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The Value of a Campus: Why Physical Space Matters for Students

The Value Of A Campus: Why Physical Space Matters For Students


Any person who has attended a college or university can tell you that there is much more to picking a school than just academics. Students today look for campuses that match their vision of what their college experience should be, and for standout features that mark one university as better than the rest. Design and architecture teams must have insight into the wants and needs of current and prospective students in order to create a fully functional and insightful campus design.


It is an easy decision for most students to pick a campus with modern, open buildings made of sustainable materials over an older campus composed mostly of bulky, oppressive structures built in red brick. But what designers need to know is precisely why students look for these modern characteristics.

Knoll published a case study based on their work on a college campus building in North Carolina. Looking to better understand the relationship between students and campus facilities, Knoll conducted multiple surveys before and after the first semester began. They found that prospective students not only look for functionality and variety of spaces within a facility, but also the brand aesthetics of a classroom or study area. Based on this research, they decided that providing students with attractive, alternative study spaces would improve the quality of campus life for these new students. And after these considerations were put into effect by Knoll, there was a 19 percent improvement in students’ level of satisfaction.

Campus styles vary almost as largely as the wants and needs of college students. Where one student may want a campus filled with gothic architecture in the woods, another wants an ultra-modern campus in a bustling city. Some of the most beautiful and well-received campuses are also the greenest college campuses in the country.

According to University Business, “Adding green and sustainable elements to facilities during new construction and renovations is no longer an option for colleges and universities—it’s the expectation.” Among our favorite green campuses are Loyola University of Chicago, which has recently revamped its campuses to include LEED certified alternative student spaces, and Cornell University, which offers sustainability focuses in 70 percent of its programs in addition to supporting a beautiful campus nestled in a pastoral suburb. For a complete list of the greenest universities, visit Best Colleges.

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