Timeless Design

by Katie Sloan

Student housing design should be classic and timeless, and should depict an environment that isn’t childish or overly stylized.

David SendenStudent housing is not simply targeted, market-rate apartments. Any apartment developer thinking of jumping into this arena has to understand that not only is the ‘lingo’ different (we talk about beds, and not units), but designing for people who you know will move out after nine months, or for people who will have roommates that they may not even know, is a very different process.

It means considering everything from how the common wall between rooms is constructed in order to ensure privacy to how several individuals share a pantry. How should you heat hot water, if four people will be getting ready for the day at the same time, each in his or her own bathroom? It’s just different. And, that’s just the unit.

Designing housing for students can be challenging. Aesthetically, you want it to feel fresh and forward-looking, like the population it serves. The problem is: it needs to serve generations of students and the myriad changes in taste and preference that accompany them from year to year.

It’s important that even though you are designing for students, the buildings don’t look childish. Today’s students are worldlier and more design savvy than ever before. The focus is less-is-more; simple, clean, adaptable, and, ultimately, timeless. Not timeless in the sense of fitting into some historic mold, but timeless in a way that it’s not trendy or edgy or filled with the fad of the moment, on the outside that is.

In this way, we borrow a lot from hospitality design. The exteriors, which are not easily changed, are simple and straightforward with a few flourishes that can be changed with the times. On the interior, we assume a remodel every few years. Students are going to wear it out anyway. So the furnishings, technology, paint and interior materials will push boundaries. They’ll be fun, of-the-moment and offer the latest in connectivity and comfort.

Students go to college for the learning but equally as important is the collegiate “experience.” We want to create an environment for the students that allows them to have the best possible social experience in a setting that is safe and still fosters an academic mission. It needs to speak to the students’ sense of fun and adventure, but also to the parents’ sense of practicality, security and pocketbook.

We want the student amenity spaces to offer a variety of experiences and levels of community. A ground-floor amenity creates the opportunity for the residents to be a part of the larger community and opens the door for that interaction and integration to occur with a visual and physical connection to the street and nearby campus.

Incorporating a rooftop pool deck is a more private area for the residents and guests and offers indoor/outdoor spaces for them to gather and form their own community within the building, while still maintaining visual connectivity to the campus. In addition to the pool, the rooftop deck offers lounge spaces, fire pit chat areas, an expansive sun deck and fitness facilities.

David Senden, principal with KTGY Group, Inc., Architecture + Planning, specializes in a collaborative approach to student housing. Celebrating 21 years, KTGY is a national award-winning firm providing planning and architectural design services for residential communities, retail, hospitality, mixed-use and related specialty developments. For more information, visit www.KTGY.com.

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