Project Management for Higher Education Construction

Across the United States, colleges, universities and technological institutes are expanding their campuses. The environment for expansion and new construction is a no-brainer: low interest rates, increased endowments, and built-up demand for newer facilities that can keep up with technology changes and other universities’ expansions and modernizations. According to The Wall Street Journal, “higher learning construction was valued at $11.4 billion, up 13% from the previous year and at the largest dollar value of construction starts since the peak year of 2008, according to Dodge Data & Analytics.”[1]

When one university begins an expansion, renovation, or new construction project on campus, others who compete for the same student base feel the need to upgrade their facilities as well. Classrooms, research facilities, and dormitories are all being considered for overhauls. Existing dorms are being replaced with residence halls that have greater Wi-Fi access and state-of-the-art infrastructure to support the technological demand for more outlets, power supplies and interfaces. Classrooms are adapting to new ways of learning through technology and advancements in IT and other forms of high-tech.

To meet the demand for master planning and capital improvement projects and to complete them on time and on budget, higher education institutions are enlisting more owner’s representatives and project management firms. By leveraging a third party, university facilities managers and construction managers can execute a large-scale project while performing their traditional job functions. Third-party usage also gives institutions flexibility: whether for two hours a week or full time for a project’s duration, a project management firm will provide the needed resources on demand. It also assures universities another set of eyes and ears to help with cost savings, monitor construction activity so that what was planned is delivered, and access to an expert’s counsel 24/7.

As university expansions and upgrades continue, third-party project managers and owner’s representatives are playing larger roles than ever. Their ability to save projects time, money and headaches make them ideal matches for the increased demand for new construction on college, university and technological institute campuses.

[1] Ford, Constance Mitchell, “Pomp and Construction: Colleges Go on a Building Tear,” The Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10323975786436414884004581065902525033790

Stephen Fean
Stephen Fean is the Vice President of Business Development at Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers, a real-estate consulting firm that provides owner’s representation and project management services. More about Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers as well as additional blog posts can be found here.
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