University hires firm to assess space utilization

Gannon University’s 2013 spring cleaning involves a little bit more than cleaning out closets.

Last week, the administration commissioned a steering committee that will work with architecture consultant firm Buehler and Associates to gather surveys to gauge the spatial needs of each department and provide recommendations to better utilize space.

Director of Purchasing Andrew Teets, a member of the committee, said the first surveys will go out to professors before the end of the semester, with the review of the administrative offices coming in the summer.

After the surveys, Buehler and Associates will take measurements of classrooms and offices and update the drawing schemes of each building. The entire process should be completed by August.

“We really wanted to minimize the impact of disruption with students,” Teets said. “Obviously we can’t be going in and measuring classrooms while classes are actively going on.”

The nature of the space-utilization project is planning, so while there are no definite renovation plans in place, Teets said the very “undertaking” of this project – especially the digitization of the building plans – is in itself encouraging.

“This university has been in place for quite some time and maybe some of the drawings we have of buildings aren’t quite as up to date as they need to be,” Teets said. “By doing this, we’re going to have updated plans that are digital that we can send out.”

The project is mainly a proactive measure, Teets said, as there are no glaring spatial needs that he is aware of, but some departments might prefer a different location than they currently have.

“We’re trying to get an idea from each department how much space they actually need and what services they need,” Teets said. “Then we’ll come up with the best plan of where they really should be going forward.”

As an example, Teets pointed to the southern section of the third floor of the Palumbo Academic Center, which houses ITS and University Marketing.

“For the most part Palumbo is an academic building,” Teets said. “Maybe those particular areas, which are really administrative, aren’t really meant to be there.”

The former Loyal Christian Benefit Association building at the corner of West Seventh and Peach streets could be affected by the results of the space-planning surveys. Gannon bought the building in 2011 and the building’s tenants moved out in December.

In February, Gary Garnic, associate vice president for campus services, addressed a rumor that the theatre and communication arts department might move into the building.

“Those thoughts and notes and plans are all sitting in a folder now waiting,” Garnic said. “There’s nothing that I’m aware of that would change us from thinking that the theatre and comm arts is heading to the LCBA.”

Once the space-planning surveys are collected, Buehler and Associates will be able to recommend plans to the administration to best utilize the space available to each department.

“The study will look to see what renovations would be necessary,” Teets said. “Could it be possible? Sure. Maybe they’ll look at reconfiguring spaces, but it’s really a bit too early to determine that.”

According to Teets, the initiative is directed toward Gannon faculty and staff, thus neither the steering committee nor Buehler and Associates have set aside time for students to contribute to the surveys at this time.

“I would assume there probably is going to be a student component to that,” Teets said, “I don’t know what the delivery method is at this time. That’s something we’ll have to determine by the committee.”

 

DAN KUBACKI

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