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In October 2021, Wake Forest University initiated the Space Utilization Study to understand current and future space needs on the Reynolda Campus as well as the capacity of peripheral campus properties to meet future needs. The University partnered with SmithGroup, a national planning and design firm, for the study.

The Space Utilization Study had four primary goals:

  1. Address the need for additional instructional space, academic offices, community, and support service space on the Reynolda Campus.
  2. Identify potential academic and/or administrative uses of University-owned commercial properties located in close proximity to the campus.
  1. Assess recently acquired real estate adjacent to the campus for potential academic, administrative, student organization, and recreation uses.
  2. Assess the future need of space currently under lease to the University for various academic programs.


SmithGroup used facilities, course scheduling, staffing, and enrollment data to complete the analysis. In addition to these key data sets, other information was collected related to research, scholarly, and creative activity, library collections, and study space. The compilation of the data provided a snapshot of activities for Fall 2021, which was used as the baseline for the analysis. This data collection represented one important set of inputs for informing the development of the University’s space needs.

SmithGroup engaged with academic, administrative, and student life leadership through a series of listening sessions and open forums. Discussions focused on current and future academic program opportunities, immediate needs, and the lessons learned from the pandemic and its long-term implications to institutional operations. The following common threads emerged:

  1. Students, faculty, and staff were given the opportunity to participate in a survey

ASF = Assignable Square Feet

to understand their perceptions of and experiences with Reynolda Campus spaces (2000+ respondents). The survey reinforced the analytical outcomes of instructional space use being concentrated in the core of campus while highlighting preferred attributes, which can inform future upfits. Likewise, the survey confirmed the importance and use of outdoor spaces near Wait Chapel and Hearn Plaza. For example, the outdoor tents used primarily during the pandemic were very popular with students. The survey unearthed other nuances such as the fact that some faculty have not had opportunities to teach in some of the more modern classrooms on campus. This finding, aligned with a more centralized instructional space scheduling practice, identified the need to provide access to more faculty.

Quantitative needs were aligned with existing campus space and requirements for additional space were identified. The study took into consideration the space the University has currently and how it is being used while addressing projected enrollment scenarios, increased instructional space utilization expectations, and sensitivities to modified workplace arrangements for some administrative staff.

Existing Space Allocation

CategoryAssignable Square FeetPercent of Total ASF
Academic Offices251,85421
Administrative Offices171,46914
Student-Centered Space122,74310
Assembly & Exhibit92,4418
Library Space89,9577
Research & Scholarly Inquiry Space59,6585
Teaching Labs42,1463
School of Law Library34,5103
Physical Plant32,5313
Misc. Space28,2882
Open Lab18,3182
Meeting Space16,9561
Collab. Learning Space15,4981
Healthcare Space5,4670

Findings Summary

A space optimization model was developed using Fall 2021 to guide recommendations.

Overall, existing Reynolda Campus square footage, when optimized, supports
current enrollment and growth scenarios. However, the surpluses identified in some cases are not easily repurposed to meet current or future needs.

Additionally, quality and configuration of space should be considerations in space optimization. Right-sizing existing space will be necessary to satisfy perceived and real space deficiencies.

Space CategoryProjected Existing ASFGuideline ASFSurplus / (Deficit)
Teaching Laboratories42,14634,7887,358
Open Laboratories18,31822,208(3,890)
Research & Scholarly Inquiry Space59,65886,640(26,982)
Academic Space Subtotal262,235241,36420,871
Academic Offices251,854224,94026,914
Administrative Offices213,376148,62064,756
Library Space89,957121,178(31,222)
Collaborative Learning Space18,74025,309(6,569)
School of Law Library34,51034,5100
Meeting Space16,95619,814(2,858)
Academic Support Space Subtotal625,393574,37151,022
Student-Centered Space123,199111,04112,157
Healthcare Space5,5843,8491,736
Student Space Subtotal221,810223,641(1,831)
Assembly & Exhibit92,44179,27113,170
Physical Plant32,53167,523(34,992)
Miscellaneous Space27,28829,611(2,323)
Other Space Subtotal152,260176,405(24,145)
CAMPUS TOTAL1,262,6981,215,78145,917
Residence Life821,160
Unassigned Space6,276
Outside Organizations496,952


The analysis indicated the Manchester Plaza academic precinct was crowded and lacked faculty office space, dining facilities, and study space. Long-term space strategy includes defining the highest and best use of the three University-owned properties adjacent to the Reynolda Campus to help alleviate space deficits at the campus core.

The following recommendations were made to optimize existing space and provide a process for future decision-making:

Space Management

With oversight from the University Space Planning Group (USPG), the space management program will provide a framework in which opportunities and needs are integrated with other institutional planning efforts. The space management program will: