The world of education is continually evolving. As a firm involved in shaping the environment for future learning, Turner Duran Architects remains challenged to design for the next model of instruction and technology, while at the same time preserving the traditions and practices that distinguish each school. When creating a school master plan to address evolving facility needs, a solid understanding of the trends and innovations that support 21st-century learning is required. 


1. Involvement.

Developing a master plan that meets a schools needs, while also adhering to their budget, begins in the programming stage by gathering input from the school community at large. This involves faculty, staff, alums and parents in shaping the vision of the campus. Buy-in is sought from a more widely diverse group of people, necessitating an organized process that encourages input yet keeps the overall effort progressing. Once a clear understanding is reached around the desired program outcomes and budget parameters, then the project delivery method is selected. In order to seek cost effectiveness throughout the process we prefer to work with modern project delivery methods, like Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR). Working interactively with builders from design through construction is a proven method with a record of achieving high levels of value and client satisfaction.


2. Specialization.

A significant trend in master planning for education facilities is the continuously growing specialization of certain areas of curriculum. This has generated the need for us, as master planners, to involve specialists early in the programming and planning process. Among the most significant areas of change:

  • STEM Education: STEM education is one of the fastest-growing sectors in learning, yet the U.S. education system often strains to keep up with the constantly changing skills and technologies that are being demanded. In fact, according to the National Math and Science Initiative, only 36% of high school graduates are ready to take a college-level science course. As a result, there has been a renewed interest nationwide in science education in the K-12 years. The effect of this on the master planning process is that we engage a science curriculum and lab planning consultant early in the programming and planning process to consult with faculty representatives regarding instruction philosophies and tactics.
  • Arts Programs: Once a lower priority in the general curriculum, there has been an explosion of interest in the visual and performing arts, as well as design. As a result, there has been an increased emphasis on enhancing such programs with high-quality facilities. Sometimes these facilities are utilized in a “multi-purpose” manner, which affects their location on campus.
  • Technology: Technology in the classroom is pervasive now. Instructional methods inside the classroom have been greatly impacted by advances in technology, fostering interactive learning and community building. Technology consultants are engaged during the early stages of planning efforts to assist in guiding the direction of facilities planning.


3. Green Building Design.

Another key factor that can affect facilities master planning is the desire to achieve certification for projects from the United States Green Building Council. In accord with the timeless American value of “waste not, want not,” the LEED Accredited Professionals at Turner Duran Architects incorporate energy savings and environmentally sound design concepts in all of our projects. This means that each building will be designed in accordance with the principals of LEED to the extent that each client desires and can afford, regardless of whether actual certification is pursued.  


4. Fund Raising.

As with all projects that advance an institution, raising the required funds takes time. To assist schools in their fund-raising efforts, deliverables that highlight the project are provided. These deliverables include a site master plan, floor plans, renderings and animations, which are distributed electronically as well as via “hard copy.”


5. Emergency Preparedness.

This hurricane season has illuminated the need for schools to be prepared not only for disruptions to their own facilities, but also to consider the need to accommodate regional relief efforts. As a result, we now not only advise clients to develop a disaster recovery plan, but we also encourage them to include “surge space” in their master plans that will enable them to house disaster victims for a period of time, while at the same time assisting them with space flexibility for their academic needs.