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reimagining the higher education experience


brightspot reinvents places, rethinks services, and redesigns organizations so that people have more engaging experiences on campus and online.

Together, we increase student success, improve research support, and enable staff productivity while making space and operations more efficient.


we offer research, vision, and strategy services

Using stories and stats, we design remarkable experiences that use learning to engage your people and connect them to your purpose, your institution, your information, your brand, and to each other. We offer:




  • Trends Research

  • Competitor Research and Peer Benchmarking

  • User Research with Students, Faculty, Staff, and Alumni



  • Workshops, Retreats, and Summits

  • Future Scenario Planning

  • Mission and Vision Development

  • Strategic Planning and Organizational Roadmapping



  • Space Analysis, Programming, Planning, and Optimization

  • Services and Operational Strategy

  • Organizational Design and Development


using a practical approach

We look at spaces, services, technology, and people together because the combination of these offerings make for a remarkable experience. We involve people in the process to enable organizational change. We use an agile approach to prototype, pilot, learn, and scale.


with a multidisciplinary team

To solve complex problems, our team brings together diverse disciplines, skills, and backgrounds: architecture, interior design, social science, design research, business strategy, brand strategy, technology, and organizational change.  


that gets results

Together, we can achieve results. Recently these have created internal and external benefits for our clients. Internally, we have increased employee engagement, reduced cost, and reduced time loss. Externally, we have increased attendance, improved customer satisfaction, and increased client's net promoter scores.


our work

brightspot has worked with more than 70 colleges and universities on more than 120 projects to design practical, innovative strategies. Our work includes improving student services across the campus, reinventing libraries, helping museums think strategically, enabling professional schools to grow, rethinking academic technology, and creating more innovative workplaces. 


Hunt Library @ NC State

With our partners Snøhetta and Clark Nexsen, brightspot developed the vision and space strategy for a new, award-winning “library of the future.” brightspot then developed the service, staffing, and organizational strategy for its operations to be as innovative as its architecture.


  • AIA / ALA Library of the Year in 2013

  • 2015 Library Journal New Landmark Library

  • 93% student satisfaction

  • 10% rise in research questions

 Image credit: Snøhetta

Image credit: Snøhetta

Student Services @ UVA

brightspot, in collaboration with Nalls Architecture, developed the vision, space program, service offerings, organizational design, and operating budget for a student service center that brings together academic, personal, and career support in a cohesive, accessible way.


  • 24 service partners assembled in one place

  • 544 student seats provided

  • Post-occupancy assessment forthcoming


Academic Workplace

brightspot developed an activity-based workplace program for employees to enjoy greater flexibility and more choices as to where to work, rather than be assigned a desk. brightspot designed the process, developed the tools, trained staff, and implemented a successful pilot.


  • Increased productivity by 14%

  • Reduced response times by 69%

  • Reduced space costs by 30%


Tech Spaces @ NYU

brightspot helped NYU transition from outdated computer labs to technology-rich learning spaces for enhanced creativity and collaboration. We assessed student needs, developed the design brief for Gensler, created a new tech-support service model, and developed a new training program.


  • 253% rise in Net Promoter score

  • 93% student satisfaction with technology

  • 39% rise in confidence of staff to support students


Instructional Technology @ Private Research University 

brightspot developed a new collaborative instructional technology-support model that brought together staff and systems from IT, the Library, and the Center for the Advancement of Teaching. These groups now share a common service portfolio, support systems, training, and communications.


  • Enabled staff to provide over 1,000 faculty consultations and 100 workshops

  • 88% faculty satisfaction with support services

  • 80% staff satisfaction with training sessions


Student Experience Vision @ Liberal Arts College 

brightspot facilitated a campus-wide strategy to assess and improve the student experience outside the classroom. By engaging students, staff, faculty, alumni, and board members, we developed a vision for better campus dining, studying, socializing, resting, and wellness options.


  • Developed 25 playbook concepts and 5 pilot projects

  • Pilots implemented in upcoming dining and housing projects

  • Online student ratings improved in campus quality, campus food, and overall rating


Academic Museum @ U-M

brightspot worked with students, faculty, museum staff, and leadership to develop a strategic plan for University of Michigan's Museum of Art (UMMA) to become the cultural heart of the university so that the arts could become part of the every day life of students and faculty.


  • 20% increase in annual attendance

  • Launched Free Membership Program with 8,600+ members

  • Reached beyond the walls with innovative programs and installations


Tepper School of Business @ CMU

brightspot developed the design brief for a new 295,000 GSF multifunctional facility designed by MRY Architects. It will enable interaction among students and faculty, provide flexibility for programs to evolve, and enhance quality of life through amenities like dining and fitness.


  • Doubles size of current space

  • Enables 40% rise in undergraduate students and 50% rise in graduate students

  • Provides new home for Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship

 Image credit: Moore Ruble Yudell

Image credit: Moore Ruble Yudell


Student Experience Design @ PSU

To help Portland State increase access, equity, and student success, brightspot conducted user research that identified student needs — particularly for online adult learners — and identified three strategies to meet them: a coordinated network of student services, interactive degree maps, and a redesigned myPSU.


  • Interactive Degree Maps, Coordinated Service Network, and redesigned myPSU all implemented

  • 9M annual views of the myPSU website

  • Students rank the myPSU website as the easiest to use platform for student business at PSU

  • More than 4,600 active monthly users of the myPSU app

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Building Toward Student Success @ SUNY Fredonia

Assessed the current state and future potential for the student service experience and created a new vision for student success and an integrated hub for support services.


  • Developed a campus-wide vision for student success

  • Coordinated service delivery for 20 different student service providers

  • Integrated spaces of same providers and developed a shared space model for greater efficiency

Service Point Diagram SUNY Fredonia.jpg

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