Size isn’t an impediment to getting a great building for your campus, but hiring an architect who doesn’t understand the specific needs of a small institution can be a real impediment to a project’s success. As Stanmar’s Oliver Snider explains in a recent feature story in Private University Products & News, small institutions’ challenges only begin with the need for cost certainty.
Small colleges and independent schools typically lack the organizational depth or experience needed to oversee the planning process, and face a more urgent need for a cost-efficient building program. This can mean a smaller building footprint, but not necessarily: Virginia Wesleyan College was able to fund the 137,000-square-foot Jane P. Batten Student Center for its 1,450-strong student body because of a building plan that merges elements more typical seen in other student life buildings such as student unions, fine arts centers or dining halls. The Batten Center thus ended up comprising sports and recreation activity areas, but also a Town Square featuring a 7,500-gallon aquarium, the campus dining center (the “Marlin Grille”), the campus bookstore and a counseling center.Small institutions have a natural ally in design-build, which as practiced by Stanmar includes a guaranteed fixed price.