Columbia University hosted more than 250 campus facilities directors, administrators, planners, architects and builders during a Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) conference entitled "Bricks and Clicks: Challenges in the Digital Age." Because of its efforts to enhance the teaching and learning process, student services and classroom design using digital technologies, Columbia offered the ideal backdrop for the conference and also contributed a number of speakers, who shared "best practices" in teaching and planning with technology.
"It is fitting that you are here, since, as you can see from our historic McKim, Mead & White campus, planning is a central tenant of our institution," said Mark Burstein, vice president for facilities management in a welcome to participants. "As we became more active in our construction program, we collaborated with community representatives to create the Framework for Planning to marry the principles of campus preservation and off-campus development. This has allowed us to construct two million square feet of new space and upgrade our campus grounds, while still being mindful of historic preservation issues on campus and off."
Striking a balance between past and future has been a major problem for colleges and universities, especially those with historic campuses. The adoption of rapidly evolving digital technologies in higher education has had a significant impact on teaching delivery, pedagogical style, physical facilities, student services and distance learning in recent years and questions of best practices remain. The conference gave designers, builders and administrators a broad-brush view of the planning challenges and pedagogical opportunities raised by today's high-tech world.
Among Columbia presenters, Frank Moretti, executive director for the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning, discussed the implications of digital media on academia in the keynote address. The Low Library historic renovation project by Helpern Architects, which is using imaging technology to model how this century-old building infrastructure has aged, was a favored presentation. AcIS staff also demonstrated the value of Internet 2 for videoconferencing.