Campus Working Spaces
Campus Working Spaces Refinement and Implementation Committee (RIC) 8
Krystyn Van Vliet (Chair), Allison Parisi, Brent Ryan, Caroline Jones, Greg Raposa, Jon Alvarez, Julie Newman, Marty Culpepper, and Frances Neville (Staff)
The Campus Working Spaces RIC proposes the convening of four working groups that will report to the Provost, Executive Vice President, and the Planning Subcommittee of the Committee for Renovation and Space Planning (P-CRSP). Working group 1 will investigate ways to increase access to meeting spaces on campus, while working group 2 will explore the role of flex spaces in supporting the on-campus workspace needs of MIT employees with hybrid work schedules. A third working group will focus on shared research space for PI-led research, and a fourth working group will examine the future expansion of MIT lab space from the perspective of minimizing energy use intensity.
Campus space is a shared resource that enables much of the daily work of the Institute. The pandemic disruption, and anticipation of new locations and schedules of working at MIT, provide both challenges and opportunities to think about how MIT faculty, staff, and students will use and steward these buildings and outdoor spaces. This RIC was charged to consider ideas and implementation related to the impact of changing technology and work practices on space at the Institute which were developed by the Task Force. RIC 8 recognizes that “use of space” is a broad term at universities including MIT, and that our spaces in Cambridge, MA, and other key MIT-managed sites are used variously for classes, research, experiential learning and independent projects, meetings, events, and serendipitous gatherings. This space is finite, resource-intensive to renew and maintain, associated with identity of work scope and value, and one key part of working successfully at any organization including MIT. The problems addressed by this RIC focus on when and how to change our practices of sharing this indoor and outdoor space in ways that advance the decentralized and centralized aims of the Institute. Recommendations of this RIC are coupled to the discussions of RIC 9 (on flexible work practices, primarily but not only affecting MIT faculty and staff employees) and RIC 6 (on informal meeting spaces, primarily but not only used by students). This coupling reflects the expectation that changes in work practices to be enabled by changes in space practices, as well as the opportunity to adopt changes that align with shared values for sustainable operations of our campus and by our full MIT community.
Responsible for Implementation
The Offices of the Provost and Executive Vice President & Treasurer (EVPT) will be responsible for the implementation for RIC 8, via the following groups that comprise the planning focus of the Committee for Renovation and Space Planning, or P-CRSP:
- Krystyn Van Vliet, CRSP Co-Chair and Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Research
- Joe Higgins, CRSP Co-Chair and Vice President for Campus Services and Stewardship
- Jon Alvarez, Director of Campus Planning; Office of Campus Planning staffs P-CRSP working groups
- All MIT departments, labs, and centers (DLCs) and offices are beneficiaries and affected: spaces are assigned historically to DLCs that use them and/or expend resources to renew and maintain them for research, education, or administration of services.
- Research community and student community as part of the workforce, including research and technical staff, postdoctoral researchers, graduate research assistants, and undergraduate research opportunity program participants; and
- Administrative support community, including administrative and staff support teams that report through the Provost and VPR as well as through the EVPT; these individuals are often responsible for scheduling, managing, and budgeting related to use and stewardship of the space by their teams and/or by academic, research, and student life teams.
Implementation Plan and Timeline
Four P-CRSP working groups will be charged and staffed to provide analysis and recommendations over two academic years, from September 2021 through December 2022. This includes implementing associated pilots, if any. Updates on working group outcomes and associated senior leadership decisions and broader communications will be provided to senior leadership in July 2022 and 2023.
The scope of these four working groups, each addressing a distinct and prioritized challenge that requires multistakeholder input for implementation, is noted below. The report Appendix includes the charges and draft rosters of each working group, and describes the intersections among RICs 8, 9, and 16 that will benefit from continued communication and implementation alignment. The Appendix also summarizes the values of community and resource stewardship that developed during prior Task Force 2021 working group efforts and P-CRSP working groups that should inform current P-CRSP working group efforts and communications.
P-CRSP Working Group 1: Increasing meeting spaces on campus—how to share and reserve
As the MIT community returns to campus, it is likely to see renewed—and perhaps increased—demand for meeting spaces. Today, many meeting and event spaces at MIT are perceived as “owned,” scheduled, and maintained by a single DLC. Awareness of a given meeting space, and the ability to reserve it, is typically limited to members of that DLC. In consequence, many meeting spaces may be under- or over-utilized; those looking to reserve meeting spaces may be limited; and members of the MIT community looking to collaborate with those beyond their DLC may find it challenging to meet in “mutually inconvenient” locations. This P-CRSP working group will explore how MIT might make more efficient use of existing meeting spaces by investigating current inventory of meeting spaces; space types or campus regions where the inventory of meeting spaces appears to fall short; meeting space reservation system attributes that would best serve the MIT community; and policies would make sharing meeting spaces sustainable over time.
Fall 2021 for data gathering; spring 2022 for policy formulating and report writing. There is possibility of synergy with RIC 16 community space research and survey efforts proposed for 2021–22 academic year, so investigating this possibility will be worthwhile.
- Execute pilot using the Spaces app developed on Atlas in academic year 2020-21 to test sharing of meeting or event spaces that are assigned currently to different groups.
- Examine synergies with the RIC 16 community space research and survey efforts
P-CRSP Working Group 2: Flex space for hybrid work schedules in Cambridge
As more members of the MIT community return to campus this fall, a great many will be operating on hybrid work schedules, and may not require a dedicated, traditional on-campus workspace five days of the week. This P-CRSP working group will explore the role of flex spaces in supporting the on-campus workspace needs of MIT employees (faculty and staff roles), including the identifying campus populations that would be well served by flex spaces; current understanding about how in-person workspace needs / work activities have evolved; qualities that do or could make flex spaces great on-campus places to get work done; and policies to make flex spaces a sustainable and cost-effective strategy for meeting certain on-campus workspace needs.
Fall 2021 for info gathering and observation of pilots; spring 2022 for analysis and recommendations.
- Identify groups in fall 2021 to observe the design, use and policies of flex spaces
- Examine synergies with the RIC 16 community space research and survey efforts
- Pilot studies, scoped and/or evaluated by the P-CRSP Working Group with RIC 9 input
P-CRSP Working Group 3: Shared research space for PI-led research
At MIT, space for principal investigator (PI)-led research is often assigned to the PI and specialized for the type of research that the PI plans to lead. The term “PI” can include faculty and research staff who lead sponsored research that uses laboratory facilities, but here is intended to also reflect any faculty-led scholarly research that is lab-based or office-based at MIT as an individual or with a group of supervisees. The finite volume and distributed locations of such spaces on campus creates several operational and cost inefficiencies for the PI and the Institute, and can also be in conflict with shared values of both sustainability and broad latitude for academic inquiry. This working group is charged with understanding cost/benefit/drivers for space sharing, considering examples and determining best practices of how campus spaces for PI-led research could improve flexible responses to changes in research program needs and research group sizes, while also consistent with resource stewardship (both financial and material). This P-CRSP working group will address issues regarding the understanding needs/drivers for sharing, policy/culture, finances, and sustainability. The work may include recommendations for early experiments and/or instructive pilot programs, and will be cognizant of disparate benefits or challenges for untenured faculty and non-tenure-track PIs.
The group’s work would ideally commence and end in spring 2022, though the complexities of some issues may require the extension of work into fall 2022.
P-CRSP Working Group 4: Repurposing our campus footprint with the advent of increased lab space
MIT is now committed to achieving net zero campus emissions by 2026 and eliminating direct emissions by 2050. MIT is now poised to address issues of growth, energy production, energy use and a transition to a new energy era looking forward. This P-CRSP working group will take on the discussion of growth and expansion of mission in a manner that rethinks space allocation. Members will re-envision how space is used, repurposed, shared, allocated in a manner that enables MIT to grow in mission while reducing our rate of growth in square footage and energy use intensity. Areas to be explore include: the balance and use of leased space in Cambridge (02139) and MIT-owned and -managed space off campus (outside Cambridge); current space and lab use; future types and growth trends of research program types at MIT.
This working group will require spring 2022/fall 2022 semester engagement due to the complexity of understanding the growth trajectory of MIT and how that aligns with mission expansion.
Implementation Timeline for RIC 8
Aug 2021–Dec 2022: Standup, implementation, and follow-up for four P-CRSP working groups