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Planning for Higher Education Journal | V44N3 April–June 2016


Vinicius Gorgati and Pablo Savid-Buteler


Why Campus Matters

Reflecting on Models of the Future Campus Within a New Paradigm for Campus Living and Learning by Vinicius Gorgati and Pablo Savid-Buteler

The current environment simply will not allow fixed models of educational delivery to thrive as they once did.

INTRODUCTI ON CO L L EGES A ND UNI V ER SI T IES are constantly repositioning

their approaches to academic and student life to stay ahead of shifting demographic and financial realities. The widespread

Around the world, changes in educational approach require reorienting to support new educational models and recasting both what higher education is and how a physical environment can serve it.

integration of online learning, proliferation of crossuniversity registrations and degrees, and rise of universities organized as multi-destination operations at a national and international scale elicit the question: Does campus still matter? This question isn’t new, but the contours of the discussion continue to change as the campus is increasingly understood as a conduit for amplifying mission, curriculum, and pedagogy. In our work we see the idea of campus stretching to

CONTE X T: DI VER SIT Y, CURRI CULU M , AND FUNDING In the United States, schools today face intense pressure to recognize and incorporate diversity as a strong driver of campus life, provide accessibility on multiple levels (from the campus to the classroom to the web), and consolidate and build within limited footprints. The campus, as the intersection between academic life and student experience,

encompass more than it has ever had to before.

must provide places for belonging. Building inclusive and

Responding to the need for new skills, training, and

In fact, this sense of belonging is the essential jumping-

education, many institutions have reimagined their curricula to span departments and schools, which means that students are on the move. Here in the United States, there is a school offering students international instruction in countries around the globe. Abroad we have worked with a school system doing away with the entire concentrationbased degree system it has always known, moving toward instruction that hinges on holistic cross-disciplinary problem solving.

accepting environments is critical to cultivating community. off point for communities to learn, challenge, work out differences, and ultimately evolve. Abroad, a new paradigm for campus living and learning is emerging due to strong pressure for growth and rapid expansion in the fields of teaching and research along with the need to overhaul outdated learning models in an increasingly competitive higher education market. With greater land availability and alternative models for funding, some international campuses are disrupting decades of tradition, reinventing themselves while simultaneously Read online at

Planning for Higher Education Journal | V44N3 April–June 2016

setting regional or national agendas for academics and


Vinicius Gorgati and Pablo Savid-Buteler THE C A M PUS A S TESTI N G GRO UND

student life. While in many instances phasing is born out of financial Funding is a challenge everywhere. With tuition at

demands, utilizing it as a tool to test, refine, or validate

historically high rates and unceasing demands for

programmatic and spatial strategies allows campus

maintenance of aging building and site infrastructure,

leadership to promote change that is process oriented and

schools need to look for alternative ways of adapting. This has

organic. At Syracuse University, new or repurposed buildings

manifested, for example, in the exploration of public-private

and landscapes are positioned as extensions of the connecting

partnerships (P3s), which bring the forces of privatization and

tissue so as to provide campus-wide access and leverage

monetization to the campus realm. Many schools have taken

space programming as an anchor to integration strategies

on a development mind-set to relieve debt burdens associated

(figure 1). Using phasing as a tool, these strategies enable

with capital investments—the full effects of which have yet

experimentation during initial works and subsequent infusion

to play out. Beyond creatively sourcing funds, many schools

of lessons learned as the campus plans future steps.

need to reinvent themselves and their offers to respond to faster-paced changes in pedagogy and a more selective

In some instances, this same construct has led to the

student body with a broader geographical footprint.

development of pilot, temporary projects designed to test and reposition student life-related initiatives in anticipation of

This shifting ground has moved planning and design

higher investments in programs and facilities. Our work with

thinking to new platforms that focus on analytics, modeling,

Dartmouth College yielded a repositioning of residential life

and scenario planning as the springboards for effective

through a new house system imbued with a significant new

adaptation and implementation. Our approach has evolved

construct for student engagement (figure 2). A central piece

from master planning that defined strict directives for

of the strategy involves temporary centers built in modular

physical development to framework planning that accepts

units to allow a five-year testing period during which these

constant change and evolving demands and navigates new

temporary spaces can be used as laboratories for different

modes of educational delivery while contending with global

program mixes and activities. Ultimately, that insight will


inform the way existing structures are repositioned and new ones are designed.

M ODEL S OF THE FUTURE C A M PUS Our collaborative experiences with colleges and universities in North America and abroad offer complementary perspectives on the thinking of the contemporary campus and illustrate current trends, pressure points, and issues. Here, we examine a few recastings of the traditional campus and educational model that will likely emerge as inspiration for the next decade of evolution.

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Vinicius Gorgati and Pablo Savid-Buteler

Figure 1 Syracuse University: Campus Master Plan

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates.

Figure 2 Dartmouth College: Housing Swarm

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates.

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Planning for Higher Education Journal | V44N3 April–June 2016



Vinicius Gorgati and Pablo Savid-Buteler

it among the top research institutions in the country. In a similar vein, thanks to the absorption of the UMDNJ’s School

The consolidation of New Jersey’s state schools is an

of Osteopathic Medicine in Glassboro and the development of

interesting example of the way that different schools in a

enhanced facilities funded by state grants, Rowan University

statewide system can use strategic alliances or mergers

achieved a larger geographical footprint while becoming one

to diversify their academic focus, add critical resources

of three major research institutions in the state (figure 3).

and research capabilities, and increase access to funding.

Lastly, Rutgers and Rowan, via a partnership in Camden,

The legislative framework has changed the face of higher

developed a health science hub that allows the institutions to

education in the state in several ways: First, the merger of

share new research-oriented facilities and helps jump-start

most of the New Jersey School of Medicine and Dentistry

development in an area of the city that badly needs economic

(UMDNJ) schools and Rutgers University allowed Rutgers to

and urban regeneration (figure 4).

significantly increase its enrollment and budget, positioning

Figure 3 Rowan University: Campus Master Plan

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates. Read online at

Planning for Higher Education Journal | V44N3 April–June 2016


Vinicius Gorgati and Pablo Savid-Buteler

Figure 4 Rutgers-Rowan Partnership: Health Science Hub

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates and RAMSA.

These partnership strategies within New Jersey’s higher

learning programs that operate during off-hours on campus,

education system illuminate an area of opportunity that

graduate institutes and executive education for professional

other state and private schools should consider as a creative

elites, and applied research centers at campus edges that meld

approach to growth.

industry and academia.


An existing commercial center and technology park also contribute to this successful model, and new university-

The Catholic University of Peru in Lima employs a business

affiliated ventures are on the horizon: a convention center; a

model that defines the very shape, character, and footprint

university hotel; co-working and incubator spaces for start-

of its campus in the community in which it is immersed. The

ups; student residences; and art, gastronomy, and commercial

school uses real estate holdings and city partnerships to offer

outlets. The Catholic University of Peru’s footprint is more

a mix of programs that reinforce one another. It has cultivated

than a campus; it is a network of interrelated academic,

a vast ecosystem of educational offers that support enrollment

social, and business cells that create centers and vectors of

and revenue streams, including affiliated high schools feeding

activity in the city—its formlessness a critical component of

students into the undergraduate program, tertiary institutes

its identity and success (figures 5, 6, and 7).

offering skills training, continuing education and distanceRead online at

Planning for Higher Education Journal | V44N3 April–June 2016


Vinicius Gorgati and Pablo Savid-Buteler

Figure 5 Catholic University of Peru: Campus Master Plan Overview

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates.

Figure 6 Catholic University of Peru: Campus Master Plan Cityview

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates. Read online at

Planning for Higher Education Journal | V44N3 April–June 2016


Vinicius Gorgati and Pablo Savid-Buteler

Figure 7 Catholic University of Peru: Streetscape

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates. THE W O RL D A S C A M PUS

The core of Minerva’s academic experience is oriented around small groups that convene in a virtualized classroom

The Minerva schools redefine student and academic life

environment called Forum. Students and professors can

experiences by offering a four-year undergraduate program

connect to the Forum, which is capped at 18 students, in

with instruction available across seven different countries.

person or virtually. It’s a highly personalized, interactive

The schools’ San Francisco home base is just a single building

environment that is also highly technology mediated. While

that is more residence hall than campus. From around the

Minerva’s approach is a mere three years old and its success

world, students, faculty, and advisors connect face-to-face

is yet to be proven, in the context of a globalized world—

or virtually, breaking from the concept of a student life

where the average person spends more than 10 hours a day

experience restricted to the traditional campus. As Minerva

interacting with digital media and teenagers spend close to

advertises, “The best way to learn about the world is to live in

30 hours per week on computers—the schools’ academic and

it. Unlike life on a sheltered campus, the student experience

student life platforms seem more contextual than most.

at Minerva challenges you to engage with a diversity of individuals, customs, communities, and societies” (Minerva Schools at KGI 2016, ¶ 1).

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Planning for Higher Education Journal | V44N3 April–June 2016


Born out of a presidential decree, Yachay Tech University in Ecuador is an interesting example of the strategic value of higher education in the economic development of a region—or in this case, a country. Opened in 2014, the university is a central part of a fastmoving planned development for a large new agricultural-, industrial-, and service-oriented community in the province of Imbabura, Ecuador. The university’s mission is to promote scientific research and create networks of knowledge that strengthen Ecuador’s national development. Interpreting the government’s mandate to advance technological development and amplify its impact on national industry, the university offers a dual training program, one part focused on academic


Vinicius Gorgati and Pablo Savid-Buteler

instruction and the other on direct work application. Due to its competitive enrollment and high-profile faculty- and government-promoted scholarships, in just two years Yachay Tech has become the most competitive institution to gain admission to in the country. Also remarkable is the setting the university is helping create in and around rural communities. The emerging “City of Knowledge” is a 5,000-hectare sustainable development that places the university campus at the heart of a new mixed-use town and includes a smattering of research institutes; chemical, agricultural, and science laboratories and incubator spaces; land preservation areas; communityrun intensive agriculture land areas; and newly restored rural communities. The Yachay project is fast becoming a model for integrating university campuses into developing regions worldwide (figures 8 and 9).

Figure 8 Yachay Tech University: Campus Overview

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates. Read online at

Planning for Higher Education Journal | V44N3 April–June 2016

Figure 9 Yachay Tech University: The Campus Core, Comprising the Restored Hacienda and Sugar Mill Complex


Vinicius Gorgati and Pablo Savid-Buteler

academics. Second, it has access to significant funding from international funds and private investors. Lastly, experiences in applied research and development are shared across international “Centers of Excellence.” The Laureate International Universities proposition presents an interesting alternative in developing strategic academic alliances and centralized management at an international scale.

THINK/M AKE— APPROACHES TO DEL I VERY AND ADAP TATI ON Up against such divergent and impactful trends, how can schools possibly plan and build with confidence? The current environment simply will not allow fixed models of educational delivery to thrive as they once did. Rather, ambiguity is the one force schools can almost certainly count on in the years ahead, and so their responses must be informed and flexible. Institutions around the world must thoroughly understand their contexts, their end users, their funding mechanisms, their greatest assets and weaknesses, and the most relevant opportunities and threats on the horizon.

Image courtesy of Sasaki Associates.

When helping schools develop their master plans and design their buildings and grounds to be relevant in the decades to


come, we design for dynamic contexts and different schoolspecific realities. It is an approach that facilitates the right

The Laureate International Universities may be the ultimate

frameworks for institutions so that when new conditions and

model in global university operations, with a portfolio of

pressures inevitably arise, they are able to tackle the resulting

85 campuses worldwide. Since its founding in 1999, the

issues at a variety of scales. This work requires several key

organization has steadily built a confederation of local


and regional campuses with autonomous curriculum and operations. The consortium benefits in several ways from the crossover between its many institutions and its vast international footprint. First, the strategic vision and direction of the partnership is imparted by a high-profile central board, which has seen leadership from Mexico’s former president Ernesto Zedillo, former U.S. president Bill Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, and high-profile

»» Contextualization: Understanding what the particular challenges are and where the institution sits relative to dynamic peer models. »» Scenario planning: Thinking and designing for fluid outcomes. »» Road-mapping implementation: Developing interlinked strategies for delivering on mission, taking into account physical and financial opportunities and constraints. Read online at

Planning for Higher Education Journal | V44N3 April–June 2016

»» Virtualization and visualization of outcomes and project scenarios: Employing data-informed visualization and prioritization methodologies so that institutions can prioritize wisely. »» Total environment design: Developing coordinated programming of interior and exterior experiences. »» From planned frameworks to rapid prototyping: Developing temporary campus environments and pilots


Vinicius Gorgati and Pablo Savid-Buteler

Instead of relying on one model of delivery held up as best, institutions need to pay attention to the vast and varied innovations happening on campuses everywhere. Though schools will need to take different approaches depending on their unique circumstances, there are some common trends that will likely continue to dominate the evolution of educational systems in the near future:

for building and space prototypes. »» Informed investment: Making adaptations based on prototyping and testing feedback, adjusting approaches and calibrating investment as needed. These methodologies together help give schools an accurate understanding of their current state, provide them with tools to understand changes over time, and offer a means for testing their approaches so that big investments are more likely to yield the intended payoff.

The hard delineation between study and real-world application will continue to fade. To great media attention, Laszlo Bock, Google’s head of people operations, said recently that the tech giant doesn’t care much about grades or pedigree (Whiteside 2015). It cares far more about whether prospective employees demonstrate leadership, can creatively maneuver in the world, and have ample curiosity and a dose of grit. Schools are looking for ways to weave in partnerships with industry, strengthen research partnerships, and diversify modes of instruction so students can develop the skill-sets that will help them most in transitioning

WHAT NOW? A FUTURE IN THE M AK ING With the accelerated adoption of widespread access to information through online channels over the last 10 years, the playing field has shifted for institutions the world over. Where knowledge and information were once the great differentiators for those venerated institutions with the best libraries, they are now just the portal—what schools do with that knowledge and information has become the key. Schools today are looking outside themselves, examining peer institutions, looking to industry, and listening to youth for cues on how to redefine their offers. And while for many years a small number of top institutions around the world set the precedent for all other schools aspiring to educate better, that lauded homogeneous model is no longer an unquestioned approach. Instead of relying on one model of delivery held up as best, institutions need to pay attention to the vast and varied innovations happening on campuses everywhere.

from school to career. There will be more co-op programs, university incubators, student/faculty start-ups, industry and corporate trainee programs, and sponsorships cropping up in the years to come. Campuses will continue to pursue global reach, but it is likely that they will increasingly pursue partnerships with local schools over exporting their educational model to farflung locales. With greater appreciation for different campus approaches and authentic learning experiences within local contexts, it makes less and less sense for schools to open satellite campuses in cities half a world away. This means, too, that the move toward designing for more diverse audiences will continue to strengthen. And with more geographical spread, it goes without saying that online-based learning will continue to proliferate to enable truly global education. Consolidation and mergers make sense within a constrained financial setting. School systems will

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Vinicius Gorgati and Pablo Savid-Buteler

be wise to explore ways to capitalize on inefficiencies or

Sustainability and environmentalism take on a

untapped opportunities to share amenities and resources—

greater role in shaping design than ever before.

especially if the funding challenges recently facing U.S.

Environmental regulations and building code updates

schools in particular persist.

are transforming building benchmarks—with significant implications for design—and giving rise to a new kind of

The trend toward privatization of certain portions

contextualism. It isn’t just a matter of staying conscious

of campus will alleviate cost burdens but also

of material choices anymore. Taking a holistic perspective

introduce new—perhaps unforeseen—dynamics.

on building leads to nontraditional new aesthetics of

There is much discussion already about how public-private

environmental design. Stormwater management regulations,

partnerships (P3s) mutually benefit schools and developer

for example, can be as determinant a factor in design as

partners and how these partnerships can be structured.

zoning, program, or architectural/campus context. At

However, it’s far less clear how the stewardship of these P3

Georgetown University, for example, the new Northeast

developments will fare over the long term. While schools are

Triangle Residence Hall incorporates as part of its design

always thinking in terms of long-term planning, trying to

concept roof gardens that replicate the vegetation, bird

build for durability and flexibility, private-sector developers

habitat, and stormwater management infrastructure that

do not necessarily have a vested interest in building for

would otherwise have occurred naturally on the site (figure

a long-term horizon if it means increasing costs in the

10). Designers are thinking of buildings and landscapes as

short term. P3s are certainly a creative financing option

living machines that become holistic environmental elements,

that can deliver positive outcomes for both developers and

turning regulations that can be seen as constraints into

institutions, but schools will have to carefully structure their

drivers of creativity.

partnerships to ensure that their campus needs are met long after the terms of a P3 agreement expire. Figure 10 Georgetown University: Northeast Triangle Residence Hall Composite View

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Vinicius Gorgati and Pablo Savid-Buteler

constant change, where adaptation, reinvention, and innovation will become the norm, campus will matter as

Here we have examined schools in developing nations

much as it ever has.

that are the catalysts for national industry and economy, domestic institutions experimenting with prototyping for better planning and building outcomes, a global consortium model, a school with a global footprint and technologydriven instruction, and a consolidation of state schools

REFERENCES Minerva Schools at KGI. 2016. Student Life: Understanding through Experience. Retrieved April 29, 2016, from the World Wide Web: www.

for greater efficiencies—all to illustrate just how much has

changed domestically and internationally in the world of

Whiteside, L. 2015. Google Doesn’t Care Where You Went to College.

campus planning and design in a short span of time. New

CNN Money, April 9. Retrieved April 29, 2016, from the World Wide

campus forms will continue to emerge, combining traditional aspects of the campus with a boundless number of features


we already see in action. With an ever-expanding array of educational options, we should also expect a redistribution


and realignment of campuses as geographic centers of knowledge. While some universities may perpetuate

V INI CIUS GO RG AT I, A I A , L EED A P, is a principal and architect

themselves as “niches of specialized education,” other smaller

and heads the Campus Studio at Sasaki. His rich experience

institutions may consolidate or be forced to adapt to the

spans architecture and design for student life, residential life,

demographic, industrial, and urban development trends of

and academic facilities for institutions of higher education

the future.

around the world. Read his bio at about-us/People/Vinicius/Gorgati/.

What these examples also show is that as much as ambiguity produces challenges it also produces vast opportunities. Like

PA BLO S AV ID - BU T EL ER , L EED A P, is a managing principal

any industry, when competition gets stiffer and new entrants

and architect and leads the architecture and interior design

bring new approaches, the consumer—our students—can only

practice at Sasaki. He also leads the Campus Studio’s

benefit. It’s refreshing that certain campus archetypes will

international efforts, with a particular focus on work in

not be espoused forever; it means that we have freedom to

Central and South America. His experience encompasses


both urban and campus environments. Read his bio at http://

It’s refreshing that certain campus archetypes will not be espoused forever; it means that we have freedom to evolve. The next generation certainly needs this evolution. Climate issues, rapid technological advances, the rise of entrepreneurism, vast changes in the modern workplace, industrialization barreling (unsustainably) forward, and the unrest that ensues require our youth to gain the best preparation for the ambiguity ahead. In the context of

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Planning for Higher Education Society for College and University Planning Š 2016 by the Society for College and University Planning All rights reserved. Published 2016. ISSN 0736-0983 Indexed in the Current Index to Journals in Education (ERIC), Higher Education Abstracts, and Contents Pages in Education. Also available from ProQuest Information and Learning, 789 E. Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, Michigan



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SCUP Journal: Why Campus Matters  
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Reflecting on Models of the Future Campus Within a New Paradigm for Campus Living and Learning by Vinicius Gorgati, AIA and Pablo Savid-But...