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Paving a Way for the Future

At the heart of WTW’s planning and programming process is an effort to hear as many stakeholder voices as possible. Listening carefully is the first and most important step to developing a plan that will stand the test of time for your community, your campus, and your building. Every community is a unique collection of spaces that should express the culture of its people, and a successful community provides comfortable areas of belonging that work for every inhabitant.

Input is gathered in a variety of venues. Depending on the community structure and strategies for talking to stakeholders, the WTW process often includes a mixture of open forums, personal interviews, focus group meetings, and intercept interviews. The important piece of any planning process is to be transparent to the community that the process is taking place and to provide a variety of methods for interested users to engage with the process. 

On campuses the WTW team will work collaboratively with campus leaders to gather input from a diverse cross section of the community. Diversity is about inviting stakeholders that represent a wide range of identities, majors, interests, and ages. Inclusion is about actively listening to those voices with an open mind to incorporate needs and understand experiences that are different than our own.

The planning and programming process also involves the gathering of a lot of data – including room utilization, historical research, demographic information, heat maps, surveys, benchmarking, and electronic polling. The analysis of this data combined with stakeholder input is brought together by our planners to develop solutions that are thoughtful, realistic, and sustainable.

Feasibility Studies

WTW has performed feasibility studies for projects in every market that we serve. This initial exploration of the project possibilities and potential budget is a valuable tool to aid clients in understanding the scope of the undertaking before committing to a basic services fee for design and construction. Studies can be as short as two months or as long as a year, depending on the size of the project and the number of stakeholders to consult.

A study typically includes input from building users, maintenance and/or facilities staff, senior leadership, and often individuals served by the building, such as students, clients, or patients of the owner. The goal of feasibility is to assign a realistic budget to the proposed scope or to adjust the scope of the project in a realistic way to meet the owner’s available funding.

Studies include accessibility and life safety assessments, reviewing the remaining usable lifespan of existing MEP systems, site amenities & impacts on the building, cost impacts of demolition, phasing of work, and swing space needed for phased projects.

Space Planning

Space planning is the exploration of alternate ways to layout the desired program in the available space. In its simplest form, the WTW team can explore options for furniture implementation in office, lounge, and assembly spaces. For flexible rooms with multiple layouts, this means ensuring that there is sufficient storage space for extra tables and chairs when they are not in use.

At the more complex end of the spectrum, this is the work we do to plan out all of the individual rooms to be located throughout a building project during design. Taking the program developed with stakeholder input and turning it into a functional and appealing building. We take a holistic view of the design process – integrating planning, interior design, and architecture. The resulting building plans must support and enhance the function of our client’s space, as well as promoting social connection, productivity, wellness, and learning.


A programming project can be part of a feasibility study, the first phase of a building design, a verification phase of a building renovation, or a stand-alone service to assist in the visioning for a future project. A program document is a detailed list of every space or room, including estimated size, capacity, adjacency, function, and unique considerations.

For an existing building, a program often compares the existing spaces to the future desired spaces, and explores whether those elements should be larger or smaller in the future. For a new building, the initiation of the programming phase often results in a “wish list” program that has more components than will fit in the proposed project. The subsequent work with the WTW team is about prioritizing and right-sizing the program to be compatible with the project budget.

Master Planning

Master Planning takes all of the planning skills of the WTW team and applies it to a whole college campus. The open forums and focus groups and interviews are all done at the largest possible scale to understand the experience of all campus users, students, staff, and faculty, as well as reaching out to nearby community members and school alumni. The output of a master plan will identify opportunities related to pedestrian & bicycle circulation, vehicular movement, landscaping, utilities, new construction, and building renovation. Campus is reviewed at a high level to see system opportunities, user movement, and challenges to growth.

Like all of the higher education work produced by WTW, the outcome and areas explored is tailored to the unique culture, facilities, and circumstances the campus being studied.

Institutional Master Plans

Institutional Master Plans are a step above campus Master Plans, involving the city, zoning, and future planning for the campus for the years to come. WTW's experience from planning to implementation creates a complete understanding of the needs, obstacles, and opportunities facing today’s higher education institutions. An Institutional Master Plan should be more than a document that identifies building strategies, maximizes resource utilization, and creates a safe and fulfilling educational environment. An Institutional Master Plan must build excitement around a Vision for the future of an institution.

Any qualified architect and planning firm can create an institutional master plan. At WTW, we go beyond that to articulate a dynamic vision for an institution. This Vision will provide an inspiration for the University and the surrounding community.

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For more information about our services or to take the next step towards designing your project, please contact us!