The campus setting is changing. Students are looking to learn in attractive, innovative environments that enable personalized learning. Yet colleges and universities are faced with increasing capital investment priorities outpacing the rate of funding. Smart university storage solutions can be one area to meet the challenges facing higher education today.
The blackboard at the front of lines of desks is no longer going to cut it. Space planners and designers today must design functional, mobile and personalized learning spaces that are sustainable, energy efficient and affordable.
These challenges are amplified by other industry trends such as:
- Too little or mostly underutilized space
- Need to adapt to technological complexities
- Older structures requiring repair, renovation
Well-planned, organized spaces that require a smaller footprint or enhanced utilization of existing space is a must in this environment. Smart design creates a built-in flexibility for everything from traditional lecture to more active learning modality. Meanwhile, the right university storage solutions can also help the college/university campus do more with less.
Repurpose existing space
One solution is to identify creative ways to transform existing physical spaces. With many aging campus buildings, facilities teams are stuck trying to determine what can be repaired or newly renovated, and what needs to be taken down to start again. Releasing the hidden value of current environments is typically more cost effective than building new.
Often the underlying building structure is sound, but other systems need update. Even if the existing space isn’t suitable for educational uses any longer, it may become the perfect fit for academic offices, IT departments or other campus services. Each of these have storage needs that can be addressed cost-effectively with customized solutions.
A storage-proactive revamp of the Morehouse School of Medicine Library, for instance, pared the library collection footprint by nearly 60% to provide significant square footage for chairs, whiteboards and other spaces for the burgeoning student population.
Build a smaller footprint
Many campuses are landlocked, but even those that aren’t can benefit from meeting demand for space with buildings that require a smaller footprint. The needs for storage are plentiful on college campuses and include:
- Science lab cold storage
- Student records
- Facility and maintenance equipment
- Campus health supplies
- Sports and recreation equipment
- Campus police gear and evidence lockers
- Mail services
- Library collections
- Performing arts costumes, instruments, and more.
Construction costs can be reduced when university storage solution experts consult with campus architects from the outset of the project. With the sole focus on storage, these individuals can present the right modular or other flexible options to save space in ways the architects and designers might not envision.
Repurposing and building smaller can help reduce the percentage of campus budget dedicated to facilities, while also cutting maintenance costs. Although dedicating space to storage can seem like a poor investment on a cash-strapped campus, there are many positive returns from the right storage choices. Don’t run the risk of:
- Damage to expensive equipment that is inconveniently stored and difficult to access
- Causing health and safety issues with storage locations posing threats to those who need access
- Underutilizing assets because they are too difficult to get to.
Wake Forest, for instance, eliminated costly rental and stocking fees with a new high-density storage for the Z Smith Reynolds Library’s more than 19 million volumes.
Allow for room to grow
Today’s trends are for technology-enhanced and active learning experiences in spaces that invite collaboration. Campus planners are looking for adaptability and affordability as they develop the new modernized, hybrid spaces. But what’s on the horizon? It’s hard to say.
Designing or redesigning the campus environment with flexibility as a top priority can help the university or college allow room to grow and evolve.
The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus, for example, boasts the world’s largest collection of cartoon and comic art. When the museum was moving from a 6,000 sq. ft. space to 30,000 sq. ft., they had plenty of room to work with. Yet by planning ahead they not only accommodated the collection and augmented visitor experience, but also prepared for future exhibitions and could anticipate growing an already vast collection.
Treasure your space
The college or university is often a beloved home to students and a treasured space for alums. Faculty and staff also value the unique history and culture of their working environment. Retain the importance of place, while remaining fiscally responsible, by designing with modular furniture and storage solutions that improve productivity, streamline processes, and provide comfort and pleasing aesthetics.
Partnering with university storage solution experts, you can enjoy input from project planners with deep expertise in finding the best, customized answer for your storage needs.