As students settle into the swing of school, on many campuses the sounds of silence are broken up with the sounds of bulldozers, cranes, jackhammers, and construction crews. Schools across the country, from elementary through to universities, are investing big in improving their infrastructures and expanding their campuses.
According to the ‘2015 Annual State of the Educational Marketplace’ report, more than $14 billion was spent on K-12 school construction in 2014 – a 5% increase from 2013 and the 4th straight year that school construction has risen. Over half of that $14 billion went into new construction, a good sign for the economy as populations grow, and the rest went into refurbishing and remodeling existing buildings.
As K-12 construction expands to accommodate growing student bodies, colleges and universities are building more elaborate facilities to attract more students. The rise in athletic stadiums, high-tech labs, and science research facilities brings construction spending into the billions. The University of Michigan is undergoing campus wide construction with over 50 projects going on simultaneously this fall. Thirty of the 50 projects carry a price tag of at least $2 billion. The $16 billion budget includes roof repairs, the construction of a $261 million, state-of-the-art, 300,000-square-foot biological sciences building, major additions to Ross School of Business campus and the Ross Athletics Complex. Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross donated a large sum to improve facilities that bear his name.
At Notre Dame, the $400 million Campus Crossroads project is taking shape with the steel framework for the two 9-story buildings erected around the football stadium. The buildings will house a new press box and luxury seating but also academic resources such as classrooms, offices, and laboratories for the anthropology and psychology departments, and be the new home of the music department. University of Maryland received a $31 million donation to build a new computer science innovation center to become a hub for innovative technologies.
Many universities are also spending parts of their construction budgets to upgrade and renovate undergraduate dorms. As colleges look to accept more students, the need for housing is increasing. Off-campus housing in the form of large apartment complexes is on the rise. Adding luxury living to the mix of student housing is a big draw for students and a very welcome addition for upperclassmen looking to move off campus, but not too far off. Although there are concerns about off-campus housing being isolating, there is no evidence that the apartment-type student housing causes any negative effects on students or their grades.
Schools and universities understand the value in upgrading facilities and expanding to meet the needs of the students. As this trend continues to increase, undeniably the construction industry benefits, but it can also be argued that the benefits are good for communities all over the country. Lasting regional economic growth and pleasing aesthetics of new construction should make the temporary cacophony of construction a little easier on the ears. For further information on the construction industry visit our Twitter account, LinkedIn page, or visit our website.