Expertise - Aaron Schwaz - Putting things in the Right Place
Aaron Schwarz for EDUTech 

Many new university campuses now under development in India are being designed as multi-level facilities.  This condition is necessary due to land costs and availability.  Designing campus buildings with multiple floors is a complicated affair and the challenge should not be taken lightly.  In order to do it right, it needs very careful planning and a true understanding of how college buildings are used on a daily basis.
The biggest challenge is how to move students vertically through the building.  In the suburban or rural campuses, most classroom buildings are designed to two or three stories.  In this mode the students are moving about using the stair systems and they are not reliant on elevators or escalators.  Reliance on elevators and escalators come into play as soon as we begin to exceed three to four stories.  Elevators are in lower buildings, but their primary purpose and sizing is based on their use by the physically challenged and for service, not for moving large quantities of people quickly.
Our urban fabric has been adorned with high rise office and residential buildings for decades; however these uses are quite different than a campus building.  The need to move people in an academic setting is quite different than the office building or residential environment.  Rule of thumb planning suggests that office environments are based on one person per approximately 100 usable square feet while classroom spaces are designed at about one person per every 15 to 25 usable square feet or four to six times the number of people.   For more please contact Plan A Architecture + Design PLLC at
In an office building the commuter rush is extended over an hour or so, while such luxury of time does not exist between classes.  If the design of an academic building places high occupancy spaces high up in the building then the quantity, capacity and speed of the elevators or escalators will need to be sized accordingly. In addition, life safety is critical and the fire stairs need to be designed to safely evacuate much larger numbers of occupants. These vertical transportation requirements will result in a much bigger loss factor and far more inefficient buildings than experienced in low rise structures.  The cost of the buildings will increase substantially, while the resulting usable square footage for teaching dramatically decreases.

The faculty has a huge impact on the quality of any institution.  Recruiting great faculty, providing them an environment which helps them excel and retaining the best are key challenges that all institutions face.  Yet very little time is invested in the planning and design of the faculty office environment.  One president told their master planning faculty steering committee that one of the most important decisions they will make is where and how to locate the faculty offices on their campus.  The steering committee members were bewildered by this statement, especially considering other seemingly more pressing issues such as what is the library and classroom of the future. 
New teaching methodologies and technologies have begun to shape new physical constructs for instructional space, but very little advancement has taken place in regard to the faculty office environment. Student engagement with faculty shapes students futures and is one of the most important parts of the college experience.  We have recognized that a high percentage of the learning experience is happening outside the formal classroom setting.  Therefore, contact with faculty outside the classroom itself is important.

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