University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Minnesota Facilities Model

The Minnesota Facilities Model is a nationally recognized tool for evaluating and planning for space use in campus facilities.


In July 1982, a team of University faculty and staff was appointed to develop a set of guidelines and procedures for estimating space needs at the University of Minnesota. After studying procedures and standards used at other research institutions, and evaluating the University's needs with the help of collegiate administrators, the team proposed a systematic method of evaluation which came to be known as the Minnesota Facilities Model (MFM).

After ten years of use, the MFM was reviewed by space personnel at peer institutions and by the Faculty Senate Committee on Finance and Planning and was subsequently revised by University Planning.


Continued remodeling of existing facilities and responsible planning of new facilities are integral to the University's ongoing effort to provide the appropriate amount of the right type of space to support its instructional, research, and service programs. Coupled with judicious maintenance and operations practices, the use of the MFM helps ensure that the University accomplishes its mission in the most cost-effective manner possible.

The MFM has several applications:

  • Routine departmental/collegiate audits. MFM guidelines are applied to generate a comparison of how much space a program needs vs. how much space a program is assigned. This allows strategic analysis of activities and supporting space at the department/collegiate level.
  • Multiple college audits. A similar comparison of space generated by MFM guidelines vs. space assigned can be done for multiple programs to support strategic planning on the University level, as requested by the senior vice presidents.
  • Predesign. The MFM is used to identify space requirements and test the fit when a major remodeling or new construction project is authorized.
  • Special analyses. The MFM is used to support Sponsored Projects Administration indirect cost recovery negotiations as well as requests from Real Estate to assess lease space needs, etc.
  • Guideline changes. Before a guideline for the amount of space allocation is adjusted, test audits are conducted to assess the impact of the proposed change and the University's ability to accommodate it.

Requirements for MFM Analysis

Space Management personnel will work with a department or unit to gather the five components needed for an MFM analysis:

  • Inventory of existing space assignments. The inventory of existing space for the involved units/departments is updated in the SPACE database. Appropriate data is pulled from the database to facilitate comparison of existing space with the amount of space generated by application of MFM guidelines.
  • Employee data. A list of all employees, including student employees, showing their name, job title, and percentage of appointment is required. This information can be compiled from the "Salary and Fringe Detail by Pay Period and Department" report, which is available at in the Payroll Reports section.
  • Graduate student data. The total number of graduate students is needed, as well as the number of these who are considered advanced graduate students. An advanced graduate student has completed his/her preliminary exams or the first year of coursework in a Plan A graduate program.
  • Instructional space. Academic courses involved are identified and Weekly Student Contact Hours (WSCH) determined. The instructional space required is calculated using the MFM.
  • Special space. Space Management examines the SPACE inventory to identify existing spaces which are considered "special" or unique and incorporates them into the MFM application. Other special space needs are discussed with the group for inclusion in the MFM application.

The MFM analysis is jointly reviewed by Space Management and the departments/units affected. Generally, if a department's existing space is within +/- 10% of MFM guidelines, the space is considered to be adequate for the department's needs. Other items which may come under consideration include architectural constraints of existing space, quality of existing space, or the University's approved future growth of the department.