Planning for Higher Education Journal

The Emergence of Design Review Boards

Journal Cover
From Volume 21 Number 3 | Spring 1993
By Roger Schluntz

To ensure consistently superior design in campus buildings that enhance the campus, several public universities have developed a new entity: the design review board. By 1990 at least seven state universities had recently implemented some form of review process. A dozen or more private institutions have had review committees for years. Often these public universities imitated review boards that had emerged in city governments with the historic preservation movment. Institutions, however, were able to act more efficiently by nature of their singular land ownership. The new design review boards were established mainly to (1) "Preserve threatened historic buildings and campus settings," (2) "Provide directions and design coherence for the physical growth of the campus settings," (3) "Increase the aesthetic quality and utility of all future buildings," and (4) "Create a finer outdoor environment of space and landscape." The size of the review board varies from five to 10. One university has monthly mettings; most meet two or three times a year. The members usually include the dean or head of the academic program in architecture and typically at least one member who is a nationally recognized architect and planner. All but one institution uses outside architects. Sometimes at least one member isn't an architect (which provides for balance). Members typically hold three-year terms. The campus facilities planner or resident architect is usually an nonvoting member. All of the boards studied are advisory to the president or chancellor. The review boards tend to review proposals at several check points even before design begins and hopefully become integrated in the design process. One concern voiced is that review boards slow design and thus increase costs. There are, however, rewards that come from a more unified campus of outstanding design. This is the goal that the design review board hopes to achieve.

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