Volume IV: What works, what matters, what lasts

Planning Spaces for Science

October 27, 2005

For over a decade, Project Kaleidoscope has been a major resource for campuses planning spaces for science—whether new construction, an addition or the renovation of spaces large and small. The upcoming PKAL Facilities Planning Workshop at Meredith College in the spring (March 3 – 5, 2006) is the 30th PKAL workshop, seminar or colloquium PKAL has hosted on facilities planning since 1992. Over 700 campuses from all sectors of higher education, from all parts of the country, have sent teams to these events. From these years of activity, 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, to figuring out how to secure the capital needed for such a major investment in the physical plant.

Four different perspectives on planning are presented in this posting.

We include a “letter to the president” from a Keck/PKAL consulting team, identifying some of the key issues that need to be addressed by institutional leadership to advance the planning process most effectively. Also included are two essays about the “nuts and bolts” of the planning process. An analysis, by lab designer Richard M. Heinz, analyzes how trends in how science is learned and taught and how new directions in science are having an impact on how spaces are planned and shaped. An essay by architect Carol Wedge, and her colleagues Alida Zweidler and Bruce Metz offers innovative strategies from the world of finance that can be helpful in “planning for change” in the context of making decisions about capital projects. Finally, Brooklyn College’s “mission and vision” for their new Science Complex illustrates the power of a collective effort to shape the future of a community.

As we work to reorganize the PKAL web site, we will continue to present essays, stories, reports and lessons learned from the work of those imagining and realizing 21st century spaces for 21st century 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 the planning. At a past PKAL facilities planning workshop, one team described the ideal 21st century science facility in this way: “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.” In our collective effort to shape new facilities, that is a pretty good goal to strive toward.