Some more thoughts on master-planning. Before you groan and roll your eyes, hear me out. There is probably more suspicion about architects trying sell master-planning services than anything else we do. In a tough economy, where dollars are tight and organizations struggle to keep overhead and administrative costs low, long-range planning (we prefer this moniker to “master-planning” ) may not seem like a priority.
Long-range campus and facility planning have value both as a near-term management tool and as a longer term strategic tool. We are finding that the ambivalence many executive directors, vice-presidents and board members feel about long-range planning comes from not understanding the distinction between these roles.
We believe that managing growth is a near-term function — five year out, max. The planning horizon for most schools, clinics, churches is only a couple of years in the future. Demands for services, demographic and economic trends, regulatory impacts become very speculative beyond 3 to 5 years. Therefore, a 5-year plan can and should be responsive to known, quantifiable circumstances and thus serve as tool for managing your campus and facility in that time frame. This is also why long range planning needs to be updated at least every five years.
Beyond five years, organizational decisions have to be guided by a strategic vision. This means a board, a president, a pastor has to say, “This where I/we believe we are called to go”. A long-term campus or facility plan can serve as a vital tool to communicate, further and inform that vision. Critical point: if you and/or your organization can’t articulate a strategic vision then we as architects shouldn’t try to do a master plan for you. If you are ambivalent about where you see your college, church or non-profit is going, then we as architects are tempted to substitute our vision for your lack of one. That isn’t healthy for us or you.
Organizations need both good management and strategic vision. The key to getting maximum value from the money you pay for master-planning services is understanding the difference. Blue Ridge Architects can help you plan facilities and campuses in a manner that is both practical and compelling.