Understanding the impact of mental health and wellness, colleges and universities are implementing new strategies to better serve their students, faculty, and staff. Well-being is multifaceted and can have many different influences depending on the needs of the individual and community served. It is having effective means to deal with stress, it is feeling accepted on campus, it is inextricably tied to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. Most importantly, it is recognizing the importance of belonging.
This is a big topic and eschews simple answers, but it begins with institutions and partners recognizing the importance of the discussion, and continues with implementation in the physical world. There’s no universal solution, so designers must resist preconceived notions and actively pursue holistic designs that reflect the unique needs of the project and shared values of the team and community at every scale.
Arizona State University has a broad mission of inclusion as part of student success. As evidenced by its charter: “ASU is a comprehensive public research university, measured not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes and how they succeed; advancing research and discovery of public value; and assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves.” Inclusivity is a vital piece of their mission. At the heart of campus, the university seeks to ensure that there is a place for everyone and that all are supported. A goal of Ayers Saint Gross, in all our work, is to translate mission into the built environment. The Hayden Library Reinvention presented an incredible opportunity to tie all these elements together.