The Space Planning Model



UMBC’s Space Model is a tool that allows the campus to continually evaluate its space needs at the macro-scale. It is built upon thousands of variables used to determine the amount of assignable and non-assignable area the campus requires to satisfy its mission and operate effectively.  The model compares appropriate space quantities to the university’s existing space and/or to a proposed plan.  

Projections can be made for a variety of desired scenarios by changing any number of variables in the model.  The model allows the campus to test planning scenarios and project facility impacts due to programmatic changes under consideration.  Typical planning scenarios include changes in enrollment growth projections, evolving classroom and laboratory pedagogies and uses, new research emphases, staffing trends, demographic changes in the community or surrounding region, and increased campus housing capacity.  When variables are changed, the model presents the resulting space impacts associated with the adjustments.  

As such, the Space Model is a valuable tool to evaluate facility space impacts driven by strategic goals and objectives.  The ability to provide sound data is particularly beneficial in an academic planning process, a strategic planning process, and especially, in long range facility planning.

Use of the Model

The Space Model was initiated specifically for the campus Master Plan Update.  However, it is intended to be dynamic and used on an ongoing basis as a planning tool.  It can be used for a variety of planning and prioritization processes. 

As it was crafted, detail was incorporated in a way that allows the university to evaluate the impact of individual departments on space needs related to classroom demand, research activities, administrative functions, and student life activities.    The Space Model provides very specific data at the departmental level for spaces such as classrooms, laboratories, and offices.  The intent is not to identify the amount of space to be assigned to each department but rather quantify space needs driven by each department’s programmatic requirements.  It is important to view the results of this model from a macro perspective because of the varying levels of detail for each variable and the fact that most campus spaces are shared resources.

The Space Model is intentionally designed as a flexible tool to respond to changes in space guidelines and continually improve upon the space and personnel variables.  The model is configured to permit addition of other space factors, such as quality and condition, functional obsolescence, and adjacency issues. The facilities audit or facilities condition assessment can be incorporated into the model.

By adjusting the variables, the model provides a description of the space needs for the campus at any given time.  Current, planned, and projected enrollment scenarios can be input. Adjustments on faculty and staff loads can be manipulated.  Guidelines used to determine the space needs can be changed at any time as well. The “what ifs” are almost endless.

The Space Model directly ties into the physical master planning and long range facilities plans.  It provides data necessary for each, and can also help identify priorities for project planning.  However, the model is not intended to replace program level analysis and space issues associated with planning for specific projects should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis in the form of facility programs.