Cost per Square Foot of College Building Types by Region

by Dean Dalvit on May 10, 2010

We do quite a bit of work on College campuses and other educational facilities, and it is crucial to understand the construction costs for each of these types of buildings. To answer the ever present question, ”How much does it cost to build this project”, the focus of this post is specifically looking at College Classrooms, Dormatories, Student Union Buildings and Laboratories. Below are the results of data that has been collected for a range of these projects across the country by the industry leader in construction cost estimating, RSMeans.  Consistent with all of the studies available for construction costs, there is a significant range in cost, depending on location.

College Classroom Cost per Square Foot April 2010

College classrooms are essentially large assembly spaces and share a lot of design and construction qualities with other educational classroom settings, churches and other assembly facilities. Unless there are specific technologies integrated in the design, the range of cost is between $130 and $227 per square foot, with New York leading the list as most expensive place to build. Interestingly, college classrooms do tend to be more expensive to build than elementary, junior high, high and vocational schools (see Cost per Square Foot of Educational Facilities)

College Dormatory Cost per Square Foot April 2010

Dormatories generally are more expensive than classroom facilities on college campuses. This is largely due to the greater number of spaces and individual functions a dormatory needs to serve. Ranging from $144 a square foot in Winston-Salem to over $250 per square foot in New York, these projects are very similar to the construction costs for apartment buildings and hotels, which share very similar programmatic features.

College Student Union Cost per Square Foot April 2010

Student Unions are another unique building type found on college campuses. These buildings are essentially highly integrated mixed use facilities that typically include restaurant, assembly, office and retail uses. A lower construction cost is associated with these buildings, ranging from $119 to $208 per square foot, similar to projects of the same type in the private sector.

College Laboratory Cost per Square Foot April 2010

Finally, we look at College Laboratories. While the costs of these facilities are higher than classroom space, because of the special requirements they must have above a typical classroom, College Laboratories are still considerably less cost to build than medical office spaces which have significantly greater specialized design requirements (See Price per Square Foot Cost for Medical Office Buildings). The range for construction cost for College Laboratories ranges from nearly $140 per square foot, up to over $243 per square foot.

Each of these project types can vary greatly depending on the specific group of functions, the location, the campus and the population served. In order to better identify a more accurate estimate of construction cost, we must look at the specific program and all of the other factors that go into a cost assessment during the initial stages of design. For more specific information regarding the cost of any project, please contact us at EVstudio and we can assist in that process, which will set the stage for a highly successful design for your project.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dean Dalvit April 1, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Response from e-mail:
I was reading an article you wrote entitled “Cost per Square Foot of College Building Types by Region” and you eluded to the fact that the cost ranged from $130-$227 per square foot to construct a college classroom. Do these prices pertain to just constructing the building or constructing and fully furnishing the building?

Answer:
This data excludes FF&E, so furnishings and any equipment (A/V, whiteboards, etc.) would be in addition to the cost of the basic finished core and shell building. Bear in mind that there is some muddiness in comparing classrooms with fixed seating vs. those without, but in general, all seating really should be considered FF&E and should be budgeted for separately.

If you need any help with your project from an architecture or engineering point of view, please let me know and we would be happy to discuss. Thanks and best of luck!

-Dean

Dr. Yasser Mahgoub October 30, 2010 at 12:12 am

Thanks for the extremely useful and clear information.
Yasser Mahgoub

Dr. Kimberly Johnston September 1, 2010 at 1:15 pm

I am a college president and was wondering how I might get a recommended square foot per student for classroom, lab, dormitory and study space. Thanks.

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