Pushing beyond boundaries
In 2020, Santa Fe Community College selected the Shepley Bulfinch | McClain + Yu team to create a new campus master plan. The overall goal was to physically manifest the College’s strategic plan in turn focusing on supporting students, partnering with the community, and building capacity. Having only visited the campus once before, and now being limited by pandemic restrictions, the project team turned to complete virtual engagement to advance the project.
Through the virtual white boards and video calls, team members identified how to re-approach their typical design process. Navigating the campus’ culture and student engagement in a virtual environment was new territory. Team members troubleshooted ways to adapt, which included utilizing Google Earth to get the “feel” of the campus and identifying trusted advisors to get a better understanding of the campus culture. While there were some missing components from the in-person experience, the team was able to open and develop realms of communication in a brand-new way.
Hybrid work led to the discovery of unique advantages. Sketches, for example, didn’t need to be hand drawn and physically pinned up on a wall. Often, sketches need to be scanned and always available digitally – with a Miro digital whiteboard, the process became more seamless and integrated across offices, breaking down physical boundaries. Additionally, partners who previously couldn’t participate in the workshop process were now sharing their thoughts and content.
“The beauty of working digitally is that we were able to open up our communication realms. Not only could we communicate with team members on Miro boards but we could also loop clients in earlier and show the progress. When we are back in person, it will be great to still use these virtual boards, so our collaboration isn’t solely restricted to paper,” notes Pete Rasmussen, AIA, NCARB of Shepley Bulfinch.
These new working formats didn’t just produce new collaboration solutions for the Santa Fe Community College – it also reiterated the value of designing buildings with flexibility to accommodate changing needs. The team noted the importance of reinforcing the exteriors to bring in outside circulation and open the classrooms and offices to the outdoor courtyards. Furthermore, creating spaces that accommodate video recording will allow students to still be present for lectures if they aren’t able to physically attend due to health, environmental or commute factors.