Campus Innovation | Design Trends for Higher Education Facilities

Spring is quickly approaching and higher education facilities are preparing for the 2019-2020 school year. Academic environments are rapidly changing, reflecting consistent advancements in technology and shifting educational models. As colleges and universities look to integrate new learning methodologies and expand education beyond the traditional classroom setting, what is the common denominator amidst all this change?

Students. How can institutions best attract a diverse student population? How can the facility empower student learning as well as healthy living? The construction and design trends that collegiate institutions follow revolve around their students and it is critical that the answers to these questions are repeatedly evaluated in order to improve the quality of their interiors, attract new students and prepare current ones for the demands and expectations of the work force. As campuses around the country set their sights on the coming school year, here are a few design trends we see making an impact.

CDI Feature Higher Education Design Trends
Image Source: Global Furniture Case Study, George Brown College 

Design Trends for 2019

Power of Choice

If Millennials and Generation Z have taught us anything, it is that the power of choice goes a long way in positively feeding bodies and minds in both education and corporate settings. Campus square footage must be flexible, continually adapting alongside advancements in technology and evolving pedagogies. Whether in formal areas, such as lecture halls and classrooms, or informal areas such as hallways and cafes, design features should allow students space for both room and play. Elements that offer reconfiguration, power integration and the ability to work quietly or collaboratively will ensure that students have the tools they need to remain happy and productive.

CDI Features Higher Education Design Trends
Shown above: Kimball Pairings

Manufacturers such as Kimball, Integra and Grand Rapids Chair Company offer furniture pieces that can be incorporated throughout the whole facility, adapting to changing work styles and shifting postures. Kimball’s Pairings® is a versatile lounge based collection that is designed to work alone or as components. The system, which includes seating, benching, tables and even privacy nooks, boasts power access, acoustical separation and can be crafted together to create formal or informal settings. Integra’s Kallise seating range is equally diverse, with tablet arm and caster options for easy reconfiguration. For impromptu focus moments and meetings, the Kixsy Pull-Up Table offers functionality at a moment’s notice and can be paired with your choice of seating. Grand Rapid Chair Company’s Sadie and Brady chairs follow a minimalist approach to design and bring durability to high-traffic areas like cafes and lobbies. Both seating options are offered in a plethora of wood and metal finishes, creating a unified aesthetic of your choice.

Clockwise from Top: Integra Kallise, Grand Rapids Chair Company Brady Barstool and Sadie II Chair

Collaboration Concepts

Single-purpose buildings are a thing of the past. Today’s higher education facilities not only offer the traditional lecture halls and classrooms for their students, they are feeding innovation and interaction through the use of collaborative design elements sprinkled throughout open plan environments. Comfortably furnished third spaces that support varying degrees of privacy provide the opportunity for interdisciplinary engagement and impromptu conversations between classmates and faculty members. Modern manufacturer’s offer a wealth of furniture collections that foster collaboration, but here are a few that are currently popular on campuses.

Ideon’s Pasea and OFS’ Tangent are modular lounge collections that provide limitless seating configurations within a limited square footage. Ottomans, benches and backs can be pieced together to create an arrangement that fits the varying needs of individuals and groups. Facilities looking to incorporate freestanding lounge elements might look towards JSI’s Indie or Ziva, both of which embrace contemporary, residential aesthetics for a relaxed atmosphere. 

CDI Features Higher Education Design TrendsShown Above: OFS Heya

OFS boasts multiple collections that provide comfortable collaborative opportunities for students, such as Heya, Rowen and Boost. Heya was designed to create privacy for individuals and small groups in open environments. Its visual softness ensures that it blends seamlessly into the campus third space, while flexible features such as mobile casters give students the ability to mold their space as they see fit. Allermuir’s Haven and Famiglia are other versatile seating options for the full facility, the latter of which is complemented by a range of occasional and light work tables. Finally, Kimball’s Teem® keeps individuals and groups connected to each other and to technology with functional media cabinets that can be equipped with monitors and marker boards.

CDI Features Higher Education Design Trends
Shown Above: Kimball Teem

Campus Health and Wellness

College campuses are designed to support the broader student experience in a 24-hour day. Conventional design elements range from dormitory lounges and cafes to outdoor gardens and exercise facilities. Similar to recent trends we’ve seen develop in workplace design, higher education facilities are now stepping up their game in terms of health amenity offerings. Fitness, mindfulness and nutritional perks, such as smaller workout areas conveniently scattered about campus, meditation rooms and healthy cooking classes, are not only sparking interest within prospective students, they are making it easier for current students to remain happy, healthy and productive. Monetarily speaking, boosting the health amenity offerings for your students can range greatly. Building a campus that boasts flexible square footage and adaptable design elements will ensure that the transition of offerings and programming is seamless.

Natural Touches

Incorporating natural touches within the classroom and throughout the collegiate campus can lead to to a healthier and more productive working environment for students and faculty. In addition to creating sustainable classrooms and following environmentally-friendly practices, which our youngest generations are deeply passionate about, centering campus design around natural light sources and biophilic design elements will harness the many psychological and physiological benefits that we have previously discussed on the blog. Building orientation and window design play a heavy role in the amount of natural light allowed into a space. For existing facilities that are unable to make drastic changes to their building structure, simply breaking down furniture elements that obstruct windows can make a huge difference. Biophilic features such as plants, living walls and natural textures and graphics help connect students to nature and reap its benefits.

CDI Features Higher Education Design Trends
Shown Above: Kimball Villa™, Dock® and Pep®

The Future of Your Campus

While the design trends incorporated into each collegiate campus will vary, periodically analyzing what steps are being taken to attract a diverse student population and how the facility is empowering learning will ensure that each campus performs at its best. We encourage you to reach out to a member of the CDI team for a deeper explanation of campus trends, further recommendations on applicable furniture pieces and guidance in creating your most innovative facility.

CDI Features Higher Education Design TrendsFeatured Image Source: Global Furniture Case Study, George Brown College 

About CDI

Corporate Design Interiors (CDI) is an industry-leading commercial furniture dealership whose award-winning product knowledge, thoughtful design coupled with strategic planning deliver functional and inspiring interiors designed to foster employee well-being, productivity and engagement. CDI’s relentless focus on delivering positive workplaces mirroring the culture and vision of companies while delivering a high value investment has earned CDI diverse clients including;  established Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits/public sector and energetic startups.

As a “Select” Kimball dealer, CDI’s excellence in sales, partnership, quality improvement, community involvement and overall business best practices earned it the 2017 Kimball Premier Partner Award.  CDI was selected among 52 other Kimball Select dealerships throughout the country for this industry-leading honor, earning additional praise for its company culture and enterprise practices.

CDI Awarded 2017 Kimball-PremierPartnerView the video below to take a further look into Corporate Design Interior’s award-winning partnership with Kimball.

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