Planning for Higher Education Journal

The Transformative Educational Experience

A New Building Paradigm for Higher Education Campuses
Journal Cover
From Volume 41 Number 1 | October–December 2012
By Marjorie A. Chan, Elizabeth Main, John C. McNary
Planning Types: Campus Planning

The University of Utah administration introduced a major initiative to ensure that each student has an opportunity for a transformative educational experience. In response to this challenge, the Department of Geology and Geophysics developed a prototype for a transformative educational environment in the new Frederick Albert Sutton building. This built environment is designed to engage, inspire, and teach, and its accomplishments set a high bar for campus design. The result is a new paradigm for campus planning. This article traces the pioneering Sutton Geology and Geophysics Building as an exemplary model that uses two tangible design elements to support an outreach vision: academic branding and showcasing of the academic discipline. The reactions to the Sutton Building and the documented outcomes are the measure of ultimate success. The second half of the article presents the framework used to create a transformative educational environment, applicable to other campus buildings of any size or academic discipline. A road map of seven steps leads designers and academics to understand the creative vision and presents methods for implementing and repeating successes that change the educational environment through innovative campus design.

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