Understanding Your Campus DNA

Each higher education institution is built from its own unique combination of basic building blocks, the expression of which makes up the unique fabric of each campus. Understanding those building blocks is important in planning future campus improvements, whether the goal is to sensitively respect the existing campus fabric or chart a new path forward. History, mission, campus aspirations and values, the complex and intertwined relationships between academics and research, student life and recreation, athletics, alumni relations and the surrounding community all play a part in distinguishing one campus from another, both in terms of culture and physical environment.

For MCA, doing the Right Thing for your campus means making it our business to understand what makes each institution exceptional, to discern how the parts have shaped the present and how they can positively impact the future of campus.

Over the past 30 years, MCA has successfully delivered more than 500 higher education projects spanning every sector of campus. We relish the collaborative effort required to create and augment exemplary physical environments for our college and university clients, and we are committed to understanding the full life cycle of your facilities. MCA integrates our experience and technical knowledge, leveraging expertise of the Owner, CM / Contractor and design team to produce award winning design. We lead a data-driven, team design approach incorporating the latest trends in teaching pedagogy and technology to deliver superior, sustainable and long-lasting work.

Higher Education

The core of the academic campus revolves around effective learning and study spaces which support the curriculum and instructional pedagogy. From forward-looking, flexible, and technology-rich classrooms to highly specialized spaces such as those for the performing arts and sciences, MCA enjoys the opportunity to work with our higher education clients to forge architectural spaces that support your evolving mission. We supplement traditional academic classrooms and labs with spaces that encourage socialization, student-faculty interaction and collaboration outside of the classroom. Our experience covers a diverse range of curriculum and pedagogical approaches to instruction, with our portfolio featuring truly innovative thinking in the design of learning spaces.

Spanning academic teaching laboratories to state-of-the-art bio-containment laboratories for some of the nation’s leading medical institutions, MCA supports the academic teaching and research missions of engineering and the sciences. From planning and design expertise in laboratory safety, animal research, and equipment integration to meeting grant requirements for federally-funded initiatives such as through the National Science Foundation or the National Institutes of Health, MCA professionals have the bases covered. Being one of the largest campus energy users, laboratory facilities are approached with special attention to energy efficiency and sustainability, and MCA has been a corporate supporter of the Department of Energy’s Labs21 initiative for many years. Several of our science facilities have reached high sustainability objectives, including USGBC certifications up to LEED Platinum.

Student social and living experiences define the heart and soul of the higher education campus, and therefore facilities that support rich and meaningful student life make an indelible impact on campus culture. Including housing accommodations, student activity and recreation centers, and dining options, the spaces and places where students spend their ‘down time’ can forge an institutional identity lasting generations. MCA is pleased to have positively impacted the learning/living experience of many campus communities with nationally award-winning and published student life facilities.

Regardless of the competitive level of the institution, campus athletics serve as an important ingredient in the complex makeup of the modern higher education institution. Participation in athletics programs fosters institutional identity and pride through shared experience, is an important ingredient in alumni relations, and is a critical aspect for recruitment. Today’s scholar/athletes have increasingly higher expectations for the institution’s commitment to the athletics experience, and campuses often struggle to meet these expectations among the multitude of campus needs. MCA has successfully completed projects at every level of collegiate athletics and works with the institution and athletic staff to find solutions that are appropriate to the institutional mission, budget and aspirations. We also have a number of highly specialized strategic partners that we collaborate with for specific aspects of collegiate athletics that require unique skills, experience and benchmarking.

The modern academic campus is an immensely complex entity requiring a broad array of facilities and infrastructure to function. From administrative accommodations to maintenance facilities, central utility buildings and power substations, the scope of campus support needs is both broad and deep. MCA supports of our clients’ campus building, infrastructure and maintenance design needs for a vast array of project types and scales, from utility infrastructure work and minor building envelope remediation design through large capital projects.

As a firm that was formed to serve the needs of large institutional clients, MCA’s interest lies with accommodating the wide range of services required by these types of clients. Our projects for higher education institutions range from smaller “maintenance” design projects to very large capital projects.

Regardless of project scale and type, we service all with equal attention to the basics – program requirements, budget, schedule and aesthetic fit with the campus. Our professional services range from whole-campus building assessments involving millions of square feet of space, building envelope assessments and repair/replacement, through master planning, programming and our full range of specialized design services as described throughout our website.

We have worked with our clients through long term indefinite delivery/on-call/IDIQ contract arrangements and completed projects using design/bid/build, design/build and Construction Management delivery methods. For several clients we have provided unusual levels of project team integration typical of integrated project delivery (IPD) methodologies.

  • Our Practice

    Building for the Times


    We are also pleased with the way your team was able to transform a 1960s-era building into a 21st-century academic building.
    -Respected college client of 15+ years

    There was a mid-century building boom on college and university campuses. Many of these facilities still remain to be upgraded to meet current codes, newer energy and maintenance requirements, academic pedagogies, and student needs. Often, this requires additions which respect the existing campus fabric while seamlessly blending contemporary materials. MCA comfortably integrates vertical or adjacent additions to modernize existing buildings and energize campuses.

  • Our Practice

    Crowd Sourcing + Consensus Building


    MCA did an exceptional job of working with the College throughout the facility’s design and construction. The design team’s method of encouraging faculty participation from the very beginning of the project led to early buy-in to the design solution.
    -Respected college client of 15+ years

    One of the most valuable design resources are the people who will occupy the finished product: faculty, students, and administrators.  MCA uses creative strategies to engage and involve end-users – from building block design sessions to furniture competitions, project social media pages and online student surveys.

    All participants become advocates for the project when excitement, interest and consensus is built among key stakeholders.

Ready To Work On Your Next Higher Education Project?

Contact John C. Morrel, jmorrel@mca.design

View John's Bio