I see a big opportunity for schools, architects, and general contractors to join forces to enhance the physical environment of higher education. This can be done by restoring and re-purposing the traditional structures on campus that carry the heritage of the institution. Landmark buildings are in need of restoration, and more modern interior amenities should be incorporated in the design. Enhancements can also be accomplished by sensitive development of new facilities that complement or even redefine the essence of the particular community. Although it has suffered from leaks, the Stata Center on the MIT campus serves as a good example of innovative academic design.
Re-View is very active in the restoration of landmark buildings on college campuses. We are currently working on projects at the College of William and Mary and HarvardUniversity. We are manufacturing historically correct wood window replicas that exactly match the existing window systems except for the inclusion of insulated glass for energy efficiency. These changes enable the colleges to achieve LEED designation while they respect the historic design of the buildings. The work on the exterior of these buildings must be done very meticulously in order to restore the traditional look of the buildings. On the interior, the building systems and layouts are being redefined to provide a more comfortable lifestyle for the college dormitory experience.
The next decade will be challenging for colleges and universities across the country. The winners are going to be the ones that make investments in their facilities. It should prove to be an exciting time for the construction industry. As my second daughter starts through the college selection process this next year, I’ll be watching to see if I detect changes being made on the campuses we visit. I’m sure the environment on the campus will play as large a part in the selection process as it did for her sister. I only hope she chooses a college that also has a strong curriculum to match.
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