Optimize the built environment

Built Environment report

The group’s scope includes:

  • Architecture and landscaping
  • Priorities and planning
  • Communication and community engagement
  • Operations, staffing, and technology
  • Safety, security, and accessibility
  • Sustainability

Group Members

Will Abersek ’21, Student
Ralph Bradburd, Department of Economics
Rita L. Coppola-Wallace, Design and Construction
Edan Dekel, Department of Classics and Jewish Studies Program
Lisa Melendy, Department of Athletics
Fred Puddester, Office of Finance and Administration

Working Group charge (draft)

Our buildings, grounds, and infrastructure support and shape the academic and co-curricular mission of the college. As our programmatic needs have changed, so, too, have our buildings. Our largest building projects in recent years have focused on core areas of the college, including academics, student life, and infrastructure. We have also invested in faculty and staff housing, a childcare center, and strategic community projects.

Despite the recent boom in construction, there are still areas of campus that will need attention in the coming years. Any new construction will need to meet programmatic goals and be financially responsible, sensitive to the campus and community, and consistent with our sustainability standards.

The working group is charged with examining the principles and procedures that guide our decision making regarding new buildings and other campus improvements, including:

  • Examining the process for identifying and approving campus projects;
  • Improving communication to the community;
  • Setting standards for assessing current facilities and demand for additional space;
  • Balancing building needs with our sustainability commitments;
  • Ensuring we incorporate the appropriate technology infrastructure in our buildings;
  • Preparing our staff for a more complex built environment.

This workgroup should consider the following questions:

  • How do we identify and approve new buildings and renovation of existing structures? Do we need an overarching campus plan to guide our decisions? How can we ensure that our planning reflects and supports our broader goals and values?
  • How can we most effectively communicate with key campus stakeholders at every point in the building process? How do we appropriately engage the community—town agencies and boards, neighbors to campus and citizens generally – in the process?
  • How do we assess the condition and use of our current facilities? How do we evaluate the demand for additional space on campus? How do we balance other priorities, including, but not limited to, architecture, aesthetics, technology, accessibility, historical context, and landscaping?
  • How do we balance our building needs with our commitment to reducing both embodied carbon and carbon emissions? How should we think about the full life-cycle implications of not just sustainability, but also operating costs and maintenance?
  • How can we ensure that our technology infrastructure keeps up with evolving building systems, sustainability goals, academic needs and our changing expectations for technology?
  • How will we prepare our design and construction and operation staff– as well as other key people across campus—for this increasingly complex environment?

Each working group will collaborate with the Office of the President on a list of resources needed for its work, including internal data sets and models from peer institutions.  In addition, each working group is charged with:

  • Developing an open and inclusive process for gathering input from all sectors of the campus;
  • Developing a communications strategy throughout the fall and early spring of 2019-20;
  • Coordinating with other relevant working groups and the Coordinating Committee as necessary;
  • Recognizing that resources are limited and thinking carefully about ways to achieve programmatic change without necessarily increasing total spending;
  • Operating with the understanding that new initiatives may replace existing ones and thus an inventory of possible reductions/eliminations should be developed.