Background

Louisiana State University (LSU) is counted among the nation’s elite universities, holding a special place as a triple-designated land-, sea- and space-grant institution. LSU embarked on the mission to create its Master Plan in 2016 with the goal of laying out physical development plans for the campus over the following decade and beyond.

LSU worked with Sightlines, a Gordian company, to identify strategic priorities based on a detailed assessment of existing facilities and projected campus growth in alignment with future academic needs. Analyzing the quality of existing academic and research facilities to support university goals was a key component of determining current and future need. Administrative and campus support requirements were also considered to ensure a comprehensive growth strategy.

This framework provided a practical and flexible blueprint to advance the university’s goals through facility renovations, demolitions and repurposing. The Master Plan, crafted with Sightlines’ analysis and input, also served as a guide for any future planning, development and investment efforts.

Analysis

LSU’s Facilities Assessment and Planning analysis started with a collection and review of previously completed asset assessments and inventories. Sightlines conducted a campus walkthrough of each building included in the scope of analysis, totaling 7.4M gross square feet (GSF), then validated all collected information on systems, condition and the pricing of needs through a set of on-campus supervisor interviews.

Upon compiling this information into a working project list, a series of “gut-check” meetings with key university staff took place to identify any gaps or inconsistencies. After data sign-off by both LSU and Sightlines, a preliminary segmentation of assets into building portfolios was initiated to aid in critical divestment decisions. Taking the FCA a step further, a second building portfolio strategy was developed to segment the backlog of needs by “Buildings to Keep,” “Buildings to Demolish,” “Buildings Off Campus,” “Utility Infrastructure” and “Grounds.”

Final decisions were made to determine which buildings would be slotted for demolition and renovation within the newly developed, proposed Strategic Capital Plan (SCP). Utilizing the portfolios in place and an understanding of historical spending profiles, Sightlines worked with LSU Facilities Administration to develop projection models illustrating the impact of the proposed SCP versus continuing with the status quo. This multi-year capital plan, based on mission-driven outcomes, was proposed to and accepted by University leadership.

Results

The Sightlines’ facility assessment found $893.6M of identified need across campus divided by buildings, infrastructure and grounds. A significant portion fell under items currently in backlog and in the one-to-three-year timeframe. On average, Sightlines finds that 51 percent of overall need falls into this one-to-three-year timeframe for campuses. However, LSU saw 73 percent of their needs demanding immediate attention or coming due in the next three years.

Out of the $588.2M (73 percent) of identified needs demanding immediate attention over the next three years, $83.4M would be addressed by proposed demolitions, $176.6M would be addressed by renovations and $120.0M by infrastructure investment. Taking into account additional identified need shifting into the ‘three-year window,’ this would reduce the identified need requiring immediate attention to $398.5M. Overall, this meant a great reduction in risk for the University moving forward.

Thanks to Sightlines’ Facilities Assessment and Planning analysis, LSU was armed with the data needed to develop a comprehensive and actionable capital plan that strategically guides facilities investment decisions and supports their strategic vision through 2031. Tony Lombardo, Associate Vice President for Facilities and Property Oversight, notes “The Assessment & Planning data allows us to make the right decisions, on the right projects, at the right time to get the best student impact.”