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Higher Education Construction Trends: What Contractors Should Be Aware Of

Being aware of the latest construction trends in specific markets is a critical aspect of finding success as a constructor. For example, if your company focuses on the higher education market, you need to stay up to date on what colleges and universities are looking to accomplish through new construction and refurbishment projects.

While clients often have a general idea of what they’re looking for regarding design and construction, it’s essential to follow the higher education construction trends so that you can help your client make informed choices that align with the mission of the institution.

In the ultra-competitive world of higher education, these institutions are constantly evaluating their space to identify opportunities to construct new buildings or update existing facilities on their campus.

As a result of the constant drive to update buildings, education construction is a booming market, especially as owners look to create more welcoming environments for students in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the higher education construction trends to be aware of during this era.

Higher Education Construction Trends Post-COVID

Whether building new athletic facilities or increasing student housing, institutions are looking for ways to increase enrollment and create a more enriching college experience. Consider the following current higher education construction trends to help you better serve your clients.

Sports Facilities

Sports are one of the biggest revenue generators for colleges, so decision-makers want to provide their student-athletes with elite facilities. Not only do these facilities promote better health among athletes, but they also play an essential role in recruiting new talent.

Prominent schools with big budgets have provided guidance on what type of sports facilities that student-athletes are looking for. For example, the University of Florida recently opened a new $85 million football facility. The James W. “Bill” Heavener Football Training Center includes a barber shop, basketball court, cryogenic therapy, and a locker room that would make many professional football teams envious.

Athletic Director Scott Stricklin pointed out that the Gators wanted to create a space where student-athletes wanted to be. Innovative design that blends recovery and luxury is the future of college sports facilities.

Even for smaller schools that lack the funds of a big-name SEC school, the same blueprint can be followed, just on a smaller scale.

Educational Facilities

Ultimately, nothing matters more at a college than education. One of the most important aspects of a successful college is the ability to offer students training and education that will equip them for their chosen careers. While the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted the higher education field, it also created many new employment opportunities for college graduates.

Specifically, there is an increase in demand for research facilities. The National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that 55% of its research is conducted at medical schools and teaching hospitals. This demand has created a need for schools to have quality science buildings.

Building design and construction is imperative when creating a science building, as federal regulations must be satisfied. If your company is bidding on project work to build a new building, make sure you are aware of the specific issues that your client owner needs to address with any new construction.

Student Unions

One of the most important aspects of student life at a college and university is the ability to connect with new people from all over the world. A student union can serve as the hub of a college, allowing students to come together and forge new relationships.

In addition to providing students with a place to connect and participate in leisure activities, a quality student union can also be a significant attractant to potential students.

As we’ve already discussed, recruiting is the lifeblood of a college’s athletic department. However, student recruitment is crucial for the long-term viability of a college as a whole. When potential students visit a college for the first time, a top-notch student union can serve as a major attraction.

Student unions typically include dining options, televisions, games, and other things that students can use to enjoy their downtime. General contractors who construct a student union should work with college administrators to build a space that students will enjoy while also looking at the type of student unions constructed at other successful colleges.

Student Housing

Finally, student housing is critical to keep students on your campus to create the best possible college experience. A recent study found that college students spend an average of nine hours each day sleeping. This means that students spend most of their time in their dorms, making student housing an imperative aspect of higher education construction projects.

In addition to the need for comfortable, functional, and aesthetically pleasing student housing, the need for student health and safety measures has never been more evident than it is today. 

Any construction plans should include methods to increase health and safety following COVID-19. Consider incorporating recommendations provided by state and federal health and safety officials into your bid to show owners that you are mindful of creating a healthy environment for students who live on campus.

Learn More About Construction Trends in Key Markets

Higher education is one of several key markets that constructors need to keep track of. Your company may also be looking to win work in markets such as healthcare, mobility, public transportation, and others. That’s why we recommend that you subscribe to the AIC email newsletter to receive timely information directly to your inbox.

We look for ways to help constructors stay on top of the trends in key markets through our newsletter. To start receiving the monthly eNews, drop your name and email address in the sign-up box below. Doing so will ensure that you’re always up to date on the latest construction trends in key markets, including higher education.

– You can also access valuable resources on our website such as other blog articles to learn about the latest construction trends that affect your role in the construction industry.

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