college students enjoy the comforts of home away from home and more.
By C.B. Adams
It may be called dorm life, but today's college and university students
are demandingand receivinga residence hall experience
that is closer to living in a luxury hotel. The days of double-occupancy
cinder block dorm rooms and a gang shower down the hall are making
way for apartment-style accommodations, complete with a full kitchen
and semi-private bathroom.
today are demanding more amenities," says Paul Wuennenberg,
a project designer for St. Louis architectural firm Mackey Mitchell
Associates. "Their top demand is privacy. They want to share
a bathroom with two to no more than four individuals. And they
want cable TV, Internet access and a telephone for each person
in his or her own room. This is a trend we are seeing nationwide.
Students are demanding more and institutions are having to renovate
or get rid of their existing traditional residence halls to meet
An informal gathering area at the base of the stairs fosters
student interaction at Washington University's Small Group Housing.
and universities, including University of Missouri-St. Louis,
Maryville University, Washington University and Webster University
have been responding to these new demands for the past few years.
is about to begin construction this spring with its very first
apartment-style residence halls. This effort was in response to
students who said they wanted the independence and privacy not
available when living in the university's traditional dormitories.
current students say they would move to off-campus apartments,
but they would prefer to stay on campus. So our new apartments
will meet that need. And, housing is an important part of the
enrollment equation. It is an important part of recruiting,"
says Beth Triplett, Ph.D., vice president for enrollment for Maryville.
The new units
will open by the time students return this fall. The first building
will have 50 beds in 15 apartments. The university hopes to build
a total of five units in coming years.
An informal gathering area at the base of the stairs fosters student
interaction at Washington University's Small Group Housing.
The apartments will have two, three or four private bedrooms,
a common living room and a kitchen that includes a microwave,
full-size stove and refrigerator and dishwasher. The units are
also fully furnished. Each bedroom is wired for telephone and
a data port that supports updated electronics and data distribution
apartment-style residential housing units are built around the
concept of offering students the amenities they had at home and
what they could find in the apartment marketplace," says
Larry Krapfl, vice president for Paric Corporation, construction
management firm building the units. "They are very similar
to commercial apartment projects, except they allow students to
enjoy the on-campus experience."
University recently completed two phases of student housing for
both freshmen and upperclassmen on the "South 40" area
of the campus. These facilities, which the University calls a
Living/Learning Community, feature double rooms with connecting
private bath for freshmen or four bedroom single suites with shared
bathroom and living room for upperclassmen.
fall, some students were the first to experience an enhanced level
of residential life when Washington University opened the new
on-campus option for upperclassmen called "Small Group Housing."
Located at the corner of Forest Park Parkway and Big Bend Blvd.,
the complex offers housing for more than 300 residents in small,
special interest groups. In addition, more than 100 fraternity
members stay in four houses. Two guest rooms and an apartment
are also part of the complex.
for small group housing arose from upperclassmen who chose to
move away from campus housing. Typically, they moved away in small
groups, usually with friends or other students with a common interest,
such as theater or art.
idea was to provide housing that would allow students to live
together in groups of 10 to 30. Designing small group housing
was interesting, because it required a unique plan that would
foster a sense of community among the students," Wuennenberg
are singles in four-bedroom suites with two bathrooms. To provide
privacy, bedrooms are large enough for a lounge chair in addition
to basic furniture. All rooms feature a full range of amenities,
including voice and network connections. Each suite and room controls
its own HVAC unit with year-round air conditioning.
is really important to students. So we worked on better methods
to make students' rooms economically soundproof. We had to make
sure that noise was deadened through insulation and wall, ceiling
and floor construction," says Kevin W. Kuntz, executive vice
president for McCarthy Building Companies, the general contractor
on the project.
The suites do
not have living rooms. Rather, each floor has three or four larger
living rooms with kitchenettes. Each small group is assigned a living
room for its exclusive use as a social gathering space. Other amenities
include multi-purpose workspaces, a blackbox performance room with
seating for 100, music practice rooms and a computer facility for
graphics terminals. There is also a Great Hall that can be used
for receptions, lectures, recitals or meetings and serves as the
social and intellectual focal point of the residential complex.
What would typically be a cafteria has been transformed into
a more upscale student dining room at Washington University's Small
has been enhanced. No meatloaf and hairnets for these students.
The serving area has the feel of an upscale contemporary food
court. Students have their choice of a changing menu of unique
international food, including Indonesian. The intimate dining
room is broken into semi-private areas so groups can dine together.
Students can also reserve private dining rooms.
group housing is a hybrid of residence hall meets large apartment-all
with Washington University's signature Collegiate Gothic architecture.
We are involved with institutions nationwide and offering better
residence halls like these is a trend everywhere. Students just
aren't interested in living in traditional dormitories with few
amenities," Wuennenberg says.
C. B. Adams
is a St. Louis-based writer, communications consultant and adjunct
faculty member at University of Missouri-St. Louis.