Posted on August 18, 2022
Colleges and universities in Indiana and throughout the Midwest largely skipped the early-2000s fad of building elaborate student amenities like rock climbing walls and lazy rivers. Instead, schools like Indiana State University and Rose Hulman Institute of Technology remained focused on student academics and athletics by creating efficient and effective facilities.
Buildings alone can’t address all challenges, but can help
The design is how it works. Students who live and study on campus need buildings designed to help them learn and grow as people. Students may come into campus with little to no knowledge of nutrition, how to focus or tackle large projects and world challenges, or struggle to meet new friends. Effective and intentional building design can help.
Better nutrition helps students focus and study. Sycamore Towers at Indiana State University underwent a massive renovation that reimagined how something as important and integral as eating happened on campus. Dining halls can display healthy food options along with nutritional signage to help students see how one option might be calorically better than another, such as whole-grain versus white bread. Or, simply being near breakfast meal can encourage students who often skip breakfast to eat something.
Having community spaces that highlight school services helps students stay on track, focused, and less likely to drop out or fall behind. Community spaces and lobbies can help students connect with other classmates, cheer on sports teams, and be informed. Open community spaces can also connect freshman students with health, tutoring, and advising services. Studies show many first-year students often aren’t aware of these free or included opportunities.
Even students who don’t show an interest in athletics benefit from sports facilities that support multiple uses. At ISU’s Hulman Center, the campus can convert the basketball stadium into a concert venue, conference hall, expo center, or any number of other event venues. The result is a dynamic campus with flexible event space and a sense of community.
Efficient buildings make for efficient learning and affordability
Cost of attendance is a top consideration for most—maybe nearly all—students at most universities. Students haven’t shown an interest in enrolling at schools with movie rooms and extreme amenities. However, affordable spaces that are comfortable and affordable do boost enrollment numbers.
When visitors and prospective students come through the “front door” of Indiana State University at Indiana State University’s Moore Welcome Center, they are greeted by open spaces that feel collegiate, modern, and interactive with touch screens and information on the university’s many academic programs.
Our team of engineers, in collaboration with others on the design team helped upgrade ISU’s Erickson Hall in 2013. Dorm rooms were designed with academic themes, and classrooms and meeting spaces integrated into the building. Students also enjoyed air conditioning for the first time at this dormitory. Erickson Hall gives students a space to meet other students, contains quieter and louder spaces for entertainment and focus, and aesthetics that promote success and achievement to each individual. Each dorm also gives students the opportunity to make the space their own with personal touches common to dorms.
As consulting engineers, we have a lot of ways to empower students, faculty, and building users to interact. An emphasis on communication, comfort, and efficiency—in costs and performance—allows everyone to excel, grow, and connect to their school, peers, and community.