Teamwork behind-the-scenes and in every corner

September 16, 2021

Yale University’s three campuses and athletic complexes, comprising more than 520 buildings (owned or leased), literally cover a lot of ground. The majority of the approximately 21 million gross square feet (GSF) of Yale’s space is inventoried, including floors, rooms, offices, laboratories, corridors, basements, stairwells, and so much more. Information related to these areas is also gathered regarding occupancy, room numbers, and how the space is used. Also tracked are gardens, parking lots and other outdoor land entities like forests and ponds.

The Office of Facilities Space Management and Information Systems (SMIS) team is the group dedicated to keeping track of Yale’s vast amount of program space. SMIS managers Elizabeth “Beth” Anderson and Mary Hill, and Elisa Caciopoli, SMIS Technical Assistant, keep track of it all. Beth and Elisa maintain spatial and occupancy data for central campus and other locations in Connecticut (e.g., Gilder Boathouse in Derby), while Mary manages data for the Medical and West Campuses. Some unusual properties are also tracked by this team, including the Yale-Myers Forest in Northeastern Connecticut and Horse Island, the largest of the Thimble Islands off the coast of Branford.

Ongoing general building and/or space data accuracy is vital to the effectiveness of the departments’ function and involves yearly reviews with units across campus. For the last 20 plus years, this type of information was fed into and stored in the Facilities Asset Management Information System (FAMIS) and Space Information System (SIS). Recently all the data, spatial and occupancy, was transferred to the new technology solution: AssetWorks. Some new functionality of AssetWorks includes the ability to create custom dashboards and colored floorplans from the central campus space data.

When a new building goes up, or a renovation is performed, the space team collects new or updated information and enters it into AssetWorks. Keeping this information accurate and relevant is essential to the workflow spanning the entire Facilities division. The data has many uses, including providing updated information for floorplans and work orders, assigning workspace, running reports, and calculating capital replacement costs or carbon charges.

Square footage accuracy is provided by the Yale Computer-Aided Design (CAD) team that includes David Kula, CAD Team Leader and Anthony Papallo, CAD Professional. The plans have a polyline around each space that determines the square footage and is then linked to the central database. The CAD team also maintains the official campus map. “There is a bidirectional feed of data between the CAD floor plans and the space data in AssetWorks. We work very closely with the CAD team,” said Beth.

There are many interesting aspects to the job for the space team members, including reviewing and measuring an area of campus usually off limits to others. On one occasion, Elisa and Beth found themselves on the roof of Sterling Memorial Library, taking in the view and measurements to ensure the accuracy of existing floorplans. Elisa climbed through and up Harkness Tower to check for any room discrepancies. In both cases, minor data issues that were discovered and adjusted in the central database. “When West Campus, the Yale Health Center, the Yale Science Building, and the two new colleges came online, we had to walk every building room by room collecting data and ensuring space, room numbering, and square footage accuracy,” said Elisa.

The Medical Campus offers its own interesting aspects of space. “It’s fascinating to walk through spaces and see all the different technologies used. And, of course, there are the infamous School of Medicine tunnels. Early in my career, I had to quite often navigate my way through them. You’d find some interesting things down there. Space is and was always at a premium; one walkthrough, we found someone had converted a small bathroom into an office space!” said Mary.

Some fun facts:

  • The largest building on campus: Payne Whitney Gymnasium — 535,971 GSF
  • The newest building on campus: Yale Science Building — Opened August 2019
  • The oldest building on campus: Connecticut Hall — Opened 1750
  • Mary, Beth, and Elisa have 62 years of combined service and they all started working at Yale in the month of August.  


SMIS team’s favorite campus spaces

  • Beth: “I have quite a few favorites, but I would say the Sterling Memorial Library Nave and Starr Main Reference (former Reading) Room, the renovated Hendrie Hall and its addition, and in the Humanities Quadrangle [with] its large first-floor space that used to be the Graduate Student Lounge – to name just a few.”
  • Elisa: “The spiral staircase inside 212 York Street (makes for a cool photo) and the peaceful Happy and Bob Doran Tea Gate at the Yale University Art Gallery.”
  • Mary: “The Anlyan Center (TAC). This 457,000 GSF facility is the largest construction project in the history of the Yale School of Medicine. TAC stands on the former site of three smaller Yale buildings, including 350 Congress Avenue, a former nursing dormitory turned office building where I worked when I first started at Yale.”