Space Planning Strategies

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UB uses a strategy of space management principles and processes to provide a comprehensive framework for the effective management of space resources. 

Introduction to Space Planning

The campus must manage its space resources with the utmost care to fully realize our academic potential and the full value of our facilities. As a result, current space assignments may need to change, and when new buildings are completed, the disposition of space in the new buildings and the released space in existing buildings must be allocated consistent with our institutional goals and objectives and to remedy critical space shortages.

Key Guidelines for Space Management

  • They should be conceptually simple, consolidating various formulaic elements into single standards whenever possible
  • They should be administered flexibly, encouraging creativity at campus, provostial, vice presidential, School/College and departmental levels
  • They should be interpreted broadly and not become highly specific design standards where exact sizes of rooms are dictated without regard to need, function or facility constraints
  • They should be accompanied by strong accountability and reporting requirements
  • They should be reviewed on a regular basis
  • They should not be changed unless a compelling case for change can be demonstrated *.

    * A Capacity for Learning: Revising Space and Utilization Standards for California Public Higher Education. California Post Secondary Education Commission, Summary, 1990.

Space Planning Principles

UB adheres to principles in planning for new space and the management of all space for the University at Buffalo — whether located on campus or off-campus. These principles apply to all university units — academic, administrative, housing and student services.

Principle Framework

  • The State University of New York “owns” all University at Buffalo space, both on campus and off-campus not built by private funds outside of its administrative aegis.The student housing units built with University at Buffalo Foundation (UBF) funds are “owned” by the UBF until the debt service is paid for the mortgage on these units. The President has overall responsibility for the equitable and optimum use of space resources and has final decision authority for the planning, allocation, assignment and reassignment of all spaces.The President may choose to delegate that authority to other institutional officers as he/she would determine.
  • The President (or the Provost as designee) is responsible for analyzing and determining appropriate space assignments and planning for future space projects within a larger vision for the development of the university and its constituent campuses through appropriate bodies as designated and charged by the President (or the Provost as designee).
  • Unless prohibited by contract or funding source obligations, policy or statute, space is reassignable. For space that has an outstanding debt, a reassignment of space also involves a proportionate assumption of that outstanding debt.
  • Principle considerations for the use of any building space will be the original intent, current function and the sources of funds that built, renovated or currently maintain that space. These considerations are not the exclusive guidance in evaluating space assignments or reassignments but are fundamental elements in any space use discussion.
  • Campus space should not be assigned to unaffiliated organizations for other than fee-based temporary or occasional use. The campus may choose to rent space to affiliated entities consistent with campus policies at fair market value if these agreements advance the goals and objectives of the institution.

Space Management Processes

Criteria for Establishing Space Need

All Spaces

We have proposed the quantitative and technical considerations throughout this document that will be used as a guide in evaluating space need
Specific programmatic needs may modify the quantitative considerations for evaluating space need
Even though a space may be large enough when compared with our space standards, the location, functional layout and/or other attributes of the space may modify the considerations about the effectiveness of the particular space to meet the needs of a particular program
The establishment of new programs may require an allocation of additional space to a unit
Existing programs may be disbanded, combined or reorganized thereby requiring a reevaluation and probable reallocation of the space associated with the original program
Codes and regulations governing the availability of lavatory facilities, safety, handicapped accessibility, energy conservation and environmental concerns will be considered when allocating and developing space

Instructional Space

Workload factors (FTE students, faculty staff, student course enrollments, and weekly student contact hours in facilities) together with space standards suggested in Attachment A should drive the calculation of a broad envelope of space need for instructional facilities. These standards are intended to be used as overall planning and budgeting tools. They should not be applied to individual programs without a thorough review of the program and necessary adjustments to the standards
Changing instructional methodologies and changing curricula may increase or decrease the space needs for instructional facilities

Research Space

The standards will also drive the calculation of a broad envelope of research space need. Again, these standards provide a guide for planning and budgeting purposes
Research space should be used productively. The review of proposals for the reassignment of space and the ongoing management of research space should involve periodic examination of the research activity generated in the assigned space. It may be necessary or appropriate to reassign space based upon continuing reviews of unit or faculty space productivity
The level and nature of research activity and the different and changing state-of-the-art instrumentation required to support research may call for more or less space than specified
Unique programs have unique space requirements and must be allocated space based upon their particular need

Academic Office Space

There will likely be the need to prioritize the assignment of academic and administrative offices. To the extent possible, office space sizes should be determined (for new buildings) and allocated for existing buildings based on the office space guidelines

Unit directors (Provost, Deans, Department Chairs) allocate academic offices. The following guidance is offered for the priority allocation of these spaces in an academic organization:

  • Ladder rank (tenured/tenure-track) faculty
  • Full time teaching faculty (non-tenured/tenure-track)
  • Teaching adjuncts/visitors
  • Postdoctoral students
  • Teaching assistants
  • Visiting scholars
  • Emeritus faculty
  • All other employee type

Individuals should not be assigned more than one academic office.

  • Library Space: Library space needs are based on numbers of users, collection size and library staffing. Changes in the use of library space based on changing acquisition patterns, the changing nature of the materials handled by the library and changing strategies for the management and housing of those materials may result in additional or reduced library space as determined in a collaborative planning discussion
  • Administrative Space: Office adequacy and functional analyses will be conducted by the Planning and Budget office to determine the space required and allocated by unit directors to house staff of all ranks, equipment and activity for all administrative activities across the campus and in off-campus locations. This analysis will also address needs for storage and any other miscellaneous space needs associated with the administration of university activities
  • Physical Education/Sports and Recreational Facilities: These plans and allocations of available facilities are a function of student interests, academic and student experience goals of the campus and available funds (if expansion is required). It is important that these facility issues and needs be a featured aspect of the campus physical master planning effort to begin soon and that future uses of space comply with the intent of that master plan. With respect to Intercollegiate Athletics, in particular, plans and allocations of available facilities are a function of the size of the general student population, the number of student athletes participating, the number of sports programs offered and a reflection of the level at which the institution competes
  • Academic and Student Support Services: These plans and the allocation of space for these activities are also a function of student interests, academic and student experience goals and available funds (if expansion or facilities improvements are required)
  • Housing: Guidelines for establishing the amount and adequacy of housing for students shall be based on campus goals for the housing experience, campus academic and enrollment goals, campus financial feasibility and an appreciation of the market context within which our plans and use of housing space would be determined
  • Student Union, Student clubs and other Student Activities spaces: These plans and the allocation of space for these activities are also a function of campus goals for the student experience and campus space availability
  • Other Public Spaces: Use of space for these purposes will be considered within the context of larger university space priorities and plans for campus development (lounges, galleries, atria, other reception spaces, etc.)

Space Management Conclusion

The foregoing principles and processes will govern the planning for use and review and reassignment of our physical space in a rational, flexible manner. Not only will these formulations guide our internal planning, but create the management structure and the information analyses that guide the creation of a long-range capital facilities master plan and the case for capital investment we can make with our public land to private benefactors.

Contact an Expert

Kelly M Hayes Mcalonie.

Kelly M. Hayes Mcalonie FAIA, LEED AP


Campus Planing

119V John Beane Cente

Phone: 716-645-2989


Cheryl Bailey.

Cheryl Bailey

Associate Director

Campus Planning

119 Beane Center

Phone: 716-645-3835


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