In the latest issue of ACUHO-I’s Talking Stick magazine, Lynne Deninger offers insights on ways universities and colleges can overcome obstacles to developing quality student housing facilities. Citing examples from projects including Lassonde Studios, Starin Hall, East Hall and Langdon Woods Residence Hall, Lynne discusses how to create a more welcoming environment, the increasing impact of technology and maker spaces, and how to embrace sustainability and surrounding environments within housing design.

The full article can be read online, but here are some insights from the piece:

Housing projects should address engagement challenges by introducing spaces that enrich student experiences:

Lassonde Studios at the University of Utah is an example of completely rethinking the model of traditional housing to focus on fostering campus engagement and interaction through entrepreneurship… the housing component allows students from every academic level and discipline to live together across themed floors with four different room types; from traditional double rooms for first years, to single pods and lofts for upper-class students. Each of the themed floors is equipped with technology and resources to further integrate student life and entrepreneurial learning and making… Adding accessible and inclusive residential spaces for collaboration and culture, purposeful organization and designing for connectivity allows students to engage with peers and develop synergy with the larger campus population; all key steps in strengthening the student experience and maintaining student retention. (Lassonde Studios was developed by EDA Architecture in association with CannonDesign.)

Starin Hall supports health or mobility-challenged students to live together, a first on their campus. As students with disabilities desired to be able to live together, the suites include two accessible bathrooms sized to support care providers. The campus also installed conduits for future power assist door hardware in suites on the upper floors… Facilities like Starin Hall provide increased awareness and commitment to sustainability and physical diversity within student populations. (Starin Hall was developed by Potter Lawson in association with CannonDesign.)

Universities and colleges can benefit from sustainability through improved design:

Incorporating elements such as solar panels, green water systems, and features that increase the use of natural vs. artificial light help keep the environment friendly, while at the same time supporting students’ desire to live more sustainably. Langdon Woods Residence Hall at Plymouth State University took this idea to the max through creating a facility that has an organic relationship with its site topography – woodlands and wetlands. Instead of blasting and reforming the build site, the design of the residence hall was made to fit the site’s undulating contours, capitalizing on its flattest areas and preserving wetland and other water features. The building was purposefully made to be narrower in width to help maximize opportunities for daylighting, which would minimize lighting energy expenditures. It also uses excess heat from an adjacent cogeneration facility as the primary heat source for the building.

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