Operations > Facilities

Space Allocation Guidelines

1. Introduction

This document is developed to guide the process of space allocation in the department. The
document defines a set of general expectations for efficient usage of space in these classifications:
research space, teaching space, faculty offices, staff space, administrative space, and multi-use
space. These expectations, stated as guidelines, establish a common initial framework for the
Faculty and the Department Chair to use in space discussions. The guidelines, in short, are
advisory to the Faculty and to the Department Chair, and are not intended to impose any rigid
constraint on the Faculty or the Chair in specific space assignments.

2. Guidelines

2.0 General University policy

The University Handbook, Vol. II, Section 12.22 (with heading "The Provost") states these
policies and procedures involving space:

  1. Section 12-22. A. The Provost provides leadership in [...] allocation of space.
  2. Section 12-22. C. 7. b. The Capital and Space Planning Office [...] develops space
    planning standards and unit space allocations, and plans and directs the space
    management and allocation system.

The Handbook states clearly that "space management and allocation" is part of the Capital and
Space Planning Office, which reports directly to the Provost. The Provost is the final decision
maker. An informal re-statement of these policies, commonly used in space decision-making and
space request processes, is that space is not "owned" by any college, department or individual in a

All University requirements regarding safety, health, disabilities accommodations, fire
regulations, security, etc., automatically apply to all space allocation guidelines and decisions,
even if some guidelines below do not explicitly specify these requirements.

2.1 Research Space

  1. The department should supply adequate space for all active research projects. Funded
    projects may have priority over long-term unfunded projects.
  2. Departmental metrics such as research productivity, degree production, etc. should be
    factored in during research space allocation.
  3. The sense of community should be paramount in the assignment of research space.
    Namely, students and faculty with compatible interests should be put, whenever possible,
    in the same or adjacent space.
  4. Sharing of research space among compatible faculty and students should be rewarded
    with higher priority of department support.
  5. Each project should have an identifiable location, which may be shared with other
    compatible projects.
  6. Full-time Ph.D. students and full-time Masters students (Thesis option) should ideally be
    provided with desk space in their advisor's area(s), or in an appropriate space based on
    safety and other facilities' considerations.
  7. Undergraduate research, especially projects involving a significant number of students,
    should be provided with suitable space whenever possible. Suitable space, as opposed to
    individual desks, means space efficiently shared with other undergraduate and/or
    graduate students.
  8. It is expected that personal computing equipment be integrated into a researcher's desk
    area. Larger computing clusters or specialized computing equipment could be located
  9. It is acceptable to have meeting space in labs which are shared by faculty.
  10. Unheated and/or unlit space, pooled across faculty, should be used for long-term storage
    of equipment. Laboratories should not be used for long-term storage.
  11. It is up to the faculty to use efficiently the space they are provided. Significant unused
    areas of laboratories, even if occupied with furniture and/or equipment, are assignable to
    faculty who need more space.
  12. For joint faculty appointment, the majority department should be responsible for the
    faculty’s research space, unless a special arrangement is made at the time of the
  13. The benefits and costs of special equipment and facilities should be, whenever possible,
    shared by all faculty and students.

2.2 Departmental Teaching Space

  1. At any time, the number of students in the lab should conform to fire and electric safety
    codes for labs.
  2. Space should be provided for Teaching Assistants to meet with their students (during
    office hours) in a manner that does not interfere with other activities.
  3. Space should be available for tutoring activities.
  4. Allocation of space for teaching labs must consider equipment size and requirements, and
    any special needs.
  5. Space will be allocated to allow for easy access to technical staff and maintenance of labs.
  6. Space allocation for experiments shall be based on no more than three students per bench.
  7. Labs offered in multiple quarters and several times per week should have a dedicated lab
    space during the scheduled lab time.
  8. Lab consolidation for multiple courses is encouraged subject to compatible usage.
  9. Labs used only part time for instruction should accommodate other compatible activities
    to achieve full utilization of the space.
  10. Students working on projects, including undergraduate research projects, should be given
    flexible access to labs.
  11. Flexible access to labs is encouraged provided that (a) total number of students does not
    exceed fire and safety limits, (b) equipment used do not pose electrical, chemical or
    mechanical hazards, and (c) regularly scheduled lab sections have priority for lab space.

2.3 Shared Research/Teaching Space

  1. Labs used only part time for instruction should accommodate other compatible activities
    to achieve full utilization of space.

2.4 Faculty Offices

  1. Tenure-track, Research, and WOT Faculty (all ranks, including significant joint
    appointments). Each faculty is assigned one office. There is no preference or difference
    based on rank.
  2. Research Scientists are assigned shared offices. There is no preference or difference
    based on rank. Single-office assignment to an individual is also an option.
  3. Research Associate, Post-docs should be accommodated in the research lab by the
    sponsoring faculty. If there is a lack of space in the research lab, shared offices can be
    considered upon request.
  4. Senior Lecturers with active full-time duties. Each Senior Lecturer with active full-time
    duties is assigned one office.
  5. Visiting Faculty, Visiting Scientists, and Occasional Lecturers. It is acceptable to assign
    these individuals to shared offices. Single-office assignment to an individual is also an
  6. Emeritus Faculty (all ranks). No space is automatically assigned, although a single
    common space may be allocated.
  7. Adjunct and Affiliate Faculty. No space is normally assigned unless such individuals are
    teaching, in which case a shared office is acceptable.
  8. Faculty are encouraged to use their offices for meetings when possible.
  9. Faculty on leave. Faculty on extended leave away from the UW may not need access to a
    full office, and in such cases, the office may be re-assigned for other temporary use, in
    consultation with the faculty.

2.5 Staff, Support, and Administrative Space

  1. Staff are expected to share offices or have space in a common area, except in case of
    privacy requirements.
  2. In a shared office or common area, individual privacy may be ensured in consultation
    with the occupant (e.g. placement of partitions, etc.)
  3. A staff supervisor may or may not be assigned an individual office, depending on the
    supervisor's job characteristics and availability of space.
  4. Proximity of technical staff and research staff to the facilities and the faculty they support
    is critical.
  5. Shared space should be assigned to the student societies in the department.
  6. Items in long-term or medium-term storage shall be stored off-campus or in other
    facilities unless frequent and/or immediate access is required. Storage items requiring
    frequent access shall be stored in on-campus space or in EECSE if space is available.
  7. Vestibule areas are to be suitably equipped for small group meetings. Under the
    Department Chair's discretion, some or all of them may be placed under a reservation
    system to provide additional conference room resources.
  8. Faculty are encouraged to use their offices for meetings when possible.
  9. Regularly scheduled seminars and events should use university general assignment
    classrooms to reduce demands on conference rooms.

3. Process to Implement Guidelines

  1. Guidelines are advisory to the Faculty and to the Department Chair. These guidelines are
    not intended to impose any rigid constraint on the Faculty or the Chair in specific space
  2. In the event of disagreement over space assignments, the Chair and the Faculty (or a
    subset thereof) should resolve the disagreement via open discussions with interested
    parties. Resolutions should be communicated in an open manner. The Chair has the
    authority to make the final decision within the department.
  3. Frequent space shuffling impacts continuity and stability, and should be avoided.
  4. When possible, space assignment should accommodate adjacency. Adjacency may
    improve proximity to research laboratories and graduate students, enhance contact
    between colleagues with similar interests, and address issues associated with individual
  5. The space committee should be informed and consulted for any significant space
    commitment to incoming new faculty.
  6. Space allocation must conform to applicable health and safety standards, and other
    facilities regulations.
  7. In a shared office or common area, appropriate security must be provided to protect files,
    computer access, etc.
  8. Exceptions to the guidelines should be noted during the implementation process so that
    future revisions can use this record to improve the guidelines. Usage of space should be
    more visible to all faculty and staff to promote better understanding. A suggested
    mechanism is an annual space walk-through. The walk-through should be open to
    participation by interested faculty and staff, and should be advertised well in advance.
    Results of such space walk-through should be communicated to all faculty so that errors
    and misunderstandings can be corrected in a timely manner.
  9. Requests for changes in space should be made in writing (email is acceptable) to the EE
    Space Committee or the Department Chair. The request should include information
    supporting the space request, as well as any functional requirements (e.g. fume hood).

4. Process to Revise Guidelines

  1. The guideline document may be revised at the request of a collection of faculty and / or
    staff or of the department administration. A periodic review (e.g. every 3 years maximum)
    is suggested for possible revisions and improvement.
  2. If a revision is desirable, a committee of faculty and staff should be appointed to study
    and recommend revisions to the Faculty and Department Chair.

5. Supporting Material

5.1 Projections: Research and Teaching

5.1.1 Research projections

While it may be tempting to project research growth by speculating which areas are growing in
popularity, we will resist this temptation and instead go with these tendencies regarding research

  1. The most growth is normally seen in junior faculty's research programs.
  2. A shrinkage of faculty members' research program is normally expected when faculty
    head toward administrative positions.
  3. A considerable shrinkage of faculty members' research program is normally expected
    when faculty attain Emeritus status.
  4. There are often exceptions to the above tendencies. Decisions should ultimately be made
    on a case-by-case basis.

We thus feel that the safest course for projection of growth over a two-year period is to simply
plan to provide more space in the research areas of our newest faculty.

5.1.2 Teaching projections

Adequate space must be provided for teaching laboratory facilities for EE courses. As much as
possible, laboratory space should be shared by different courses, so that these rooms are used
efficiently (all day, most days, each quarter). Safety issues (electrical, mechanical hazards,
chemical) must be addressed by infrastructure, safety procedures and training.

Administrative decisions regarding the balance of space allocation between educational and
research purposes are beyond the mandate of this committee.


UW Health and Safety resources (links to existing sites) for laboratories

General web site: http://www.ehs.washington.edu

Kinds of space

An extensive document describing space is found at the following UW university site:


When contemplating the merits of possible space assignments, the College has requested that the
following be considered:

  1. Annual degree production (awarded BS/MS/PhD degrees)
  2. Annual direct cost expenditures per assigned square foot per PI
  3. Annual indirect cost expenditures per assigned square foot per PI
  4. Annual research productivity (quality of publications, society awards, etc.)
  5. Annual technology transfer activity
  6. Type of space use (wet lab, dry lab, computation lab, etc.)

Accurate construction of some of these metrics may be quite time consuming, and in some cases
quite subjective, and not particularly clear. Thus, the metrics are to be taken as advisory, rather
indicative of compulsory action.

Space Allocation Guidlines (pdf)

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