growing trend in higher education design, but COVID-19 has forced colleges and universities to accommodate smaller numbers while continuing to foster a sense of community. One way to achieve this is by finding underutilized spaces within your existing floor plan to create “pockets” for smaller communal spaces. These spaces can then be reserved by small groups of students for study or collaboration sessions during scheduled timeslots. By providing several smaller gathering spaces around your campus rather than one large communal space – we can still encourage collaboration, but do so safely.

3. Space to Focus – While providing community areas is important for collaboration, providing focus areas is just as important when designing university spaces. For students who focus best in an environment with buzzing background noise, a café may be the perfect place. For others, who require quiet time with minimal distraction, it is important to provide private breakout spaces. When designing a classroom building—whether new construction or renovation—make sure to carve out space for small – one person – rooms that provide students a place to step away from distraction. If you are working within an existing space where moving walls isn’t an option, you can create these quiet spaces with furniture.

4. The Ability to Work Anywhere – Now, more than ever, students expect to be able to do their work nearly anywhere. Whether in a classroom, lounge, coffee shop, or in the hallway between classes, it is important to equip your space with mobile technology and provide flexibility to students wherever they need it. This can be as simple as integrating power into a built-in bench or creating breakout areas equipped with tv monitors for students to collaborate in small groups. The design of your space should make it easy for students to create, interact, and share-content in real-time.

Kirsten Weston
Design Associate

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