December 3, 2020

Q & A: Sasaki planning principal discusses campus design

Q & A with Dan Kenney, a planning principal in Sasaki’s Campus Studio:

Kenney leads Sasaki’s campus planning and site design practice group in the Campus Studio. He has directed campus planning and design projects for more than 37 years.

Kenney has a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Colorado. He also received a Masters of Architecture and Masters of City Planning in Urban Design from the University of Pennsylvania. He currently teaches campus planning in the Harvard Graduate School of Design Executive Education program.

1. What are a couple current trends in campus design in the U.S.?

One of the biggest trends in campus design is creation of hybrid buildings. They combine compatible uses into one building, encouraging shared facilities and resources that bring vitality to the educational environment. Hybrids often reduce the amount of physical space required of building one facility for each use. A common example of a hybrid building is a combination library and student center.

Another trend in campus design is the addition of informal spaces for student and faculty engagement, both inside and outside the building. Opportunities for informal indoor space include food venues, lounges, widened hallways with seating and intimate outdoor spaces with movable seating and Wi-Fi access. In a climate like St. Louis’s, with proper solar orientation, these spaces can be used almost year-round.

Sustainable design is yet another important trend in campus design. Historically considered at the building level, more and more master plans are incorporating sustainable design principles in the planning process. Webster’s master plan considers landscapes that support natural systems, ensures that building orientation takes advantage of solar orientation and suggests LEED certification for all new buildings.

2. Are interdisciplinary classrooms and spaces a new trend in campus design?

Interdisciplinary classrooms are indeed a current trend in campus design. There are a number of successful examples throughout the country where combining different programs within one building results in greater interdisciplinary collaborations.

3. How does Webster’s new master plan incorporate these trends?

Recognizing that different paths of study are related and often support one another, the proposed interdisciplinary sciences building accommodates both the laboratory sciences and other arts and sciences programs. Building programs included in the master plan include significant informal learning and social spaces that allow for more meaningful student and faculty interaction. From a new quadrangle to more intimate courtyards, the landscape master plan also creates a variety of new open spaces on campus.

4. Is there a correlation between these trends and new trends in learning?

A new trend in learning is to encourage more peer-to-peer learning and interdisciplinary group project work. Creating hybrid buildings, buildings with interdisciplinary program and informal gather spaces all support this trend.

 

Click here for more information on the proposed master plan.

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