Shepley Bulfinch undertook a three-month-long study where we examined science facilities from over a 100 colleges and universities across the country. We gathered data that details departmental usage, building efficiency, and other key metrics that drive the design of science buildings. In particular, we tracked usage related to interdisciplinary research and STEM trends across higher education.
Key insights included:
Buildings are 37% larger while undergoing a 15% reduction in square footage per department.
There has been a 260% increase in the space allotted to dry labs. This dramatic increase represents new types of research driven by technology that does not require hoods and benches, including computational biology, computer science, and robotics.
Increased cost represents the increasingly complex nature of combining multiple typologies (wet and dry) in one building and increased construction costs due to skilled labor shortages. It could also represent higher performance buildings focused on faculty retention and recruitment.
On average, planning efficiency remains about the same, as elements in building GSF (structure, bathrooms, circulation) cannot get smaller. Overall GSF has increased as institutions are building larger buildings to house multiple departments, as opposed designating one building per department.
These are the most high-level insights, but the data we have collected allows for more detailed queries. For more on the study findings, feel free to email me at email@example.com
About the author:
Luke Voiland, AIA, is a Principal at Shepley Bulfinch and a leader in the planning and design of innovative learning environments.