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What’s top of mind at KSQ

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Rethinking the On-Campus Student Apartment

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Apartment-style student housing has been on campuses for decades, but has often occupied a small niche in a school’s inventory.  Often relegated to married students, or graduate students, many on-campus apartments were barely a notch in quality above traditional, freshman-level housing.

Now, as schools expand their inventories to keep more upper-division students on campus, apartments are enjoying a renaissance.  Research indicates that a considerable number of students do enjoy the convenience, safety, and affordability of living on campus.  Moreover, a furnished unit — with utilities included in a nine-month contract — is attractive to a young adult short on funds.

For those students with families, on-campus apartments could be the difference between completing their degrees or dropping out of school.  “I couldn’t stay in college without my apartment here,” declared a single parent recently at Texas Woman’s University.  “There’s no way I could even make rent on a place that’s safe enough for a small child.”  Some campuses notice a dearth of quality, affordable housing in their local off-campus markets, and a practice of exploiting desperate students, especially international students who might arrive in town just days before classes begin.

Even for upper-division undergraduates, apartments are attractive – especially when the units remain affordable, and when the communities retain some of the features and gathering spaces they appreciated in their freshman halls.  UT Dallas’s newest Canyon Creek community provides two and four-bedroom units in a range of price points, and includes space at every level for study and socialization.

Gathering space outside the apartment unit is an important factor in building community.  Common study spaces provide a neutral, safe place for students to meet and interact without bringing casual acquaintances into their dwelling space or entering others’ units. And outdoor areas—from fire pits and gas grills to volleyball courts and hammock hangouts–are key to making the apartments feel like a community. Proximity to the university is often the best amenity of all, which means upperclassmen are more and more willing to stay on campus. Universities who discover the right mix of unit types and amenities at the right price point will have a waiting list on their hands.

 

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The Residential College Model: Student Housing Collides with the Classroom

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KSQ Principal Armand Quadrini had the opportunity to present at the 4th Annual Residential College Symposium at Washington University recently–our presentation focused on the idea of transforming vintage or legacy halls into living-learning spaces without major redesign. Needless to say, he enjoyed the opportunity to learn from student affairs and faculty leaders across the nation on how this residential model is impacting their campus.

Dr. Frank Shushok from Virginia Tech presents one of the keynote addresses at the 4th annual Residential College Symposium held this year at Washington University.

Whether simply including more whiteboard-equipped study spaces in an honors hall to actual classrooms and faculty-in-residence apartments in a residential college, KSQ understands that combining academic spaces with living spaces helps many college students engage more in their studies, achieve higher GPAs and remain connected to their university. In fact, a study published in Research in Higher Education showed that 35% of students are less likely to leave after their first year than similar students not enrolled in a learning community.

Converting Legacy Halls to Living-Learning

The idea of living-learning communities or residential colleges need not apply to new construction only. In fact, KSQ has successfully converted aging, 60s-era buildings into vibrant, modern living-learning residence halls to help facilitate current programming and curriculum.

This rarely used basement was transformed as part of a renovation to convert a legacy residence hall into a living-learning community for Baylor University.

Today the basement provides a wealth of multifunctionality, from classroom and study spaces to this active recreational space as well as a fitness room.

Integrating living/learning communities or a residential college model into an existing hall offers a unique opportunity for housing to play an important role in how many students learn today. Discovering areas to add faculty-in-residence apartments, classrooms and study rooms while minimizing bed loss is a creative programming exercise for which an experienced student housing firm can assist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 Steps to a Successful School Bond Campaign

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Managing a public school bond campaign is a challenging undertaking with many moving parts. A successful campaign requires the ability of the district to create, communicate, and excite the community with visions of the future while balancing the realities of a potential tax increase for voters. Ultimately, a successful school bond campaign educates voters so they understand and accept benefits outweigh costs. The challenge most districts face is how to shift the conversations from brick and mortar to values and beliefs.

 

 

 

We’ve worked with school districts for decades, helping them lay the foundation for success when it comes to stakeholder support. In our experience, five key factors can make or break the bond effort for your district and the students you serve.

  1. Invest in the power of partnerships. Schools that thrive find ways to create symbiotic relationships with the community—from nonprofits and corporations to leaders in City Hall. These communities need strong schools to recruit talented staff, bring new companies to town and educate tomorrow’s workforce with the skills that will be needed for tomorrow’s jobs. When preparing for the future—whether investments are needed in technology, buildings or transportation­­­­­–these partnerships can lend a hand to the planning process. For example, a district with aging buildings that no longer meet the needs of enrollment and/or curriculum requirements is wise to engage professionals from the design and construction industry to help conduct facility assessments, identify associated costs and schedule for renovation or demolition. They can also review any demographic analysis or other studies conducted that may inform what facilities the district may need in the next decade. Professionals are often willing to provide a certain range of services at very little cost to help the district create the plan, with no guarantee of future paid work. It’s part of being a good community partner and working together to achieve the big picture.

    KSQ’s ‘Building Blocks 101’ Lego class is one way we engage with our local districts–companies investing their time and talent in schools is a great way to garner community support.

  2. Get the collegiate perspective. With the landscape of higher education ever changing and the needs and demands for student skills always evolving, school district leaders are wise to gather input from local and state higher education administrators to find out what makes for a prepared college student. Community colleges, technical schools and traditional four-year universities all look for key knowledge, traits and skill sets in incoming students—both hard and soft skills that are needed for success in post-secondary education and the world beyond. How their input can impact learning in the K-12 sector is something to consider.

    With an eye toward the future, this study lounge for a public high school in Oklahoma is part of a program to prepare students to test, apply and prepare for college.

  3. Hone your message. Once your district has a plan for a proposed package, you need to communicate the vision. Elevate the conversation above laptops, buses or brick buildings to the larger goal—the values and beliefs your district wants to improve upon. Is it student safety? 21st century learning? Life-long wellness? Or simply getting students out of portables? Communicating how the bond package underscores those type of core values reinforces a mission-driven approach that’s hard to vote against.
  4. Enlist some cheerleaders. Once you’ve identified your themes and have something for everyone to believe in, your district needs to not only communicate the what of the campaign but also the why of your campaign. If you’ve engage with local design professionals as you plan the bond, you’ll also have an array of conceptual images that help generate excitement and make the vision come to life. Armed with the what, the why and those illustrations, your district cheerleaders are ready to talk to a variety of stakeholders—parents, teachers, city leaders, business owners, the media and other key groups like local building contractors, parts and materials suppliers, and school equipment vendors. Think beyond school board meetings to connecting directly with local centers of influence. Small dinners, luncheons and one-one meetings with influential members of the community allow your leadership team to answer questions and get them on board in support of the vote so they can become your advocates.
  5. Celebrate and share your success. If your bond effort was successful, thank your stakeholders, cheerleaders and advocates who made it possible. Throw a district party—you’ve earned it! You have a great story now to tell—and likely quite a few lessons learned along the way. Publicize ground breakings and ribbon cuttings. Share your experience with others through an article, award submission, presentation at a school board conference or similar event. Pay it forward by sharing what you know and further cement your district’s reputation as a thought leader in advancing education­–and thereby setting your team up for success for the next time the district needs to garner public support.

* Editor’s Note:

KSQ NY Principal Scott Hillje and KSQ Charlotte Principal Doug Burns have led the firm’s effort to help local districts pass significant bond efforts. You can contact them for more information at shillje@ksq.design or dburns@ksq.design.

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Jenks High School Dining Hall: Serving Up Campus Community

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Situation
The existing Jenks High School Central Campus Cafeteria was no longer adequate for its 1,500 students, lunchtime operations were stressful, and there wasn’t enough seating for existing and incoming students. KSQ Design initially was selected to help Jenks develop a program for renovating and expanding the facility; however, a thoughtful evaluation determined that the existing structure had reached its useful life span and it was more cost effective to build a new 35,000 SF cafeteria on the existing site, while also providing smoother operations, wayfinding and facility management throughout the process.

Temporary Accommodations

Taking down the existing cafeteria for a full school year also meant creating a makeshift dining venue. KSQ created an imaginative solution to meet the client’s needs by utilizing a nearby practice gymnasium which had a concession stand only needing minor modifications to function as a temporary kitchen. The team created separate programming for the temporary space, worked with the Department of Health to ensure quality and logistics, and had kitchen equipment and appliances inventoried and prepped for relocation.

Front and Center Location

The location of the existing cafeteria was in the middle of campus near the main entrance and bus drop off. The design team immediately saw an opportunity to take advantage of the site’s location, and opted to drop the entrance back 30-40 feet to allow for better pedestrian circulation in front, enhanced by a grand portico entry. Increasing the new building’s height also gave it a strong presence that will ultimately boost the potential for use by the community.

Upscale Student Dining

In keeping with high school design trends seen nationally, particularly in larger districts, the idea emerged that this wouldn’t be just a cafeteria. It would be a true dining hall, similar to the types of sophisticated collegiate dining venues KSQ creates for universities across the country. A variety of seating is in the grand dining room where one enters the building, with the servery located in the back of the room. An oversized wall graphic of the school’s Trojan mascot head is on an axis with the entry and emphasizes the strong identity and school pride at Jenks. The building’s shape itself was likened to puzzle pieces that fit together—the design team even took a series of manipulative puzzles to a client meeting to illustrate the idea of building components coming together in this fashion. The contemporary design language blends well with that of surrounding campus buildings, including a language of cantilevers which will serve as cover for outside dining areas.

“The new dining hall will not only serve as a fantastic facility for our students, but it will be a place for our entire community to gather,” stated Dr. Stacey Butterfield, Superintendent of Jenks Public Schools. “None of this would be possible without the hard work of our construction partners or without the vision of our administrators, child nutrition employees, and our teachers. Thanks to the support of our parents and patrons, we are able to create modern, functional spaces like this one which will serve our students for many decades.”

Jenks’ Trojan mascot becomes an oversized wall graphic in the large dining area. Reinforcing the strong sense of school pride was a key priority for the design team.

The ribbon cutting on August 15 celebrated a new dining hall with child nutrition staff front and center.

Teamwork Made the Dream Work.

Right from the kick-off meeting, the project team utilized an integrated project delivery process which brought the contractor into the process from the beginning. The team also toured similar facilities in Texas to gain inspiration and included child nutrition and students in the planning effort. The result is a kitchen that functions as beautifully as the building’s aesthetics, and a team that worked together with only one RFI (request for information), an unheard-of achievement on most construction projects.

“This has been an incredibly successful project from all facets,” said KSQ Design Managing Partner David W. Short, AIA. “The collaboration and teamwork between the client and design team resulted in only one RFI (Request for Information), a project that came in under budget and with great client satisfaction. The student reactions say it all—this is a dining hall similar to what we often design for universities, so it’s a big step up from what is typical for a high school.”

 

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CU Boulder--North Approach
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NEW DINING HALL CREATES HUB OF STUDENT COMMUNITY

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Food brings students together–so do breathtaking views. At the University of Colorado Boulder, campus leaders combine these two magnets to create the new Village Center-Dining & Community Commons, a multifaceted project with views of the Flatiron Mountains designed to create a much-needed space for students to come home to in Williams Village. A short fifteen minute walk from the main campus, Williams Village offers an existing tight-knit community but lacks a modern dining facility, student service spaces, and a place for students to claim as their own. KSQ was given the unique opportunity to participate in bringing about the realization of the village model and designing its symbolic heart and center piece.

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Spotlight: KSQ’s Design for 25 Greek Chapter Houses at TCU

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Student Housing Business shared the first project images for the 25 Greek chapter houses KSQ has designed for the Worth Hills Village development on the Texas Christian University (TCU) campus. The new home for 25 TCU fraternity and sorority chapters will be within 11 buildings and complement the Multipurpose Dining Hall and three upper class residence halls KSQ has completed over the last two years in the development. The designs reveal a Greek Village within Worth Hills comprised of a series of small, interconnected buildings in a park-like setting with features that create community and embrace Greek culture and ceremony.

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5 Favorite Features: OSU University Commons

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University Commons is the newest housing project on the Oklahoma State University (OSU) campus consisting of three KSQ designed residence halls in an adapted traditional layout. The buildings house more than 900 students, have a modified Georgian exterior, and are united by a grand pedestrian quad. We asked members of our interior design team to share their favorite features from the project, and their responses offer insight into the design intent and how great design helps build campus community.

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Reclaiming the Res Hall: A Student Housing Before & After Story

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Colby Hall is an all-female residence hall built in 1957 and KSQ’s latest completed project at Texas Christian University (TCU). The project was completed in time for students to return to the building this fall and they’ve quickly created a new Colby community in the hall. But getting them there required a complete gutting of the building and taking the space from 1957 to 2015 in student life design. Here’s how our team did it:

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Throwback: Student Housing at University of Colorado Boulder

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Last week on the University of Colorado Boulder campus we witnessed the demolition of the Darley Commons  to create space for the new Village Center Dining and Community Commons building (KSQ’s current project on the CU Boulder campus). It was definitely a moment to pause and reflect on the history of the campus (Darley was built in 1969), and it inspired us to create this throwback blog to our first project with CU Boulder and share unseen images from the project. Join us as we throw it back three years ago to the award-winning Kittredge Complex student housing project.

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KSQ Selected as Lead Design Firm for New Community Wellness and Health Innovation Hub at WCU

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Western Carolina University (WCU) is adding a second building to its 344-acre Millennial Campus near Cullowhee, North Carolina. The project is part of WCU’s Millennial Initiative and the space allows WCU faculty and staff to partner and collaborate with private firms, government agencies and non-profits, and to create and enhance economic development in the region. KSQ’s Charlotte office is leading the project which fuses higher education and healthcare design. Here’s a video tour of the design:

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This Multipurpose Dining Hall Knows How to Multi-task

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The KSQ designed Multipurpose Dining Hall is now open on the Texas Christian University (TCU) campus, and the 39,200 SF building takes its “multipurpose” title seriously. The space offers multiple dining platforms, an outdoor amphitheater, Greek Life offices, meeting spaces and multiple areas to study, socialize, watch TV or recharge-one’s self or one’s electronic devices. It’s just the “multipurpose” needed for today’s busy college student.

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When My Worlds Collide: Returning to High School with a Different Perspective

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I wasn’t overly fond of high school. I was painfully shy, my world was small, and cell phones didn’t exist so I couldn’t hide behind my phone scrolling through social media. Recently, I returned to my high school campus, and instead of being the reluctant, shy student I once was, I was the confident professional supporting Kingston High School both as a 1982 graduate and as a team member from KSQ–the firm chosen for a comprehensive and historic re-imaging of the school’s 100-year old campus.

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Addition to elementary school makes an entrance.

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A new addition to an elementary school in South Carolina creates a dramatic entrance for parents and students, centralizes administrative offices and creates much-needed classroom spaces.

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The old stomping grounds: Senior living trend takes us back to campus.

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As (my) Baby Boomer generation inches closer and closer to both retirement and our “golden years” of a senior lifestyle, more and more of this generation are seeking an intellectually stimulating lifestyle where we can engage in multigenerational experiences and events sponsored by our alma mater such as university courses, lectures, art exhibits, music performances as well as football and basketball games. Active seniors often choose to reside in a university-based retirement community that provides the vitality and energy associated with campus life. Who can blame them?

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If you build it, they will swim: World Class K12 Aquatic Center funded by bond

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Votes area being cast this month and next on Oklahoma K12 bond issues, and this has us reflecting on KSQ projects that wouldn’t have been possible without bond funding. For example, The Jenks Trojan Aquatic Center was made possible by a 2009 bond issue and KSQ, SHW Group and Flintco completed the project in 2011. Since the new center opened it has expanded the school’s team, doubled in community swimmers, hosted an NCAA meet and will host Olympic hopefuls next month during the Speedo Champions Series Central Section Region VIII Championship. It’s a center that parents requested and bond money made possible. Look back with us and see how we gave the school’s highly competitive swimming program an aquatic center worthy of its long tradition of swimming excellence and a school facility with a reputation:

“One word of caution about swimming here though is that it will spoil all your other pool experiences because the pool here is truly world class.” ~ Ramblen travel guide

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Residential college model the focus here at SMU

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Student housing on a grand scale is the defining characteristic of the new Residential & Dining Commons at Southern Methodist University. The sheer scope of the project—1,250 beds in five residence halls, a 500-seat dining commons and an 800-car parking structure – is massive, even by Texas standards. But the detailed Georgian-style architecture paired with high-quality materials, including slate roofing, brick and high-performance glass also contribute to the impressive nature of this project that opened to students in August.

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Rye Science Wing at Rye High School
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New science wing fit for wizards (and Muggles)

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Our latest K12 school unveiling happened recently at Rye High School in Rye, NY, one of the top public high schools in the nation. This science wing addition was showcased last weekend during a ribbon cutting and ceremonial opening (complete with a performance by the school’s string quartet, student-led tours of the new science wing and classroom demonstrations by the science teachers – a really comprehensive affair!). KSQ Principal Armand Quadrini, AIA, LEED AP, also learned at the event that many parents and students in the school district are referring to KSQ’s latest K-12 design as “Hogwarts.” Not a bad comparison, we’d say.

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Daylighting helps students make the grade

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guest post by Bob Ford, President & CEO, SerraLux

Daylighting In Schools
We want what’s best for our kids, right? One way my own kids revitalize during the long school day is by having their all-important recess breaks. At recess, they go outside and move their bodies in tune with nature, taking in fresh air and sunshine. When I ask them what is their favorite class, “recess” is always their answer! So I figure, why limit the “feel good” benefits to the outdoors? Let’s bring some nature into the classroom and let our kids feel the benefits throughout the day.

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Why our buildings must balance connections with people, technology

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Not long ago I visited a museum that was advertised as highly interactive. And interactive it was. One could hear the words of history from the participants themselves. Technology was brought to life through video, touch screens and “intelligent tables.” I found myself presented with a history that I never knew, and reinforcement of history that I was already familiar with. In the three hours that I spent there, I learned a lot. But only later when I discussed my experience with the other people in our group did that knowledge truly come to life and deepen my understanding.

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