A conversation with any school’s leadership about the history of its campus planning quickly reveals the trials and triumphs of what it takes to move a community from one conception of its campus to another.
This is not an unusual conversation. Independent schools navigate their campus plans through a myriad of changes and uncertainties, often over long periods. Even the best-laid plans are under constant scrutiny by forces from within and without. Yet, schools recognize the obligation of a planning process to lead, to periodically pause, to focus the collective energies, and to steer the organization toward shared objectives for the coming era. It is not diminished just because the path is uncertain and fraught with risk. It is, in fact, all the more critical that the process lead, and lead well.
In order for campus planning to enable that leadership, it must be more than a one-off architectural exercise or prelude to a building campaign that trustees and administrators take aim at every few years. Great campus planning is guided by a strategic awareness—a point of view, and tightly linked to execution. It accepts continuous feedback from the organization and the broader community. It enables an organization to assess its progress and make appropriate course corrections along the way. These plans are mutable; they live and evolve. In short, great campus planning is a continuous effort that values adaptation over conformance, stewardship over coincidence, and steering over aiming.