MHN Asks … About Student Housing

Each month, MHN Asks features insights from leading industry executives on a significant issue. Next month’s topic: design.

What kind of student housing amenities do you expect to be more in-demand this year compared to last year?

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Jaclyn Fitts, Director of National Student Housing at CBRE

Jaclyn Fitts, Director of National Student Housing at CBRE
Jaclyn Fitts, Director of National Student Housing at CBRE

❝The biggest student housing amenity is high-speed internet. We have seen some owners pull back on offering cable to their residents when their contracts expire as most students are moving to streaming content. As pedestrian sites become less available, developers are electing to build on smaller parcels with higher unit density, which results in highly attractive locations, but fewer overall amenities due to the site constraints. The most in-demand physical amenity is typically study rooms. Most high-end, non-site constrained developments include resort-style pools and fitness centers with separate weight, cardio, and yoga rooms. The cutting-edge properties feature dedicated Peloton studios. Pedestrian infill developments, where students are less likely to bring a car, are offering secured bike storage, bike maintenance shops, and car sharing programs.❞

Casey Petersen, COO, Peak Campus

Casey Petersen, COO, Peak Campus
Casey Petersen, COO, Peak Campus

❝Similar to last year, we expect to see students looking for a higher quality take on ‘traditional’ amenities, however we believe that the major difference today versus last year is the advancement of technology and how student interact with amenities. “Alexa: put in a work order to fix my garbage disposal” will now be heard from the common area of a technology-enabled smart apartment. Students are putting a higher priority on areas for studying and group work, so we focus on creating more dedicated study suites with smartboard and multi-media capabilities, in addition to spacious, more plush study lounges. Larger fitness centers with fitness flex spaces and Peloton bikes will be highly sought after, and we’re shifting our design perspective for these gyms to include an indoor-to-outdoor focus with glass garage doors or nano-walls to open the space to the outside where possible.❞

Meghan Bogener, AIA, IIDA, Project Architect & Interior Designer, KWK Architects

Meghan Bogener, AIA, IIDA, Project Architect & Interior Designer, KWK Architects
Meghan Bogener, AIA, IIDA, Project Architect & Interior Designer, KWK Architects

❝Our university clients are very focused on student health and social well-being. As student housing architects, we help universities foster community within residence halls by creating what we call ‘sticky spaces’ along the paths students take from building entry to their rooms. These ‘sticky spaces’ contain amenities that encourage social moments. Spaces such as student kitchens are becoming more prominent – RA’s schedule activities, such as cooking classes, that promote interaction between multiple communities. Demand for game rooms and laundry facilities is growing as these spaces move from more isolated areas to being connected physically or visually to a lounge or kitchenette. Placing these areas adjacent to circulation paths creates overlaps that promote social opportunities, spurring new relationships. ‘Sticky spaces’ don’t stop at the front door – popular outdoor amenities such as patios with firepits, lounge seating and outdoor power allow these community-building spaces to extend beyond the building.❞

You’ll find more on this topic in the May 2018 issue of MHN.