Summer time and the living’s easy. Unless you’re in charge of facilities on a higher education campus. If that is the case, you may be caught up in a cycle of perpetual improvement. Many of the best campuses are.
Looking back to April, remember how we discussed dotting i’s and crossing t’s? Well, we all know that campus preparations in the spring may have also involved making some temporary fixes to make the campus shine.
But now that summer has set in, it is time for permanent fixes to prepare for fall and beyond. Consider some of these likely suspects for needed attention and perpetual improvement:
Campus circulation system, both vehicular and pedestrian – take a test drive or a walk around campus, ideally with someone who has never been there before ”“ does the signage system lead them to where they want to go? Are the roadways and walkways in good shape? Are painted signs or finishes in need of maintenance? Have cattle-paths/desire lines appeared?
Identifiable places and spaces – it’s hard to know the exact outdoor spaces that will be remembered most fondly – a great number of variables impact the student experience and their specific sense of place on campus ”“ but providing ample options is important ”“ consider:
- are spaces used at night or during the day?
- is there opportunity for lots of sun and ample cool shade?
- do spaces need to look great once a year or all year round?
- do you have spots that are formal and others that are informal?
- can the spaces host intimate groups, grand receptions, either, or both?
- are spaces natural and organic or structured and formal?
- are spaces secluded or out in the open?
What about the physical elements that impact your image and identity? Walkways, entrances and edges, site furnishings, banners and flags. Is everything in good condition and coordinated or are elements in need of attention?
And finally, think of the living landscape. Summer is a key time for general bed maintenance, weeding, proper mowing techniques, and watching plants for water stress. And next month, we’ll share a more detailed checklist to address many more specific landscape and landscape maintenance items.
When many people are away enjoying vacations, maybe it will help to reflect on what has been written about Disneyland’s Main Street, described as “a perpetual tale of creation and re-creation, an eternal now.” The Disneyland Book of Secrets 2014, Leslie LeMon