Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 48

DEPARTMENT

the architects

School Offices Need
Corporate Designs
Walled offices and cubicle farms are no longer an effective use
of university back-office spaces.
Rachel Woodhouse, NCIDQ, LEED AP
Dyer Brown Architects

S

hould universities seek leaders with a sig-

trades enclosed offices for layouts similar to those

nificant business background? This ques-

used by Google and Pixar. Elsewhere, faculty are

tion comes up frequently as some trust-

migrating to informal open areas or touchdown

ees seek corporate resum├ęs to head their colleges.

workspaces, with nearby huddle rooms for small

It raises a related notion: Are universities best

group meetings.

operated like a big business? Opinions differ on

Back-office users need the same innovations.

this highly charged topic, but one thing is clear:

While an alumni-relations office might desire

Institutions of higher education spend billions

more traditional workplace solutions-enclosed

on back-office operations. On most campuses,

offices and tall workstation partitions-the IT de-

according to The Chronicle of Higher Education

partment's Millennial users often demand a more

website (chronicle.com), essential administra-

modern aesthetic and wide-open bench/desk fur-

tive spaces account for as much as a quarter of a

nishings. Any back offices competing to recruit

school's total square footage.

and retain top talent should boost the design aes-

Setting aside leadership debates, it's clear

thetic and add more flexible work approaches.

schools should treat their back-office facilities just

For many universities, it's less about extrav-

like any of their student-centered spaces-as a care-

agance than simply making operations smarter

fully managed and highly efficient asset. A good

and more efficient. The Univ. of Minnesota, Min-

starting point is to take a portfolio perspective

neapolis, for example, implemented a universi-

when dealing with real estate and carefully evaluate

ty-wide effort to slash operating costs and energy

the business impact of on- and off-campus assets.

use. Eliminating redundant individual workspaces

This helps all schools and is particularly relevant

and clearly defining personal-storage etiquette ulti-

for urban campuses that are growing in already

mately reduced overall workspace by 35%. It also

dense environments.

expedited business processes by more than half.

Today, more than ever, university leaders should

At Yale Univ. (New Haven, CT), new back offices

be "looking at some of the back-office operations

with large collaboration zones and glass partitions

and ways we can be leaner, more efficient and...

cut operating costs even as more innovative ideas

actually add value to the student experience," said

blossomed.

Cathy Sandeen, vice-president for education at-

Another big winner at any school is to convert

tainment and innovation at the American Council

existing, unrelated spaces into new offices. Cap-

on Education, Washington. So it's not surprising

ture underutilized spaces as collaboration zones

that innovations in corporate workplaces are being

or teambuilding areas, stated Dyer Brown's Taylor,

adopted at leading institutions.

whether at the far end of a corridor or in a former

One trend is adding coworking areas and new

file-storage nook. "The results activate spaces and

multipurpose zones to maximize available space,

energize work teams," she added. "That's how we

stated Jen Taylor, a senior project manager at Dyer

turn underperforming assets into lean, efficient

Brown Architects, working with several universities

hives of creativity-places that truly add value to

around Boston. "Many colleges are desperate for

the university experience." CA

spaces where students can collaborate and work on
group projects," she added. It mirrors steps taken
to add collaboration zones and coworking areas
for faculty and departmental staffs. Cornell Univ.'s
Bloomberg Center (Ithaca, NY), for example,
48

COMMERCI A L A RCHI T EC T URE

AUGUST 2017

Rachel Woodhouse, NCIDQ, LEED AP, is principal and
director of operations at Dyer Brown Architects, Boston,
where she applies her expertise and experience in the institutional and corporate markets to her work with design
teams and client groups.

commercialarchitecturemagazine.com

Top. These custom "cubbies" at Criteo's Boston offices offer unique and effective work/
relaxation spaces for any office type. All photos: Darrin Hunter, courtesy Dyer Brown
Middle. An idea from the corporate sector for revamping university back-office facilites
is to use varied individual and collaboration spaces such as these at the Boston offices of
Crimson Hexagon.
Above. Occupant health and well-being are a focus of recent workplace designs such as
this break/meeting area at Arup's Boston offices.

Interview With Rachel Woodhouse
Learn more about effective use of back-office facilities in our podcast with
Rachel Woodhouse at commercialarchitecturemagazine.com/architects.


http://www.chronicle.com http://www.commercialarchitecturemagazine.com/architects http://www.commercialarchitecturemagazine.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Commercial Architecture August 2017

Food Shopping Redefined
Architectural Photography
The Architects
Lighting & Electrical Products
Exteriors Products
HVAC & Plumbing Products
Building Technology Products
Interiors Products
Windows & Doors Products
Showcase
Index
Portfolio
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - Cover1
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - Cover2
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 1
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 2
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 3
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 4
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 5
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 6
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 7
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - Food Shopping Redefined
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 9
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 10
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 11
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 12
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 13
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 14
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 15
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 16
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - Architectural Photography
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 18
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 19
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 20
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 21
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 22
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 23
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 24
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 25
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 26
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 27
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 28
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 29
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 30
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 31
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 32
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 35
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 36
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 37
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 38
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 39
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 40
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 41
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 42
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 43
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 44
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 45
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 46
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 47
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - The Architects
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 49
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - Lighting & Electrical Products
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 51
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 52
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 53
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 54
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 55
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - Exteriors Products
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - HVAC & Plumbing Products
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 58
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 59
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - Building Technology Products
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - Interiors Products
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - 62
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - Windows & Doors Products
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - Showcase
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - Index
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - Portfolio
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - Cover3
Commercial Architecture August 2017 - Cover4
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