From CREATING INTELLECTUAL COMMUNITIES, Volume 1, Number 2, 2007
Arizona State University (ASU) Dean of Architecture Wellington Duke Reiter has been immersed in the world of architecture and campus planning for educational institutions since 1990, in locations ranging from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the Northeast to ASU in the Southwest. The following is an excerpt from a recent interview with Dean Reiter on current directions in campus planning for intellectual communities.
Do current trends in architecture and campus planning differ between the East and the West?
Actually, I see schools across the country becoming more similar in their approach to architecture and campus planning due to the common expectations we’re all seeing from our current and prospective students and parents. Across the board, students are looking for a more urbane lifestyle on campus. Parents are more interested in the appeal of on-campus living because they want their children to live on campus — for experiential and safety reasons. As a result, campuses of all types, sizes, and locations are taking a more holistic, luxurious approach to campus planning in an effort to make campus living model the lifestyle of off-campus living.
So where are the differences in campus planning trends in this country?
The differing directions in campus planning are really the result of the different “directions” — the locations — of the schools. By that, I mean that today’s diverse approaches to campus planning are based on climate imperatives and environmental factors that exist from one school location to another. In the Northeast, where snow may really only be an issue a few weeks a year, the climate doesn’t have a major influence on how buildings, walkways, and landscapes are designed and implemented. The greater influence is the tradition of style and culture on the existing campus and the desire to maximize the appeal of the surrounding town or city.