Planning an interdisciplinary computer science hub for a Research I Institution

Planning the first home for a new College in an emerging discipline combines strategic planning and facilities planning and the creativity to invent the future rather than repeat the benchmarks of the past. brightspot worked with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Research Facilities Design to create the vision, program, and design for a Research I Institution’s new college of computer science. The College will be a hub connecting centers and labs across engineering, architecture, business, and the humanities to use computation while understanding its social and ethical implications.

brightspot worked with the Dean of the new College, the Institution’s leadership, and a faculty stakeholder group to craft a vision for the new College, understand the needs of the College and the research teams that will be housed in the building, and to develop a detailed space program for the new building. Our team conducted stakeholder interviews to gain a broad understanding of the various goals and visions for the new College. Through faculty interviews and survey, we were able to understand their space needs by the type of research activities envisioned and distill their needs into a series of research ‘phenotypes,’ each with associated spaces and infrastructure requirements. This approach gave the future building greater flexibility to conduct interdisciplinary research and was more attuned to how research teams worked and collaborated.

In a field experiencing explosive enrollment and research growth, programming would entail a complex set of trade-offs to best meet the new College’s spaces. In order to better and quickly assess a variety of program scenarios, we built a parametric model using data provided by the Institution and our internal benchmarks. Using the flexible model, leadership was able to quickly and easily the options to best meet the users’ needs and the new College’s strategic goals, within the constraints of the site and budget.

The new College will use brightspot’s program as the basis for the design of the new research hub. The mix of formal instructional and informal learning spaces within the program will be used to teach computer science to students throughout the Institution, and the laboratory spaces will bring together research teams from across the Institution to apply computing to fields as varied as biology, materials science, and engineering.

BrightSpot Strategy
BrightSpot Strategy