Making Space to Form the Next Generation in Higher Education
View the Benet Academy Transformation
Modularity: Assembling a Customized Life
The Power of Nature and Respite
Finally, another trend that surfaced in our Making Space for Millennials research was the need for clarity. Millennials want to know, What’s expected of me here? What can I expect? What is the story of the people here? Related to modularity and an increase in anxiety, younger generations want to understand their options and how to engage.
On the most practical level, we help churches create clear signage in their buildings. Where are the restrooms? Where do I take my kids? Where do I go to worship? In a time when people are highly skeptical of institutions, these simple design details help people make the first steps to build a relationship with a church or school, giving them the ability to operate and engage comfortably by knowing what to do.
On a more abstract level, we guide churches to consider their building as an opportunity to tell their story—to reflect the priorities, practices, and people who are integral to their culture. The financial priorities of a building project should line up with the overarching mission and vision. The focal points and details should all reinforce, this is who we are and what we care about.
Gen Z has the same distrust of authority. They have never known a world without highly publicized scandals in the church, government, and even higher education. The opportunity with this generation, however, is not only to create clarity, but to help them learn to deal with ambiguity.
When crossing a threshold feels like picking sides, there is a great benefit to blurred lines! Creating space for intergenerational relationships, connection between the campus and surrounding neighborhoods, even between digital and physical connections, is a great opportunity to invite someone who may be skeptical to take a first step into something unfamiliar.
When you think about your campus “building language” – what sticks out? What does a first-time visitor learn about what you value? What does it reflect about your process of discipleship?
Space is never neutral. Whether you’re building classrooms, dorm rooms, or sanctuaries, your facilities are either helping or hindering your mission. Architecture can help shape habits, routines, and rhythms in people’s lives—a goal that is as critical for Christian higher education as for churches.
About Derek DeGroot
Derek DeGroot is Vice President of Design and Integrated Services for Aspen Group. After graduating from University of Illinois-Chicago’s architecture program, Derek began his career in residential design. At the same time, his church was embarking on a building project. Derek quickly realized that churches needed to find a better way to build. Soon after, he discovered and joined Aspen Group in 2007.