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Oct. 4, 2023

Staff voice: Making a difference with spaces and places

Barb Kranz oversees Institutional Space Planning and Management for Michigan State University. In this role, Kranz is responsible for the strategic alignment of space and physical resources to support MSU’s core mission of advancing knowledge, conducting high-caliber research and enabling outreach and engagement.

Barb Kranz

I like to do puzzles. I thrive on systems thinking — looking at the ecosystem and the ability to connect the dots to create something greater than the sum of its parts. Space planning and management is like solving a big puzzle. It is really a blending of art and science, which I am passionate about. 

At MSU, space planning and management is a constant process guided by the 2030 Strategic Plan, the five-year Capital Plan and the University Facilities and Land Use Plan, not only for the main campus but also the university’s physical assets across the state, including in Grand Rapids, Flint, and Detroit as well as multiple AgBioResearch stations and MSU Extension locations. Nothing is prescribed. These plans provide a framework that can adapt and change over time to guide future development.

Our goals are only accomplished by working with others. Space planning and management is an incredibly collaborative process, and I enjoy having the opportunity to engage across all of MSU’s colleges and units. From needing a laboratory space to navigating ongoing improvements in classroom spaces to planning for new buildings, the problems may be similar, but the breadth and depth of mission — the scale, complexity and opportunity — are never the same.

Our work is never static. But not all our projects are as easy to see as the new Multicultural Center or Student Health and Wellness Center. Currently, renovations are underway in the Chemistry Building and Clinical Center D-Wing to accommodate research growth. In addition, we recently completed renovations in Wonders Hall to create new teaching and learning spaces that support student success. Space planning and management is as much about new construction as it is about reallocation of existing space to be good stewards of our resources.

Soon I will have spent 38 years at MSU working with dedicated people to provide spaces and places that are a critical component to the success of our campus community — spaces and places to learn, explore, engage and belong. I have the opportunity to create and be a part of something that has an enduring impact for generations — and that is pretty awesome.

Google Earth image of MSU’s campus. White text indicates Red Cedar River. Four locations are marked with a green star: Breslin Center, Spartan Stadium, Beaumont Tower, Wharton Center. Four locations are marked with a white dot connected to a circle containing photos or building renderings.

A host of building projects add momentum to MSU’s strategic vision for academics, research and wellness.

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