Building the best academic facilities is not enough to foster a well-rounded educational experience. Comfortable and lively public spaces provide informal places on and near campuses that can bring students, faculty, staff, visitors, and the community together.
It all started with the chairs. By simply placing some movable furniture in Harvard Yard in 2009, the University took the first steps in what would eventually become a long-term activation of its outdoor campus space. With just this small, temporary act of Placemaking, the change was dramatic and immediate.
Instead of hiring big-name architects to design flashy new campus buildings in an attempt to attract students, universities should be spending their time and money on improving the quality and connectivity of their public spaces.