TELLING A SCHOOL’S STORY THROUGH CONSTRUCTION: How Wise is Helping Pave the Way for Present and Future Higher-Education Design

Andrew Lynch, Project Executive, says one of his favorite parts of working in the academic sector of construction is being able to teach a teacher. “On an academic project, you are not only working alongside the institution’s project managers, architects or engineers, you’re working with faculty members who will actually be using that space and teaching in it. So it is always a privilege of mine to be able to explain to a science professor about how we install equipment in their lab spaces, or explain to an English professor how we use the safest practices to renovate a lecture hall.”

Wise Construction has worked on a wide range of academic projects spanning the Greater Boston area’s most prestigious academic institutions. Wise’s academic portfolio includes, but is not limited to, laboratories, performing arts and studio spaces, athletic facilities, classrooms and lecture halls, libraries, and auditoriums—all requiring different skills and learning to adapt to unique personalities.

There are a few key characteristics of the academic projects Wise has completed and is completing, including:

  1. Spatial planning.
  2. Timely turnaround. An average academic project at Wise can take anywhere from 12-30 weeks. Speed and efficiency is a priority while tailoring schedules to mesh with tight academic calendars. Often times, projects must be completed over the summer recess and turned over for the return of students in the fall. These projects are affectional know as “Summer Slammers”. 
  3. Working around you. Working around faculty, students, school events and classes is a significant part of an academic construction project. Striving to go unnoticed in all our construction activities, communicate clearly and effectively about work areas and traffic re-routing, and maintain high standards of cleanliness, including dust and noise control, are only some of the ways we work around you.
  4. Creating an adaptable space. Many of the academic spaces we are now working on have some sort of operable partition, mobile furniture or casework, and a layout that allows multipurpose usage. This allows easy conversion of a space so there are multiple uses for it in the future, including educational or research needs.
  5. Control of vibrations/acoustics. Most academic buildings or classrooms are in close proximity to sensitive lab environments or classrooms. Therefore, minimizing noise, vibration, and other sources of disturbance is always a critical component of our projects.
  6. Maintain campus and department standards. Each individual school or department often have their own standards which must be maintained. Knowing an institution’s standards allow for a smooth project from beginning to end.

Besides performing construction safely in an active educational facility, one of the most important aspects of Wise Construction’s Higher-Ed projects is providing a creative environment with innovative technology, giving universities and colleges the tools necessary to successfully educate their students.

Academic construction and design has an extremely technology-based future. Project teams will start to see more and more challenges regarding how to integrate catered technology in learning environments in unique ways. Wise is particularly adept at renovating older facilities and historic buildings, and implementing the right type of technology that that the institution requires to incorporate whilst preserving the building’s historic design features and original infrastructure. Recently, robust AV designs are widely being modified within teaching areas which will only continue evolving for broader teaching scales and smarter collaboration. Air filtration and maintaining HVAC systems are always a critical component of any academic project and now more important than ever.

If COVID taught the construction industry anything, it’s that who knows what the future can hold. Staying on top of trends and planning ahead for any future challenge is what will define the future of higher-education construction.

With technology becoming even more of an inevitability in today’s academic world, Wise prides itself on embracing the changes while respecting the history of those past generations that have graced the infrastructures of the buildings we have had the pleasure to enhance. A school building is special; the quirky characteristics of the buildings should be protected so memories can stay alive. A beautiful human reaction is to reminisce. A school should allow people of all ages— alumni, faculty or student—to remember and re-live their school years. An academic construction project is not only necessary for future leaders to learn, it’s to maintain a school’s proud history and legacy.