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Programming is a serious endeavor that establishes the foundation for any future reorganization or renovation within a higher education institution. Chiang | O’Brien Architects is adept at leading discussions and providing structure and guidance to move constituents toward consensus—our process is both collaborative and inclusive. Immersion into campus culture, meetings with the leadership and campus stakeholders, and generally spending time on campus creates the underlying foundation and road map for effective planning. We listen carefully and translate qualitative and quantitative needs into spatial requirements and a functional space program. Our team understands that, because a campus is always evolving, it is imperative to understand the current goals, vision, and mission of a project alongside the broader campus context. Chiang | O’Brien has a reputation for effectively developing visionary programs and comprehensive planning while navigating the complexity of campus politics.


Colleges and universities across the country, many established more than a century ago, have structures that are replete with historic, cultural, social, and functional significance that form the backbone of their campuses. A desire to capitalize on these resources, both magnificent and modest, has created projects that require sensitive solutions to renew, refresh, and re-imagine the way some of these buildings serve current needs. The constantly evolving dynamics at institutions of higher education mandate that these projects also anticipate future needs and accommodate change to achieve longevity. Sometimes an existing structure is simply not able to meet the demands and requirements of a desired program and a more feasible option is often an addition and renovation. This strategy creates supplementary space while allowing the existing, still relevant, and viable structure to contribute to the campus environment.


The opportunity to create a new structure on a college campus is a complex task. The higher education campus is a microcosm of a city with housing, dining, libraries, museums, gathering spaces, venues for events, performance space, retail space, classrooms, offices, teaching and research laboratories, and even health care facilities. The first step in thinking about a new structure often involves issues far beyond the immediate program and needs of the building itself. Context and adjacencies, creation of hardscape and landscape spaces integrated into the environs, and fitting the newly imagined structure into a larger campus vision are always important factors. Whether the site is predetermined, or site selection is the first step, we believe the contextual vernacular and developing a solution compatible with the context is of utmost importance.

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