Higher Education and Space – recent examples


Higher education has a curious and contentious relationship with space and buildings. I am involved in several projects looking at the connection between the intellectual/operational mission of the university and its architectural materiality – the largest project looking at “interactive spaces” together with architect Anna Misharina and others. I will not go into any details of this work here, but I thought I would just mention some recent examples of the somewhat the contentious and curious relationship between higher education and space/buildings/real estate.

  • A long Fusion article on the Cooper Union (via Bryan Alexander): “How one of America’s last free colleges screwed its students and betrayed its legacy”.
    [About the dismantling of the tuition-free Cooper Union – partly through real estate business]
  • The 2031 NYU Plan (which is heavily contested): Article in NYU Local: “Anti-2031 Expansion Group Holds Rally in WSP”.
    [About New York University’s massive real estate plans under the rubric of the Sexton Plan]
  • An article in Swedish Sydsvenskan about a new high-profile building at Malmö University: “Hundratals anställda rasar mot högprofilbygge” (Hundreds of employees protest a high-profile building) .
    [The new building Niagara is an open plan building with few office for researchers and teachers, many of whom reportedly stay at home]
  • Umeå University is having its 50-year anniversary this year. Part of the publicity has been a timeline, [the story of the expansion of the university is the story of the campus expanding physically (and through that also academically) – many of the items are about buildings, a note too that this narrative has been critiqued for a lack of gendered perspective].

In this context I would also like a couple of sources I am looking at right now:

  • Towards Creative Learning Spaces: Re-thinking the Architecture of Post-Compulsory Education by Jos Boys.
  • “Chainbuilding: A New Building for the New New School” (pdf) by Robert Kirkbride & Shannon Mattern.

More on this topic later.

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