Amenities that Drive Student Housing
Student housing design centers around social, educational experiences
Far away from yesterday’s frat house lifestyle, student housing settings are designed to enhance not only the social but also the educational experiences on college campuses.
The blueprints for living and communal spaces in towering habitats emphasize individual and collaborative learning to supplement the higher education experience. Well-lit units and open common areas offer technology and ample space for students to study into the wee hours.
But don’t worry, the student experience isn’t all work and no play. Golf simulators and cool pools are there for the relaxing.
Student housing leaders and designers say such a syllabus for living not only appeases the greater expectations of today’s young scholars but also satisfies a very important demographic – the parents.
“Our mission is this is an extension of university life from an academic standpoint” said Jack Boarman, founding partner of student housing architect BKV Group. “Parents like the idea you’re extending the student’s ability to get an education on an individual or group basis.”
Study spaces are growing in popularity
The rage in student housing, at least according to speakers at the National Multifamily Housing Council student housing conference in New Orleans in September, is appropriately situated study rooms. Once considered wasted space because students preferred to cram for exams in their rooms, private or communal study spaces are more desirable to a generation of student that thrives on technology. Students are now armed with high-powered laptops and want the technology – like high-end printing devices and internet – that go along with them.
Easily accessible wi-fi is no longer an amenity, says Miles Orth, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Campus Apartments. “It’s a necessity.”
Asset Campus Housing builds an average of four study rooms with “all the electronics” per community, but the learning space isn’t just limited to inside, says Chief Operating Officer Julie Bonnin. Group seating areas outdoors are equipped with wireless connectivity so students can operate laptops and personal devices.
“Anything to get them to work and collaborate together is a strong amenity,” she said.
Flexibility of using the space also is desirable.
Christine Richards, Chief Operating Officer & EVP, EdR Collegiate Housing, says private and group spaces are outfitted with moveable furniture so students can arrange however necessary. She added that EdR, a publicly traded real estate investment trust, is tracking traffic moving in and out of common areas used for group study to get a better read on students’ work habits.
‘Kids don’t want to study in their rooms, they want to get out’
Architects are taking the lead and designing student housing communities to serve student and parent. Study areas, conference rooms and business centers are staples in designs by Dallas-based Humphreys & Partners Architects, LP.
“Kids don’t want to just study in their rooms, they want to get out,” said President Greg Faulkner. “It’s a social thing in general. We have different sizes and areas where students can gather and study together.”
Boarman says group studying that builds relationships is important, but the individual experience and creating a home-away-from-home experience is just as meaningful. Especially to a parent who is handing off their child ultimately to the care of housing operators.
A naturally lit bedroom with built-in desk space by a window is one way that BVK is creating a home-like feel. Also, moveable kitchen counters offer flexibility to create more space.
“You want to pull the light into the unit,” Boarman said. “Sunlight and visual openness is powerful.”
Connecting inside with outside creates more comforting environment
Open, well-lit lobby concepts and visual connectivity to outdoor amenities heightens the experience and help students manage the stress of college, he added. Moveable walls and sliding doors charge the entire community, from the ground level to the rooftop; creating openness between all spaces helps drive amenity dollars to a higher level, Boarman said.
“College is a stressful, a new thing for the student,” he said. “It’s how you build spaces that help balance stress and support the purpose.”