This committee considers the space needs of the community, new projects, and the future priorities of the University and makes decisions about space allocation and design of space to meet program needs.
All University of Rhode Island land, facilities and buildings belong to the University as a whole. The University has the authority and responsibility to allocate space to specific users for certain periods of time, to review these allocations periodically, to assess utilization, and to reallocate space as needed to support the University’s Academic, Strategic and Master Plans.
Space Management and Planning
Given the economic climate, it is important that we manage the space that we have as effectively as possible, and plan for our future needs with as much information at hand as we can gather.
All space planning should be driven by academic and administrative strategic planning. Deans, chairs and directors help generate the vision that becomes the mission and goals of the University; Space planning translates those visions into the physical and resource needs and an implementation strategy. Not all needs will result in new buildings or expensive renovations - there are often inexpensive, moderate, and full- blown solutions to every space need.
There are costs associated with not properly managing our space, not strategically planning for future space needs. There are the costs of poorly utilizing of space - costs to heat/cool/service this space, as well as the cost of building and operating new space that would not be needed if existing space was better utilized. There are costs that come from poor planning of new space - the costs of not planning for growth, of building wrong kinds of space - e.g., if planning is wrong on lab needs, we could spend too much on expensive space. And because the new facility may not meet needs of users; there is the cost to renovate newly built space. There are costs that come from poor backfill planning (what goes into space vacated when another unit moves out) - the cost of moving departments multiple times, the cost of renovating space for needs that exceed capacity of building (e.g., trying to put wet labs in a building better suited for offices), and the cost of not planning for growth.
There are four components necessary to effectively manage space and plan for future space needs:
Space Inventory Database
At URI, the space inventory database is maintained by Property & Support Services. This database is needed for two reasons; first, so that we can effectively plan for our future needs and secondly, so that we can provide data for the Indirect Cost Recovery analysis and successfully pass any audits related to ICR.
Space utilization can be assessed in a number of ways, from the basic - is the room in use or not - to more complex calculations involving criteria specific to the type of space (i.e. research dollars, publications, staffing, enrollment, etc.) There are many criteria that we use at URI to assess utilization in classrooms, offices, administrative space, and research space.
Space Policy, Standards & Guidelines
We have developed a space policy, including space allocation standards and guidelines. Space standards and guidelines are ranges of net square feet (NSF) for different types of space, based on rank, research activity, etc. The standards that at URI are based on national norms and will take into account recent trends. They will also acknowledge the historical allocations at URI, many of which were driven by building configurations. The standards are used to program new buildings, renovations of existing buildings and to project out space needs over time.
Space Needs Triggers
Departments and colleges need to be aware of the changes that they may be facing or considering that are typical triggers for growth which can drive the need for additional space, renovation of existing space, or both. Not all space needs will result in the need for a new building or a major renovation. There are usually a variety of solutions that can be considered, ranging from reorganization of activities with minimal costs to full-blown renovation/new construction at a high costs. It is critical that departments take the responsibility to consider their potential space needs and communicate these as soon as possible to their dean/vice president, and through them to the Provost/President and Campus Planning. Solutions for space needs can often take many months or longer to achieve, especially if renovation or construction is required.
Some of the triggers of growth and resultant space needs are the hiring of additional faculty; the hiring of faculty to replace retiring faculty, who have different research requirements; changes in a program or pedagogy; changes in enrollment; and increased or new research. These can result in needs for offices, teaching space, research space, student organization space, graduate assistant office space, and renovations, among other things.
Space Planning & Strategic Planning
Space planning needs to be an integral component of strategic planning. Strategic plans should address space issues/needs that will result from any of the above triggers. Plans that will affect space must be reviewed and supported by SEDA and sub sequentially, senior administration. As plans for growth must be realistically tested - we must consider the ability of funds vs. the perceived needs. All planning must be reviewed against the Master Plan and other University-wide planning approaches to ensure that the University as a whole will benefit from and individual unit's plans.