Finding Lab Space in a Tight Real Estate Market

July 9, 2019 |  Data
3 min

When space is tight, you have to make the most of what you have. Find out how two schools used LabStats data to solve space issues on campus.

Real estate on college campuses is tight. Between shrinking budgets and competition over space, adding a new computer lab may seem like a pipe dream. So if building a new lab isn’t an option, how do you move forward?

Both Macalester College and Mount Royal University used LabStats to facilitate creative solutions and get more out of their existing spaces.

Add a Class to a Computer Lab

Macalester College is a private liberal arts college in Minnesota. With just over 2,000 students, they have limited space and limited resources. So when the Psychology department wanted to add a class and host it in an existing computer lab in the Psychology building, IT was skeptical.

Macalester College

The IT team turned to data to see if it was possible to add a class to their already busy computer lab. They ran a Login History report with two different sets of criteria– by hour and by 15 minute intervals.

Login History Reports

After running the reports, they discovered that students didn’t use the computer lab between 9:40am-11:10am on weekdays. With data in hand, they approved the additional Psychology class for Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:40am. 

IT adjusted the computer lab hours around the new class, confident that students wouldn’t miss having access to the lab during that time. The new schedule provided students with the best experience by keeping similar classes in close proximity and allowed the Psychology department to feel ownership of the space.

Combine a Classroom and Computer Lab

In another area on Macalester’s campus, there were ongoing space challenges with an active learning classroom. So in 2018, IT relocated a computer lab into the space.


With the investment in hiding furniture, IT needed a way to track usage to ensure the computers weren’t just overlooked. They used the LabStats API to create a simple map to communicate computer availability and monitor activity.

Convert a Lab into a Classroom

Mount Royal University is a public university in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. With 12,000 students, 70 IT staff and approximately 150 labs on campus, maximizing space to meet a wide range of needs is key.

The perception was that computer labs on campus were being used to their full extent. However, when IT staff started tracking usage, they discovered that many labs weren’t used to their maximum capacity.

Mount Royal computer lab

Since running the reports, IT has been able to eliminate four labs without sacrificing service levels. The labs were able to be opened up for classroom use, creating significant savings for the IT department while also establishing additional revenue opportunities for the school.

Find the Balance

For both Macalester and Mount Royal, usage reports revealed opportunities to improve their spaces to better meet the needs of students and growing departments.

Think about the space you already have on campus. Are there rooms designated for classes, while others are exclusively used as computer labs? What would it take to make those spaces more flexible? Is it possible to accommodate both departmental growth and a higher demand for open computers?

With usage data, you can identify when those spaces are underutilized, and start making informed decisions about your computer labs.

This content was originally shared at the LabMan conference, by Jeremy Sedrick.

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