Our academic work builds upon the projects we have executed for various colleges, universities, and private schools. This previous work ranges from a strategic interior renovation that transformed how a department teaches, to a new building that reconfigures part of the campus. Through our experience we have found key aspects of academic projects that serve to guide our design process.
Academic projects inherently must synthesize the needs of a diverse set of stakeholders. The requests of multiple user groups including the faculty, students, and staff are coupled with the goals of the facilities management team and administration. Our role as architects is to gain an understanding of these diverse needs and bring them together into a cohesive project through the visioning, programming, and master planning exercises that we lead. As in all our work, we rely on facilitating excellent communication and strategic thinking to achieve this comprehensive vision. Once we have established these overarching goals with the various stakeholders, we then begin the work of creating a design that achieves this, always working together to fine tune the vision along the way.
In our designs for academic environments, the process includes strategizing for how to best work within the academic schedule, be it through designing the project so that it can be a “summer slammer”, to creating early release documents so that key parts of the work can get started early, to configuring the project so that it is phased to enable future components. The ability to fit a project into the academic calendar in an intelligent way is often a major component of its success.
Atelier et Alia values designs that synthesize across the disciplines, and hence works closely with our client groups and all members of the design and construction team. Academic projects are always a part of the whole, and new projects must integrate with the existing systems and standards in the building and/or campus. We work closely with the various facility departments, vendors, and our engineering teams to ensure the integration of these systems into the design documents. We also collaborate with the project management group to develop a system of review and comment by the facilities groups of interim design phases to allow for clear communication as the design develops.
Academic projects, no matter what scale, impact how teaching, researching, and working can occur successfully. We relish bringing our skills as architects and designers to contribute to the academic community in this way.