Adaptations Brendan Iribe Center

Adaptations in Higher Education

We believe that one of the best ways to learn is from experience — either our own or others. HDR is in a unique position in that we work with academic institutions around the globe that offer diverse perspectives on higher education. We embrace the opportunity to share what we have learned from our projects and more importantly what we learn from the practitioners and academics who collaborate with us. We want to highlight innovative teaching methods that they are using, but also make space for a broader dialogue about what works, and what doesn’t. What are some of the lessons learned and how can we improve on these ideas?

Adaptations is a series of interviews with educators and administrators representing diverse backgrounds and disciplines. These interviews examine how academic institutions are adapting to the ever-changing higher education landscape and how the built environment helps or hinders them in that effort.

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We help make academic visions come to life through strategic facilities planning, the design of new classroom and laboratory buildings and renovations that modernize facilities.

Designing to Center Library Operations Around Students

This interview is the first of a two-part series with leaders from the Community College of Philadelphia, diving into the unique qualities of their student body, the evolving role of academic librarians, the increased printing of digital materials, and how libraries impact students' view of the world.

Community College of Philadelphia Upstairs View
Community College of Philadelphia Library

Libraries as the Epicenter of Campus

This interview is the second of a two-part series with leaders from the Community College of Philadelphia, exploring the qualities of an emerging library typology that challenges the library's traditional role by prioritizing open, collaborative space for students over book storage. Continue reading to understand what it means to design for students, how this can happen without building new, the functionality of glass-enclosed stacks, and how the design process strengthens the bond among faculty.

Campus Sustainability: Where We Go From Here

In August 2021, HDR hosted three university facilities and sustainability leaders from three different countries in a Virtual Adaptations panel to discuss the growth, strategies and challenges of sustainability efforts on their respective campuses and in higher education. Their thoughtful insights shed light on a topic that has risen to the forefront of university issues as climate change becomes an ever-increasing reality.

Trinity University Stock Photo

Adapting through the Pandemic

During this virtual panel, conducted in August 2020, we took a closer look at virtual learning and how academic institutions in the U.S. and Canada are structuring classes in the fall. We discussed the challenges of in-person lectures, hybrid courses, and space requirements for different modes of learning. 

During this virtual panel, conducted in August 2020, we discussed town-gown relationships — specifically how the short-term needs of universities, colleges and the towns they are located in have fundamentally shifted due to the pandemic and how some long-term ones are likely to as well. 

During this virtual panel conducted in July 2020, we discussed how public health guidance impacted the "return to campus" for institutions in the U.S. and Canada, emphasizing how higher education leaders are thinking about creating a meaningful and safe student experience in the current moment.

megan elliott johnny carson center

Building an Emerging Media Arts Program from the Ground-Up

In this interview, we sit down with Megan Elliott, founding director of UNL's Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts, and discuss the “origin story” of the new Center and how Megan worked with many stakeholders to assure that the program and the space worked together to achieve her vision. 

adaptations higher education johnny carson center emerging media arts

Designing a "Mixed-Use" Home for an Emerging Media Arts Center

In the second part of our interview with Megan, we talk about the inspiration behind the design of the building and the vision of it being a different type of educational facility that’s connected to both the community and the larger UNL campus in meaningful ways.

Student Leadership and Campus Life for the Century Ahead

In this interview, we sit down with Marianne Simm, Vice Principal of Students, at Brescia University College to discuss the changes she has seen on the Brescia University College campus and across the higher education landscape.  Our interview captured Marianne’s perspective on what “leadership” means to Brescia, how academic institutions are adjusting to lifelong learning and new student pathways, and the inherent benefits and challenges of collaboration with the industry and other institutions. 

Adaptations Brescia University College Student Leaderhsip

Inside Today’s Food Science Labs and Classrooms

In this interview, we talk with Dr. Colleen O’Connor, associate professor and undergraduate coordinator for nutrition and dietetics in the School of Food & Nutritional Sciences at Brescia University College in London, Ontario, to discuss her experience with food science education and research over the years. Our interview captured Dr. O’Connor’s perspective on key themes like the shift to active learning, the importance of industry engagement and interdisciplinary collaboration in today’s educational landscape, and the value of current trends such as “science on display” that are prominent in the new Academic Pavilion

brescia university college food labs
Houston Community College Interview

The Job Readiness Factor

Part 1 of our interview with Houston Community College’s (HCC) Dr. Phillip Nicotera, President of the Coleman College for Health Sciences and Jeff Gricar, Dean of Health Sciences focuses the importance that post-secondary experiences play in helping prepare students for future jobs. The interview highlights some of the strategies that HCC is using to reach out to students, prepare them for the working world, and assure they have great educational experiences.

Adaptations Higher Education Houston Community College

Community College Focus on In-Demand Allied Health Jobs

In Part 2 of our interview, Dr. Nicotera and Dean Gricar discuss how the allied health programs at HCC's Coleman College for Health Sciences are evolving to meet the demands of a changing healthcare system. They also highlight how community colleges in general play a significant role in job training for the United State's allied health workforce. 

Re-Imagining the Teaching Lab for Inquiry-Based Learning

In Part 1 of our interview with Professor John Kyndt from Bellevue University in Omaha, Nebraska, he discusses the process for designing a new type of teaching lab that meets the changing needs of undergraduate science curricula and of higher education as a whole.  Dr. Kyndt emphasizes the emerging role of inquiry-based education, and how it informed a collaborative effort to create a “Science, Research and Demonstration” Lab in the Bellevue Lab renovations.

Bellevue University Interview

The Hybrid Course: Virtual Learning & the Physical Classroom

In Part 2 of our interview with Professor Kyndt, he discusses his experience with implementing a hybrid course — which incorporates elements of both the physical and virtual classroom in the same course.

Bellevue University Lab Interview