Higher Education Design

Designing for the Future

Higher education facilities and campuses are the lifeblood of the future. While each project may have unique needs and objectives, ultimately, the environments in which students learn must support the success of the individuals in their lives; contribute to the health of the surrounding communities; meet industry and workforce needs; and allow for adaptability to respond to changing needs and growth.

Experience from Across the Gamut of Learning Environments

From the design of new facilities and the modernization of older buildings on established university campuses, to the development of career and technical education facilities and community college master plans, our team has delivered more than 85 higher education projects for a diverse range of clients across the United States.

Additionally, we design many of the workplaces in which students will inhabit once they graduate. We bring the best of all these worlds to inform learning spaces where students have as many opportunities for hands-on learning and experimentation as possible. Our goals with education design are focused on helping students be prepared for the real-world workforce with learning environments that help create well-rounded individuals by fostering collaboration and team work as well as independent study and research.

Our Process



We dig deep into factors that contribute to student health, well-being, and safety; learn about your locality, culture, and needs; and identify the things that make your project unique.


We bring our clients to the table as we design, share, listen, and revise until the space planning, systems selections, material selections, and fixture planning are just right.



We live for the sense of accomplishment we share with our clients, their staff, and their students when it all comes together. You step inside, and your vision becomes reality!


The work doesn’t end when the doors open for learning. Through post occupancy evaluations, we review your space and user experience as they evolve with time and use.

Bringing You the Best in…


Campus Master Planning

At Cushing Terrell, our design and planning philosophy looks to the uniqueness of each institution and community to help us shape their master plan. This includes factors such as culture, curriculum, values, existing structures, local needs, and long-term goals. We work to develop a master plan that aligns with and guides your vision for the future. We’ll work to fully understand your vision, contribute our best ideas and analyses, and offer recommendations to help secure funding for your project.

Looking at the big picture can be daunting, but our master planning process is proven to be energizing, engaging, informative, and effective. We’ve worked with clients to successfully complete more than 85 educational, municipal, and regional visioning master plans, comprehensive plans, special district plans, and community outreach programs throughout the United States, and we bring this knowledge and experience to every new project we undertake.

Cushing Terrell is a extraordinary firm with capabilities to achieve and carry-out the entire design process from visioning and conceptual renderings to detailed construction documents and cost-estimating.

Director of Campus Planning, Design, and Construction
Montana State University


Career Technical Education

Experiential learning environments where students learn in-demand skilled trades help set them up for success. Evidence shows that career technical education (CTE) programs have a positive impact on academic outcomes such as attendance, credits earned, grade point averages, graduation rates, increased career earnings, and postsecondary opportunities. To support a hands-on approach where students learn by doing, secondary and post-secondary educational environments are getting a revamp. Our team approaches the design of these facilities from a research perspective, collaborating with local business, industry, and community partners to ensure relevancy with a priority on future flexibility to accommodate growth, new technologies, career proficiencies, and workforce drivers.


Health Sciences

Cushing Terrell’s university planning, programming, and design experience ranges from professional schools of nursing, medicine, and allied health sciences to advanced academic facilities, nursing simulation labs, and teaching and research laboratories. Our healthcare design specialists understand what drives effective and efficient patient service and partner with our education design team to ensure health science facilities are institution-specific and driven by curriculum, mission and values, faculty preferences, and student learning styles. They include technology-enhanced spaces for experiential learning and support spaces that promote the social and collaborative aspects of learning in health sciences degrees.


Preservation/Adaptive Reuse

We understand the most sustainable buildings are those already built and offer historic preservation and adaptive reuse services to help education clients transform and modernize older buildings to meet current needs. Our in-depth expertise covers materials and systems, building behavior and pathologies, historic materials and their uses and resiliency, and how weather and other outside factors impact both structural integrity and character-defining features. This knowledge provides our team with a substantial background for constructing and implementing preservation plans. We offer full architectural services for all phases of architectural and engineering projects including preservation, restoration, rehabilitation, adaptive reuse, reconstruction, and sensitive new contextual design.

Sustainable, Energy-Efficient Design

Efficient, reliable, sustainable, cost-effective. When it comes to making decisions regarding the energy systems in the buildings we design, these four factors are the driving force behind our energy services team. With in-depth knowledge and a passion for what they do, the team works with clients to analyze energy-use scenarios and develop strategies to reduce consumption and costs while increasing the reliability and efficiency of building energy systems. From assessing single buildings to comprehensive campus energy plans and developing energy districts, our team will ensure your projects are not only forward-thinking in terms of the curriculum you offer but are leading the way in terms of energy efficiency and emissions reductions.

Ready to get started?
Reach out to our team.

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