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Rendering of students interacting in a campus hallway sitting on couches and walking through hallway
Georgia Institute of Technology - Student Engagement and Well-Being Facilities Planning

Meeting Present and Future Student Needs

Project Location

Atlanta, GA

Client

Georgia Institute of Technology

Area

82,000 SF

Scope

Programming and plan

In an effort to enhance student wellbeing, the Georgia Institute of Technology, commonly referred to as Georgia Tech, consolidated all departments that promote wellbeing under the Division of Student Engagement and Well-Being,

or SEWB. Together, we hosted a series of workshops to determine how physical space could be reconfigured and improved to reflect this newly unified organizational structure and to better serve the needs of students from various backgrounds and needs. This series of collaborative workshops allowed students, staff, and leadership to provide hands-on input on identified needs and recommendations.

We began by engaging more than 400 students and staff in a series of informal “person on the corner” conversations and detailed focus groups to understand the needs and challenges within Georgia Tech’s extremely diverse student body. Working collaboratively with each department, the planning team explored their challenges and the types of space required to best serve students. These conversations resulted in a plan that emphasizes the synergies between departments with similar purposes and provides shared hubs that meet the student population’s diverse needs in a way that is accessible and integrated. The final program bridges siloes and envisions spaces that create a physical embodiment of Georgia Tech’s unified approach to student well-being, belonging, and engagement.

The “Experiential Path” is the hub of Georgia Tech’s student services, bookended by the Campus Recreation Center and the newly renovated Student Center. Several buildings along the Experiential Path need significant renovations, and one of the larger buildings is being completely vacated. We created a detailed program for these buildings, including approximately 82,000 SF of space, based on the needs of each department.

The goal of the programming is to position wellness services and informal wellness spaces to become an integrated part of the campus experience. The resulting program encourages a holistic approach to serving students through several departments including counseling, student organizations, diversity, ethics, student health, and the arts. The program also includes space for a Black Cultural Center and the Women’s Center, LGBTQIA Center, and AAPI Center, as well as shared spaces for the cultural communities on campus. The plan also recommends renovating aging buildings to better interact with the Experiential Path and invite students to gather and enjoy spaces.

Expanding Access and Cultivating Wellbeing

In 2020, Georgia Tech restructured its Student Life and Campus Services into a singular unit for all nonacademic student services: the Division of Student Engagement and Well-Being, referred to as SEWB. The new unit was designed to better support success in line with the 2020-2030 Institute’s Strategic Plan. Our facilities plan and program provides a holistic review of space dedicated to SEWB and offers a recommendation for the highest and best of use of available space on campus.



01
Holistic Student Wellbeing

Examining the Whole of the Person

This study looks at providing activated and connected indoor and outdoor space for community, wellbeing and inclusion. In our effort to explore dimensions beyond physical and mental wellbeing on campus, our research in Evolution of Campus 4.0 concentrated on the eight dimensions of the Wellness Wheel: vocational, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, emotional, social, and financial wellbeing. This comprehensive approach allowed us to understand wellbeing on a more holistic level.

02
Student Engagement

Determining Key Priorities

We conducted a robust 360-degree engagement process, a fundamental aspect of our design process. Actively listening and engaging with Georgia Tech students and SEWB staff through person-on-the-corner interviews, focus groups, tabling events, and hands-on workshops provided essential insights that guide the development of program and design recommendations. Through the engagement process, a holistic and deep understanding of user needs emerged.

03
The Planning Process

Design Recommendations

Incorporating the guiding principles and feedback from campus engagement, our team developed a comprehensive SEWB program. The program assigns areas for administrative departments, student well-being areas, and social/study space. To help visualize and distinguish program areas, the design team established five distinct program types. The proposed building program allocations include:

 

—       Belonging, Community, and Intercultural Spaces

—       Student Wellness Spaces

—       Shared Meeting Spaces

—       Collaborative and Social / Study Spaces

—       Office Spaces

04
Final Program

Plan Overview

To enhance the level of connection students have with the campus community, we partnered with Georgia Tech to explore the relationship between the study buildings—the Industrial and Systems Engineering Building, Smithgall Student Services Building, the Pavilion Buildings, and Ferst Center for the Arts—the Experiential Path, and student-focused resources. The proposed program and building layouts enhance student success, wellbeing, and inclusion.

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