14. Designing Colleges

by karen orlowski

Maddy Burke-Vigeland says that Gensler, a global design firm, “recently spent a semester surveying more than 250 undergrad and graduate students” in an effort to understand whether university infrastructures are actually supporting the needs of its students; her article titled Designing Colleges For More Than Just Connectivity explores this. They nicknamed their findings Campus 3.0 and noted that while it’s important to be wired correctly, it’s more important to be wired in a human way.

Gensler found that today, this is how most campuses look:

-The majority of students spend 44% of their time on campus studying alone, 18% socializing, 13% in lectures, and 17% collaborating. Only 29% of space on campus was considered “inspirational” by students.

Imagine a campus populated with spaces that create a culture of learning 24/7. Classroom buildings are alive with students all day, all night. Along with making classrooms/class time more collaborative, Campus 3.0 extends that same kind of energy to the surrounding spaces. Gone are the classroom buildings that go dark when the last bell rings for the day. Gone are the empty classrooms inhabited by students who squat here as a last resort and “hack” the kind of study/collaborative space they need.

This article pertains to a recent conversation we had in my creative strategist class. We talk about the “yellow sheet,” or the checklist of requirements that allow you to walk across a stage and get a degree. But the industry we’re studying- advertising- teaches us that it’s a job that goes on in your mind 24/7, not just 9-5 M-F. So, we have to take advantage of the white space between classes to use as collaboration time, and work beyond fulfilling the requirements on the yellow sheet. I am lucky to be a part of a program on campus that stands with Gensler, in a sense. The Ad program at the UO does not just teach classes on how to make ads. Instead, professors teach strategy, critical and conceptual thinking, and other valuable skills.