Handbook on Facilities

Supplement to PKAL Volume III: Structures for Science

For over a decade, PKAL has assisted colleges and universities in planning spaces for the natural science communities on their campus. From many workshops, seminars, and consultancies, PKAL has assembled an extensive archive on each stage of the planning process— from the point of grounding planning in institutional mission and articulating a compelling vision, through the stages of considering options and opportunities to achieve spaces that contribute to institutional distinction for years to come, to figuring out how to secure resources needed to build and maintain this major investment in the physical plant.

This focus on facilities is central to PKAL's kaleidoscopic mission, to emphasize that each facet of the undergraduate STEM learning environment must reflect a vision of student learning and that the individual facets must fit together in a pattern that makes sense in the particular institutional context, given its identity and mission.

We present essays, stories, reports, and lessons learned from the work of those imagining and realizing 21st century spaces for 21st century STEM learning communities.

If spaces tell stories, and we believe they do, what future generations will read in these spaces for science is that the focus was on the quality of student learning, that community was both central to the process of planning and a result of that planning. At a 2003 PKAL workshop, participants suggested that: "The ideal science facility should be adaptable and agile; it should bring delight to the lives of those it touches— all qualities we desire also for our students." This is a vision toward which we all aspire in planning new spaces for science that will serve generations of undergraduates learning in American colleges and universities with distinction.

The time for planning new spaces for science is a unique opportunity for academic leaders to explore and establish a vision for their institution's future that signals unequivocally a commitment to preparing their 21st century students for the challenges and opportunities of 21st century society.

Arriving at such a vision calls for persistent and open discussions engaging all members of the campus community. PKAL's "vision" of a community that works suggests the relationship between the character of the collaborating community and the character and quality of the spaces that emerge from their work. There are several PKAL resources to spark, advance, and inform these discussions:

In addition to insights from such "check-lists," reports from Keck/PKAL consultancies suggest how to identify and address critical challenges in the planning process.