Feature Article - June 2020
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Trends in Colleges & Universities

A Look at Trends in Colleges & Universities


There were decreases in the number of college respondents with plans for every type of construction. Those with construction plans were most likely to be planning renovations to their existing facilities. Some 40.3% said they had plans for renovations (down from 46.7% in 2019). Another 17.7% were planning additions, and 16.9% had plans to build new facilities. (See Figure 49.)

The amount that college respondents said they would be spending on their construction plans was up 19.3% in 2020, though the budget for 2019 was down significantly from the previous year. College respondents in 2020 were planning to spend $9,020,000 on their construction, compared with $7,560,000 in 2019, and $9,500,000 in 2018. As is generally the case, college respondents have the highest construction budgets, planning to spend 60.2% more than the average for all respondents.

There was little change in the past year in the features most commonly found among college respondents' facilities. The 10 features that are most common among colleges and universities include: fitness centers; locker rooms; indoor sports courts for sports like basketball and volleyball; exercise studio rooms; classrooms and meeting rooms; bleachers and seating; outdoor sports courts for sports like tennis and basketball; indoor walking and running tracks; Wi-Fi services; and natural turf sports fields.

College respondents were somewhat less likely than others to report that they had plans to add features at their facilities over the next three years. While 44.5% of non-college respondents said they had such plans, just 32.3% of college respondents said they would be adding features, down from 33.3% in 2019 and 36.5% in 2018.

The most commonly planned additions for college respondents in 2020 include:

  1. Synthetic turf sports fields (planned by 30% of college respondents with plans to add any features)
  2. Outdoor sports courts (17.5%)
  3. Bleachers and seating (17.5%)
  4. Natural turf sports fields (17.5%)
  5. Exercise studio rooms (17.5%)
  6. Indoor running and walking tracks (17.5%)
  7. Fitness trails and outdoor fitness equipment (15%)
  8. Locker rooms (15%)
  9. Indoor sports courts (15%)
  10. Climbing walls (12.5%)

Synthetic turf sports fields continue to hold the top position among planned features, with an increase in the number of college respondents who plan to add them, from 26% in 2019. There was also an increase in the percentage of college respondents who said they were planning to add outdoor sports courts, bleachers and seating, natural turf fields, exercise studio rooms, indoor tracks and locker rooms. Indoor sports courts and climbing walls were not among the top 10 planned additions in 2019. They replace fitness centers and outdoor aquatic facilities.