October 17, 2013

Trends in Higher Education: The 2013 Ohio Educational Environments Forum

Being involved in most of our firm’s higher education projects, I was naturally excited to be invited to the Ohio Educational Environments Forum sponsored by KI Furnishings and Contract Source Inc. as a guest panelist on October 9th. With projects like Muskingum University’s University Center, which will begin construction this fall and Lorain County Community College’s recently completed Ben and Jane Norton Culinary Arts Center under my belt, I design knowing the importance of spaces and buildings that will support and foster the education of others. With a passion for life-long learning, I looked forward to exchanging ideas about spaces programmed for education.

Study space at Ohio State University's Mason Hall, which Bialosky + Partners collaborated with Kallman McKinnell and Wood for the renovation.

The forum included two presentations followed by a panel discussion on changes in higher education based on new teaching pedagogies, shifts in campus and student culture, and how technology affects the design of higher education spaces and buildings. The opening presentations covered a lot of ground, and gave engaging examples of 21st century learning spaces:

  • Amy Kiefer, Vice President, Education Markets for KI presented a CEU on Advanced Learning Spaces and Trends in Higher Education.
  • Paul Mitnick, Senior Account Manager, Soundcom Systems discussed applications of how technology has been implemented in some recent projects.

The "Learn 2 Tablet Armchair" from KI.

Lastly, the panel discussed the top themes and challenges each panel member sees in their roles and answered questions from the audience. I sat on the panel with our opening presenters, Amy and Paul, in addition to:

  • Jack Miner, Senior Associate Registrar, The Ohio State University
  • Tom Kemp, Director of Instructional Technology & Learning Management, Ashland University

We had great questions from the audience and the panelists discussed everything from how to maximize classroom utilization factors, safety on campus, incorporating distance learning courses into class offerings, and how to optimize learning environments with minimal funding. Education in general, and specifically higher education, is changing at a fast pace.  We as architects and designers have to understand the challenges our clients are facing and offer creative and effective solutions.  Many of the trends we see in corporate America are trickling down to higher education:

  • Generational shifts – Millennials are driving the trends in higher education and beyond
  • Global implications – the world is constantly getting smaller and more connected
  • Collaboration
  • Technology – of today, of the future, and how to plan for changes
  • Ergonomics/ health and safety

This chart highlights the differences in generations, and how these effect learning and society as a whole.

In addition to these factors, issues specific to higher education also have an impact on design:

  • Demographic shifts of the “typical” student
  • Teaching Pedagogies – the students of today no longer want to be lectured to, classes are becoming more interactive and collaborative
  • Blended Learning – the combination of online and offline learning
  • Age of our higher education institutions and their structures
  • Budget limits – doing more with less
  • Extending learning beyond the classroom – with technology, social media and collaboration, learning happens everywhere
  • Increase in STEM education – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

Collaborative learning spaces are being integrated into many higher education projects, as a result of Gen Z growing up and going to college.

This video, "Did You Know?/ Shift Happens" (Version 6, 2012) reinforces many of the ideas that are changing higher education. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVQ1ULfQawk[/youtube] Our educational environments must transform and be designed to support the learning environments of the future.  There are no best formulas for these spaces.  Key team members must recognize the relationship between teaching style and physical space, acknowledge that change is inevitable and faster than ever, and determine what is best for each institution, building, classroom, and learning space.  There are no one-size-fits all solutions.  Instead, an assortment of creative solutions should be included to fit the needs of their individual circumstance, students, and faculty.

For further reading: The Learning Environment Sweet Spot. Amy Kiefer, KI Vice President, Education Markets

February 20, 2013

BPA Achieves LEED Silver for OSU’s Mason Hall Rennovation

Bialosky + Partners Architects teamed with Kallmann McKinnell & Wood Architects, a Boston-based firm with an outstanding international reputation for excellence in design in the last forty years, to design the renovation of Mason Hall for the OSU Fisher College of Business. The project included conversion of library stack and study space into a first floor student resource center with breakout rooms, conference rooms, a reading room and a café, and second floor offices, a learning center, shared flex space for students and temporary workers and multipurpose space for group study, receptions, presentations and symposia. Additional student and staff space was also renovated on the 3rd and 4th floors.

 Some quick facts about the project:

Year of completion: 2012

Total square footage: 31,000

Construction Budget: $4,000,000

Project team: Bialosky + Partners Architects in association with Kallmann McKinnell & Wood

Principal in charge: Bruce Horton

Project manager: Ryan Parsons

Interior designer: Tracy Sciano-Vajskop

MEP: Korda Engineering Inc, a sustainable-minded engineering firm, based in Columbus,OH, who has won over 90 engineering design awards.

Once we got the good news about the LEED Silver Certification, I sat down for a quick Q&A session with our Project Manager, Ryan Parsons, about the design choices and LEED process:

Q: What obstacles or opportunities were unique to the sustainable strategy for Mason Hall?

A: The greatest challenge was coordinating all of the supporting documentation with the many team members involved and making sure the information was formatted properly for submission  and/or translated correctly to the on-line forms.  Constant issues with the use of LEED On-Line with the newest versions of Adobe Reader or Acrobat made this challenge even more difficult.

Q: How fantastic to incorporate recycled content and recycled materials – what are the most special instances of this materiality at Mason Hall?

A: Many components of the project included recycled content – lay-in ceilings, acoustical ceiling plaster, acoustical wall and ceiling panels, metal studs, cabinetry, aluminum windows, structural steel, and de-mountable partitions are just some examples, but one with a “cool factor” was the unique solid surface material comprised of recycled paper with a 100% water-based binder system  used for work surfaces in the Café and Reception areas.

Q: When we think of green buildings, we typically think of systems. What innovative system strategies were put into play?

A: An energy saving lighting control system was provided that automatically adjusts light levels in each space based on the amount of natural lighting the space receives.  The system is flexible in that each space was provided with individual controls to override the system should tasks require more light.

Q: What was the most important take-away from this LEED project that can be applied to future projects?

A: It takes considerable time and effort from all team members to collect and format the information required for LEED Certification.  The earlier everyone starts the process the better.  Coordination and organization are critical in creating a LEED success story.

Bialosky Announces Transition Plan