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How Master Planning Can Change the Future Fortunes of a Community College
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How Master Planning Can Change the Future Fortunes of a Community College

Like most community colleges around the nation, Brookdale Community College (BCC) in Lincroft, New Jersey has experienced challenging years. Seeking to stem a decade of declining enrollments exacerbated by the pandemic, coupled with the need to fully assess the best way to utilize current facilities and where new construction or renovation is a priority, BCC knew that it needed a comprehensive plan of action – a Facilities Master Plan (FMP). That is when it turned to SSP Architects.

“After meeting with BCC’s key stakeholders, it became clear that the Facilities Master Plan had to think big, explore new ideas, and establish a vision that would guide growth and prioritize enhancements on campus. It also had to take into account changes in technology and teaching methodologies, especially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure the campus can support modern educational practices,” said Marcus Rosenau, principal of SSP Architects.

With the recent completion of the Master Plan, BCC now has a framework for the future evolution of the college. It has a comprehensive guide for the physical maintenance and development of its Main Lincroft Campus, as well as the Wall and Freehold campuses.

Facilities Assessment – A Key Component of Master Planning

Integral to the Master Plan was a comprehensive facilities assessment to determine the conditions of BCC’s buildings. The SSP team assessed all campus facilities to determine priority renovations that are needed, ways the facilities could be adapted for new educational needs, and spaces where greater efficiency, accessibility, safety, and flexibility can be realized.

“The Master Plan gives BCC the data and analysis it needs to better utilize current facilities and assess their quality, identify areas of need for renovation, new construction, upgrades for code compliance, and greater handicap accessibility,” said Rosenau.

According to Rosenau, the SSP facility assessment for BCC will enable it to budget properly in the coming years to address essential aspects of building maintenance, additions, renovations, and improvements to functionality and circulation.

Making Greater Use of Underutilized Space

Given years of declining enrollment, which has now been steadied, the FMP Team found that many classrooms and labs were underutilized. According to Rosenau, this creates an opportunity for as many as 23 classrooms throughout campus to be repurposed or used for swing space during the proposed, future renovations. Key strategies to foster a physical environment to support academic goals for the future include:

  • Committing to capital investment in the existing facilities and infrastructure to improve operating efficiencies.
  • Improving wayfinding throughout campus for both vehicles and pedestrians.
  • Developing a new, larger home for the highly rated Culinary Arts program.
  • Maximizing the use of the Wall Campus by relocating secondary nursing/medical programs to this campus.
  • Establishing a more welcoming, unified campus gateway by creating a One-Stop Center at Larrison Hall.
  • Expanding the Business Department’s impact by consolidating in the CAR Building.

Being There for Students at Risk

During these difficult financial times for many families, as well as the rising mental health crisis, it was found that there is a greater need for student support services. With the help of the Master Plan, the BCC is looking into additional ways to help students at risk, including having a permanent location for a food pantry, offering “last mile” transportation solutions to campus, identifying emergency housing resources, and expanding affordable daycare/childcare.

“Having a clear plan with an implementation schedule allows BCC to properly budget for the work and seek funding more effectively – thereby reducing the student cost burden. Ultimately, this means Brookdale can meet the needs of the community more comprehensively,” said Rosenau.

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