Aerial view of Ohio University's Athens campus at sunset
Campus Space Optimization Initiative

Campus Space Optimization Initiative

Ohio University is pioneering a space model that revolutionizes the traditional approach to space allocation. This forward-thinking initiative entails a comprehensive reimagining of space function, ownership, and budget allocation across the campus community. The centerpiece of this new model involves a profound shift in how spaces are defined, introducing a taxonomy based on activities and room attributes, rather than rigidly predefined room types and access. This innovative categorization comprises four key dimensions: 'Schedulable' spaces for organized events, 'Informal' spaces fostering casual interactions, 'Individual Workspaces' promoting focused work, and 'Dedicated Activity/Purpose' spaces tailored to specific functions. In conjunction, the initiative is resetting mindset of ownership and budgeting of space ensuring that spaces are fully utilized. The model creates an open and transparent portfolio accessible to the broader campus community and decouples space investments from exclusive uses.

By creating use flexibility, simplifying tools used for scheduling, and shifting the culture around space ownership, OHIO will open opportunities for efficiency over time and divert more resources toward student impact areas.

Workgroups have been established in six focus areas, and the university is partnering with architecture and space planning firm Ayers Saint Gross. The firm’s expertise is in "long-range strategies for the growth and transformation of physical settings." They work with institutions to analyze space in order to achieve the best possible use of capital assets.


Planning Model

Rethink Function

  • Adjust the University portfolio away from a defined room type to allow more shared spaces
  • Utilize space based on activity, room attributes

Review Ownership

  • Provide transparency on the availability and function of space across the system
  • Create full utilization of space through an open and transparent portfolio available to the broader campus community

Streamline Budget

  • Investment in space does not dictate dedicated use
  • Budget policy encourages sharing and efficient use of resources and space 

Focus Areas

The planning team has engaged colleagues with expertise across the institution to lead the focus areas. Each of the focus areas has a work group comprised of faculty, staff and students who collaborate with our planning team and consultants to provide needs, priorities and issues to work through.

All focus areas are tasked with providing transparency on availability and utilization of space across the system through an integrated scheduling model and establishing a set of standards for decision making around space use, with the aim of driving the highest and best use of space.

  • Formal Learning Spaces

    • Define formal learning spaces and create principles for future use.
    • Establish consistent learning space experience include multiple points of view.
  • Budget

    • Update elements of the budget model that relate to space
    • Incentivize the equitable access to space to maximize highest and best use
  • Research Space

    • Provide sufficient space with clear understanding of attributes to enable faculty, students, and staff to conduct forefront research
    • Provide flexibility of research space across the system, creating a better inventory of existing space and a governance structure that supports meeting campus research needs
  • Collaboration, Work & Study Spaces

    • Understand needs and opportunities across this focus area
    • Provide transparency and develop guidelines to increase availability and multifunctional use
  • Technology, Scheduling & Space Management Tools

    • Develop a system that provides transparency of space portfolio and its utilization for planning decisions
    • Review existing tools and make recommendations for tools/technology that supports space management and campus access to data
  • Student, Alumni & Community Engagement

    • Identify & review space offerings, how spaces serve our community, and identify needs.
    • Consider projects across the system to meet student, and community needs.

Near Term Goals

  1. Understanding of true campus utilization and ability to promote higher and better use of space from that data.
  2. A portfolio management system for space/land holdings, review of scheduling software to minimize multiple systems and connect the two for transparency of available space, utilization, and ease of reporting.
  3. A developed plan for Learning Spaces that factors pedagogy, curriculum, and learning needs to align technology and space investments and transformation.
  4. Guidelines and Principles for focus areas: Research, Learning Spaces, Work/Collaboration, Student Engagement, Technology and Scheduling, and Budget.
  5. Development of appropriate governance structures for space including a consistent system for updating, reporting, and leveraging space opportunities to meet programmatic needs.

The planning team will be holding public discussion sessions throughout spring semester. We will announce these in upcoming communications and place them on the events calendar. Once the plans have been drafted and approved (targeting end of June 2023), the implementation phase will begin. At that time, further opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to engage with the initiative will be announced. 

  • Provide Your Input

    Fill out our Space Utilization Survey to help assess our campus spaces. We plan to share your feedback with leadership and incorporate your comments into space optimization discussions.