The steps of master planning for your campus recreation department in a way that is both holistic and student-focused.
In today’s fast-paced world, students are increasingly prioritizing their physical and mental health. Campus rec facilities are instrumental in promoting lifelong healthy habits and connections to their wider community network. However, they often require facility upgrades and their technology.
Additionally, the need for more health and wellness opportunities beyond a centralized campus recreation center is often overlooked. This can limit the effectiveness of these facilities in supporting students’ college journeys. To address these challenges, universities must develop comprehensive, campus-wide master plans to identify gaps in recreation programming. From there, they need to create a plan to integrate a cohesive range of wellness opportunities across the campus network.
Collaborative Approach to Master Planning
Academic institutions may differ in scale and scope, but their approach to developing campus master plans remains the same: holistic and student focused. Whether it’s a campus-wide initiative or a singular facility assessment, the first step in the process is understanding and assessing the existing campus conditions to create a baseline for development. This is critical to identify any gaps in opportunities available to students and lays the foundation for strategic growth. By analyzing existing campus infrastructure and current recreation usage patterns, colleges and universities can identify new programming possibilities that meet the unique needs of their campus, reinforce the importance of health and wellness, and bolster the student experience.
Once the baseline assessment is completed, the next step is to engage with students, stakeholder groups and university leadership to develop a shared vision. Through visioning sessions or workshops, each group can provide their unique insights and collaborate with peers to achieve a consensus on the types. This collaborative process fosters community building and helps establish a shared purpose, which is essential for prioritizing next steps. Some facilities that emerge from this process could include an integrated yoga/meditation space within a living learning community situated on the edge of campus or an established satellite recreation center that serves the medical campus of a university.
Roadmap for Achieving the Shared Vision
Establishing a clear plan is the final step. The baseline assessment shows where you are, while the stakeholder input identifies where you want to be. The master plan serves as a roadmap for achieving the shared vision. While the plan may evolve to address immediate student needs, it provides a clear, vetted and agreed-upon solution for the future of campus recreation and wellness.
A comprehensive master plan provides a framework for addressing and reinforcing the importance of student health and wellness needs. By taking a recreation-focused approach, leadership groups can effectively maximize the impact on short-term student needs while strategically planning for long-term future growth. A holistic approach is key to enhance student well-being.
Mason Johnson is an AIA, NCARB, WELL AP, project architect at Moody Nolan. For more information, visit moodynolan.com.