Higher Education Design

Higher education design requires a diverse set of skills

Clients Say

PRA’s engagement of stakeholders in the design process is outstanding. We are introduced to new concepts and challenged to think outside the box particularly in relation to the customer experience. As the design progresses, stakeholders participate in a simulated walk-thru of the space. This experience has allowed us to identify issues and make changes in the design phase saving untold time and dollars.

Renea Ranguette,
Vice President, Finance & College Operations
Blackhawk Technical College

We believe access to post-secondary education is the key to addressing the critical shortage of knowledge-based workers and providing the best chance for personal success in our increasingly service-oriented society.  Unlike K-12 education, our clients seeking expertise in higher education design are often competing for students with many alternative choices.  Providing learning spaces that engage and support educators and students is fundamental, but so are the intangibles that attract students to one institution over another.  As architects, planners, and designers with decades of experience working with learning organizations of all sizes, backgrounds, and affiliations, we are in a unique position to contribute to the success of post-secondary institutions and share our knowledge to advance the ultimate goal of improving the lives of individuals and communities through education.

Our approach is immersive, closely integrating our design team with your Board members, administrators, staff, instructors, and students to first review your mission, vision, and values and identify measurable goals for your project.  Together we will review curriculum plans, enrollment projections, relevant studies, standards, and any previous or future plans before leading reviews of your buildings and working to determine challenges and opportunities, facilitate ideation, create possible solutions, and lead consensus-building and decision-making efforts at all stages.  These evidence-based, time-tested techniques have yielded success for state, local, and privately funded institutions.

Immersion is the key to understanding

To further capture the complexities and opportunities inherent in a project, we have developed a Design Toolbox comprised of innovative techniques rooted in learning such as day-in-the-life shadowing, road tours, lessons learned, visioning sessions, photo journaling, puzzle play, and community workshops.  Only after examining the institution from every angle do we join our architectural and interior design experience with the experience of our specially chosen consultants to begin creating the three-dimensional form.  At each meeting, another layer of detail is added, revealing new aspects of the concept with state-of-the-art visualization tools, rapid prototyping, and material samples helping to convey exactly what we are creating.

The design of post-secondary facilities requires dedicated collaborators. Whether you’re building a new building, anticipating the renovation of an existing facility, or even if you are looking for a team to help you with ongoing term contract projects, we can help.  But we can also apply our experience to numerous other needs you may have, such as facility assessments, master planning, wayfinding, accessibility and inclusion initiatives, environmental graphics, branding, furniture and accessories, and sustainability consulting.


Our Higher Education Design Studio is led by Steve Kieckhafer (Madison), John Holz (Sarasota), and Scott Justus (Milwaukee), leaders with over 90 years of combined success with post-secondary clients.   Each brings an unbridled interest and support of the mission of higher education and the design of higher education spaces, supported by a diverse and growing team of dedicated educational planners, architects, and interior designers. 

We invite you to follow the links on this page to learn more about our experience helping transform learning environments nationwide, or better yet, contact Scott, John, or Steve to learn more about what PRA can do for you!