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Building for innovation

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

One of an occasional series

Voiland_orig_150x150A series of new initiatives, programs and buildings have sprung up at America’s colleges and universities.

These come in response to a growing set of expectations for higher education coming from both the academic community and society at large. Driven by technological change and increasingly diverse populations, the academy has risen to meet these expectations with a variety of cross-disciplinary problem-based research efforts, new curricula, novel teaching methods and links to the commercial sector. Increasingly, these new behaviors and programs are being grouped under the banner of ‘Innovation’ and housed in purpose-built spaces that not only demonstrate a commitment to change, but also provide a fundamentally new space type on campuses.

While parents and students question the value proposition of the academy, trustees, donors and business leaders are asking colleges and universities to partner more fully with the business community. In response, many institutions have developed a variety of innovation initiatives to support these goals. Innovation initiatives also help with another challenge facing many research institutions as federal research funding has steadily declined.

The rationale for establishing innovation programs may be clear, but of equal or greater importance is creating innovation spaces that are the right fit. From our creation of the landmark Harvard Innovation Lab to projects for clients around the country, we have developed a series of design strategies to guide the successful programming, planning and implementation of innovation facilities.

- Luke Voiland

Luke Voiland AIA is a principal at Shepley Bulfinch and a leader in the planning and design of innovative learning environments. This post is an extract from Luke’s briefing paper, “Building for innovation: Higher education grapples with an evolving mission.” You can download the complete paper here.

Innovation taxonomy

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