Student campus living, to be profitable, must be about the experience.
The Community College campus experience establishes an inclusive richness in diversity by promoting alternative education perspectives for students in the local communities where they reside.
Bachelor’s degree programs are offered at many community college campuses which are based on marketplace workforce needs that are in accelerated demand, such as nursing and advanced manufacturing positions. For students who may not have the opportunity to attend a university, community colleges are a vital component to promote career and employment by providing courses and programs that accommodate a wide variety of educational objectives.
The global news agency Reuters reported just recently that in the United States two out of every three new entry level jobs require education and training beyond the high school level. Nearly sixty percent of adults in the United States have not sought out education beyond high school. Another twenty percent of adults have enrolled in higher education, but never finished college. Our community colleges educate supportive skilled labor for local businesses while allowing graduating student’s employment in the neighborhoods where they live. And there is more. Nearly seventy percent of community college students desire and aspire to transfer to a four year university.
Traditional age graduating high school students are choosing community college right out of high school, and they expect a full campus experience with amenities that support academic success and achievement.
To live on-campus provides students with direct access to shared campus resources. These allow for the development of authentic urban core environments, to build inclusive, walkable and connected neighborhoods within the campus city. The on-campus communities are constructed with the aspiration of living simply, yet with profound purpose and vitality. This is to be founded in a materials based format to achieve design diversity, efficiencies, affordability, sustainability, functionality, and constructability.
By establishing on each community college campus ‘innovation’ districts and villages inclusive of student housing, must be made from vibrant, mixed-use communities, each with its own unique identity and aesthetic preferences. This promotes spontaneous opportunities for social engagement and academic success. Each village is separated with it’s own identity, but in union with their neighbors and campus surroundings.
Culture, sidewalk art, privacy, wellness, security, food as entertainment, soapbox platforms for spontaneous speeches and the development of personal individuality in a collective atmosphere and forum for student personality and academic growth.
Enabling students to retain more control over their surroundings and activities while retaining their independence is at the heart of what establishes a communality with in a community. Homes and housing needs to reflect the need for communal connections in open-concept spaces made from centers of engagement. The connection between people and place creates avenues of activity that provide meaningful interactions.
On a community or City College there is no upper class
Campus integration, affordability, connectivity is the new platform for an inclusive design with integrated uses, activities, services, all of which support a sense of privacy, security, connectivity and community.
Affordability is everything.
Student housing typically services full time single students. Yet, there is an increasing housing insecurity, rent discrepancy and housing cost burden for the community college student. In addition to the basic navigators and essential student needs based on the increasing economic impact for the three necessities of life (shelter, clothing and food), these items can make a full time community college education unattainable. One out of every ten community college students is housing challenged. Homelessness and housing insecure students make up 10% of the overall student population.
A poor housing experience on campus leads to lower enrollment and lower student retention. Community colleges educate as many middle and low income college students as public four-year colleges do, but community colleges attract less funding. The demand for on-campus community college living is increasing at an accelerated rate. Student housng becomes imperative to create revenue streams that generate academics. State funding in the forms of Senate and Assembly bills that are either currently in legislation or that have just recently been passed into law, will provide resources for these new forms of community housing.
SB 330 provides affordable housing for both community college students and campus workforce employees. This bill eliminates barriers concerning private-public joint ownership of a college’s building’s and property, allowing for private development and operation of affordable on-campus student and workforce housing.
The Biden administration has proposed that the United States pay for up to two free years of post secondary education, such as at community colleges, in addition to Pell Grants and student loans.
Westberg White Architecture Residential will further expand in detail on this topic, in addition to a thorough discussion on Public Private Partnerships (P3’s), in an another article to be released in the very near future.
To Think a New Thought
Campus housing must meet student expectations. These creative homes must align and respect the community’s personality, diversity, scale and character. Campuses must be concerned with the total cost of attendance for each student.
Westberg White Architecture Residential is often asked what we forecast in light of, or maybe in the shadow of 2020, for affordable residential living. There are two items that are an immediate response:
- Affordable communities will thrive. The growth potential is enormous. Why? Because it has to. The need, the demand, the necessity for affordable, inclusionary housing is overwhelming and critically under served.
- These new urban environments, neighborhoods, communities and student centers are to be located purposefully within the city college context. Future student housing will be different. In a positive way.
The New Campus Experience
Apartment style, multi-family student housing projects will be the new normal that provide services and programs that focus on affordability. Students live in a public nucleus, yet need to maintain a private sphere of individuality.
Each story in a student housing project operates as a self contained unit with its own cooking, dining and activity spaces. Each house is self-sufficient, staff members are cross-trained to take on multiple roles, that greatly reduces the number of people who need to enter and exit a student housing building. Homes on campus are centered on people, purpose and place.
Third places, place making, smart lockers, deliveries, a concierge service, immersive experiences, artificial intelligence, smart classrooms, inter-active exchanges, an activated roof top deck, in-wall hydration stations, wellness activities, aerobics, yoga classes, personal shoppers, a business center, pet day care and veterinarian services, bicycle repair and storage, child development centers, recycling and upcycling are all a consideration for each campus to consider as it relates to sharing resources and student serves across campus.
Floor plans must encourage movement, an overall larger space to emphasize and to promote engagement and activity. The kitchen becomes a community area, to create a home-like atmosphere and encourages collaboration and communication between residents.
Access to college community food pantries located on campus is where students have access to donated food surpluses. Three out of every ten students report to have experienced hunger.
Marketplaces in between campus housing, is one of the most dynamic experimental retail experiences in the world and consist of open air shops arranged along narrow streets, clustered according to the type of goods being offered. Commonly referred to as “bazaars”, they are typically just that. These emporium and exchange piazza’s generate arcade activities, entertainment, spontaneous art and social outreach opportunities with integrated internal and external connectivity achieved by open glazed portals. By definition they must be colorful, noisy and filled with music and laughter.
Creating areas of discovery and comfortable niches and alcoves for casual conversations allows for unexpected but welcomed meeting connections. Immersive moments of lighting, visible motion, and sound splashed up on to high media walls intentionally left blank for just these spontaneous moments of surprise are intended and intentional.
The New Campus Experience: Districts
The thriving campus has many centers from which activity is directed and focused by utilizing innovative pedestrian vertical and horizontal circulation patterns. This forms the overlay for the ‘15-minutes to everything’ ideals, or mixed-zone neighborhoods. Students can walk or bike to class, to work, shop, and visit open space green arenas in an all inclusive environment which is obtainable within a car-less 15 minute radius of their on-campus residence.
All innovation districts contain economic, physical and networking assets. These self-sufficient innovation districts would be distributed across the campus and function as urban villages that coexist, acting as a self-contained “city within a city.” This new platform for Student Living supports a common humanity with activated spaces in co-independent living styles of residential floor plans. A synergy relationship between people and place facilitates idea generation. Event lawns form a nucleus for various forms of face to face connections.
The concept of the Residential Hall, most of which were built 50 to 60 years ago, provides opportunities for being renovated and remodeled to be been transformed into supportive communities of students living interdependently. These mixed-use residential communities create unique and independent districts of breathing buildings. It is within this all-inclusive environment for student housing where resources are intended to be shared across campus. Each district, or living learning neighborhood, is a where students develop a sense of individual and community identity. This is achieved by implementing contemporary urban design ‘smart city’ Internet of Things systems and programs utilizing digital technology and data collection in place to improve the quality of life. Wi-Fi available anywhere and everywhere throughout the structures for connected campus technologies is essential to this new platform for student living.
A Lifestyle Community on campus is where student residents share similar experiences in the activities and classes that interest them, while being open to new thoughts and the collective expressions of neighboring campus districts. This expanding idea on the Theme House model, allows student residents to gain insights into the behavior, motivations, originality, attitudes and development of others who have like interests, while maintaining an active curiosity in other areas of education and personal growth.
The “To Build a City” platform pioneered by Westberg White Architecture Residential, brings 35 years of campus and education architectural experience, combined with 35 years of high density attached residential, multifamily and mixed use experience to distinguish a new platform for affordable, sustainable student homes for the community college campus, to promote a individualistic blend for the new learn live experience.
© 2021 BSM
Bradley Mansfield has 35 years of professional Architectural experience in proven leadership which allows him to be actively involved with the complete processes of planning, design, entitlement, documentation and construction to ensure each project experience and the defined expectations of the client are exceeded. This is achieved by providing quality design and superior deliverables in a diverse array of project types, specializing in transit oriented, affordable, high density, mixed-use, and multi-family developments.