Vagabond Shark

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University Housing 2.0

Posted by Peter W on June 13, 2007

I haven’t moved in yet, but so far I’m not impressed with the student housing options at PSU.

Its not that its worse than at other schools — as far as I can tell they are all just as bland.

But couldn’t it be better? Check this out –

The MIT Simmons Hall looks both amazing and crazy at the same time (see architect’s page, photos, more info). Each dorm room has nine windows so you can do things like open the windows at the bottom and top to increase ventilation, and there are what look like giant holes in the side of the building, and cave like things bringing light into multiple stories, and really pretty staircases. Some of the cave like things even stick out into the hallways, which may be annoying if trying to squeeze lots of people through, but must make for an interesting experience. Mainly the residence hall just seems cool and exciting, and it is one of many cool new buildings being built at MIT. I wish I could say that buildings at PSU were that cool and exciting.

Looking around online, I didn’t find much else in the way of cool university housing, but Maple Hill Residence Hall in Arkansas looks nice. It isn’t amazing like the Simmons Hall, but it has a nice old mansion kind of appearance. I also like that it has a fireplace lounge on each floor – I think that adds to the “big old house” feel of it.

Apparently colleges are actually quite interested in Housing 2.0… so much so that the Association of College and University Housing Officers–International put up $25,000 prize money in a competition to design the next great dorm. The winner was flexDorm, according to this press release:

Stackable rooms, fold-out beds, and a one-piece sink and toilet are just some of the features that will be included in the residence hall of the future according to design concepts submitted by Jonathan Levi Architects (JLA) of Boston, Massachusetts. These innovative ideas, along with technological advances such as a smart-media wall and glass walls with adjustable transparencies, earned the company the jury’s grand prize for best design…

But $25,000 is nothing compared to the $25-billion higher education construction industry. With schools spending that much, hopefully some of them are working on really great buildings.

So back to housing, what would make a really great Dorm 2.0?
Here’s some ideas for things that most dorms might not have:

  • a mini patio or deck for each room, or a shared terrace
  • window seats
  • lots of nice lighting
  • soundproof walls
  • quite study rooms and lounges
  • game rooms
  • exercise rooms
  • computer labs
  • movie room
  • nice furniture already in the rooms (optionally)
  • built in sound systems
  • wood floors
  • kitchens with mini fridge, stove, oven
  • high speed internet ports or wireless access
  • mixed uses including classrooms and businesses (like cafes) on the ground floor
  • sustainable features like a green roof with community garden, energy efficient heating, cooling and lighting, and recovering rainwater for use in the building (PSU’s Epler Hall is a pretty awesome example actually)

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