Thank you to the City of Tulsa, the Downtown Coordinating Council, and other community partners for putting on this awesome event! We are looking forward to 2020.more
Student housing has evolved significantly in the last generation, and campuses are more aware than ever of the growing discrepancy between contemporary new facilities and their older, more traditional stock. As they examine the challenge of facility updates, many housing administrators are daunted by construction expense, schedule, and disruption in bed count. And while they know, inherently, that more capacity is needed, the point may be difficult to argue to university administrators. What kind of housing do we need? Is our current model the right mix? Would upper-division students really return to campus if we had the capacity? How could we handle bed loss if we must take a hall offline for renovations?
At KSQ, our team has helped many campuses answer these questions with a Housing Master Plan. Many universities use campus master planning to strategize growth, but these broad-scope documents don’t always include plans specific to housing development. Fewer still include the steps needed to schedule, phase, and fund housing construction or renovation.
What Is A Housing Master Plan?
A Housing Master Plan is a long-range planning document – typically covering a 10- to 15-year period – that provides a roadmap for programmatic and physical changes to enhance housing, as well as residential and campus life. It typically includes the following kinds of information to guide the University in reinvesting in its housing system over the plan period:
- Target populations to house, and preferred types of housing (unit types, mix and number) to accommodate those populations.
- Assessment of existing physical conditions and recommendations for renovations to address deferred maintenance / capital renewal and, as necessary, to modernize and upgrade buildings to make them suitable for the next decade and beyond.
- Recommendations for new housing to address any current or anticipated deficiencies in inventory.
- Recommendations for other enhancements to campus housing, and to residential life programming to create a more vibrant and engaging on-campus experience.
- Financial requirements to implement changes called out in the Housing Master Plan.
A housing planner can also examine the off-campus market to determine availability and pricing of current options and compare those findings with on-campus housing options for best compatibility and most fair and effective pricing.
Why Does My Campus Need One?
If your campus experiences a significant change in enrollment, on-campus residents, housing inventory, or administrative philosophy, it might be time for a housing master plan:
- Is there a change in enrollment? A larger student body might require more housing. A drop in enrollment might be influenced by a housing inventory that isn’t competing with peer institutions.
- Is there a wide range of housing conditions? The contrast between new facilities and older ones might create the perception of “haves” and “have-nots” on campus. A housing master plan can create a strategy for renovations that provide a rich university experience across a range of student budgets.
- Are residents satisfied with their housing experience? A housing master plan can reveal a program’s strengths and weaknesses, and provide guidance for improving the overall program. Further, it can introduce trends in residential life that attract and retain the current generation of students.
- Is there a change in philosophy from campus leadership? If administrators want to achieve tier-one status within the state, or create a residential campus, a housing master plan can identify best strategies to achieve new residential goals.
How is the Plan Developed?
Developing a successful Housing Master Plan usually involves a multi-step process:
- Market Research – the team conducts interviews, focus groups, and surveys to gather comprehensive data on current housing conditions. This information is concrete, gathering students’ ages, years in college, academic majors, etc. It is also abstract, examining what students like and don’t like about their current housing arrangements. The planning team compares these findings with similar information gathered from peer institutions, as well as the local off-campus housing market.
- Facilities Assessment – the team reviews existing residence halls and dining facilities to inform recommendations for upgrades. These recommendations range from programmatic needs for social and study spaces, to structural and code-required upgrades necessary for occupancy.
- Development of a Housing Program – the final document includes an overall goal for the amount, types, and locations of housing needed on campus, in comparison to the current inventory.
- Financial Modeling – the team examines existing revenue and expense information, along with construction cost estimates, to create different budgeting scenarios for future construction and renovation projects.
A recent exercise at the University of North Texas revealed a vibrant and loyal residential community. It also uncovered many opportunities to improve student experience through facility upgrades. And although the campus administrators understood the team’s recommendations, they were concerned with losing capacity during significant renovation projects. Moreover, administrators were unsure of the best way to fund construction, balancing resources on hand with assuming too much debt.
The planning team developed two interactive documents that proved valuable to campus users. The first was a phasing schedule, listing bed counts for each hall, before and after construction and recommended renovations. With this tool, end users can explore different phasing options to determine a logical order for projects. Bringing a new hall online at the same time another is closed for updates minimizes bed loss. Similarly, the schedule can be reconfigured to avoid excessive construction in a single area of campus.
The second document is an interactive budgeting tool. With it, campus users can explore different funding scenarios for projects, to see the financial impacts of, for example, a slightly different interest rate, or an adjustment in room rates. Users can also adjust debt-to-cash ratios in their hypothetical budgets to determine best scenarios for affordability.
What Else Should I Know?
Effective planning is comprehensive. A strong planning team will need to meet with representatives from Student Affairs, Facilities, Transportation, Budget, Dining, and Admissions – just to name a few critical departments. It’s also quite common to begin a discussion with one department and identify three more to provide valuable information.
Effective planning takes time. It’s not unusual for a comprehensive Housing Master Plan to develop over the course of an academic year, but this process can be impacted profoundly by schedule organization among all the different stakeholders. Information comes from a range of campus departments, represented by very busy people. Scheduling these people separately is difficult, and scheduling them all together is very difficult!
At the end of the process, a strong housing master plan will provide guidance for development to take your campus through the next several years – and provide the richest student experience possible.
Our team recently had the opportunity to present our latest project for Stony Brook University at the annual ACPA conference held in Houston March 11-14. Not only did we showcase the story of the new LGBTQ* Center on the SBU campus, we were joined by Dr. Robert Schoenberg, the recently retired director of the Penn LGBT Center at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the very first centers like this in the nation.
The presentation also covered the history of LGBTQ Centers on university campuses. An interesting fact is that only six percent of colleges and universities currently have an LGBTQ center on their campus, adding up to approximately 246 such centers in all. We gave attendees some critical factors to consider if they are planning one for their campus:
Keys to Creating an LGBTQ Center on Your Campus:
- Consider your campus context: is it more liberal or conservative? Limited or accessible funding?
- Can you identify a campus champion? Finding and empowering the right person is key to gaining momentum.
- Do you understand the planning process? Talking with architects or other institutions who have launched successful centers will give your team an idea of what to expect.
- What are your cultural goals? What culture do you want to create? Stating your mission, vision and values is key to helping guide the process.
- What are your programmatic goals? What types of activity do you envision for the space?
- Can you enlist outside experts? Hiring a planner and/or architect is often needed to bring your vision to reality.
KSQ’s design team created a concept called “the nest” to guide decisions for the Stony Brook space. A feeling of warmth, acceptance, safety and home were some of the guiding principles.
At Stony Brook, a former 2,400 square-foot dining space provides a visible presence and a central location for LGBTQ and other groups to connect with peers, mentors and the services and resources available at SBU. A student lounge, individual and group study, social, lecture and meeting spaces as well as offices and gender-neutral restroom facilities are included in the new space that opened in early March 2018.
Our team was honored to be part of the process of creating a new home for the vibrant LGBTQ community at Stony Brook University. We know how much impact a space can have on creating and fostering community–it’s why we do what we do!more
Current student housing trends indicate that more basic, affordable housing is back at the top of demand for value-conscious students. That’s great news all around, and not simply for the reduction of student debt. Major news outlets like The Atlantic have also conveyed interesting stories on the new trend towards a back-to-basics student housing approach and why it’s catching on from coast to coast.
Construction cost. During the early 2000’s and recession, campuses enjoyed low interest rates and even lower construction costs. At the same time, many families discovered that they could purchase devalued and foreclosed homes near campus, for affordable housing and potential returns after their students left college. Most universities’ construction rush included luxury amenities – such as recreational pools, climbing walls, fitness facilities, and gaming spaces – to attract students back to campus. Today, facility costs per square foot are back on the rise. Expanding campuses now find that luxe amenities of the last decade simply don’t fit in this year’s construction budget.
Maintenance cost. Even after the building is complete, it costs more to heat, cool, light, and clean those amenity spaces, too. Removing superfluous building area reduces its maintenance budget, not just the initial construction cost. And, of course, amenity spaces are generally non-revenue-generating, so reducing those spaces preserves more of a building’s revenue stream for covering debt service and other fixed expenses.
Student Experience. The newest wave of students is more academically focused than their early-2000s counterparts. Even in off-campus, student-specific apartments, developers notice that lounges remain empty until they replace the pool and foosball tables with printers, data connections, and large tables for groups to work. One theory postulates that the newest college-goers are among the first offspring of Generation X, the cynical latchkey kids who still see merit in their college days of Punk and Grunge, and who know the challenge of graduating into a recession with college debt. They don’t mind putting their students in smaller, more cost-effective rooms. From a design point of view, the trend toward smaller student units allows for more square footage in common areas, encouraging students to leave their rooms and socialize in ways other than Snap Chat. Traditional style efficiency is not just affordable – it builds community, social skills, and grit among its residents.
The Next Generation of Traditional. While community style housing enjoys a renaissance, it also has a fresh look. Bathrooms are smaller, to serve banks of four to six rooms at a time. New designs and new thinking about bathroom layouts include individual shower spaces, with dressing areas and lockable doors, to protect student privacy. Even community-style bathrooms are getting a fresh look – disaggregating “public functions” around sink areas (e.g., brushing teeth, combing hair), from the private functions of showering and toileting in enclosed stalls. This approach facilitates community around daily grooming functions while providing all students with the necessary privacy, addressing interests in gender neutral facilities, etc. Lounge and study spaces are much more prevalent, with a young, contemporary flair to invite students to socialize. Some facilities intentionally provide stronger wireless signals in public spaces than in student rooms, specifically to encourage activity there. “Community Kitchens” have evolved into large, lively gathering areas for groups to convene and cook together. Finally, corridor space itself is construed to allow for gradual interaction, with small areas for apprehensive or shy students to sit and observe larger group activities before joining in.
Today’s incoming freshman and their parents are more aware of rising college costs than perhaps ever before. Universities are responding with options that allow students of all means to find comfortable housing solutions—with the pared-down housing (both new and renovation) often becoming the rooms in highest demand on campus.more
Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology (OSUIT) is known for world-class academic instruction, a nearly 100% career placement rate and their partnerships with both industry and the community. In an effort to improve its campus community–while also supporting the growth of downtown Okmulgee, OK, OSUIT purchased two connecting buildings on the northeast corner of Grand Avenue and Fifth Street in historic downtown Okmulgee. The buildings were transformed by KSQ Design and Sikes Abernathie Architects (SAA) into 11 loft-style and 26 flat-style apartments offered as an off-campus living option for up to 76 students.
KSQ and SAA’s design features high ceilings on the main floor and 11 loft-style living spaces with two bedrooms upstairs and a bathroom, kitchen and living room downstairs. The first level also offers seven loft-style apartments. The design includes light wells cutting into the building to provide natural light for the units and individual bedrooms, an outdoor patio area, a lobby with nooks, community kitchen and laundry, a lounge and an office and living suite for an on-site manager. The design for the second floor features flat-style apartment homes with living rooms, two bedrooms, a bathroom and one unit that has four bedrooms.
Like most renovations, this one presented unique challenges and opportunities for the design team. These “before” photos give you an idea of the state of the building when our team got ahold of it (click “show thumbnails” to advance through the slideshows, below).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 has led efforts to help school districts pass significant bond efforts. You can contact us for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.”
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.”
Our passion for education and community outreach was ignited recently when our Tulsa office was asked to visit the Educare Pre-K classroom at Hawthorne Elementary in Tulsa Public Schools and talk about design inspiration as part of their architecture unit. Heather Miller from marketing and Adriana Vadasz from the interior design team were a great fit–bringing both a love of children and design talent to brighten their day and expand their young minds to what’s possible. Iggy Peck, Architect, one of our favorite children’s books, was the kickoff to our lesson.
October 31st is a big day at KSQ–as designers, we love any opportunity for creativity! From popular TV shows to puns and horror flicks, our architects, interior designers, engineers and support staff brought their best effort for our annual costume contest. Here’s how it all shook out.
Most Creative–AND Best All Around Costume.
Best Couple Costume.
Best Group Costume.
Best Office Costume.
Fun with Puns.
Talk of Texas.
Napoleon Dynamite Flashback.
See you next year!
Can good design make 8th grade math more exciting? We think it does, and knowing what tough critics middle schoolers can be made this year’s Project Classroom makeover challenge even more fun. One of the most gratifying projects we complete every year, this mini makeover of a public school classroom for a deserving teacher uses all aspects of our project management–from planning and design through construction.
After selecting Ms. Emily Partridge, an 8th grade algebra teacher at East Central Junior High in Tulsa as our 2016 recipient, our team of volunteers met with her in July to learn about how she uses the room, her wish list for the space and color preferences. Here’s what the classroom looked like before we got a hold of it.
After three months of planning, our team (along with partners Cyntergy AEC and Wallace Engineering) took over the room for the weekend to breathe new life into the equation, so to speak. Our favorite part is the big “reveal” on Monday morning, when Ms. Partridge and her students saw the room for the first time.
Our approach was a collegiate theme, inspired by Ms. Partridge telling us how she encourages her students to think beyond high school. A chalkboard wall was our solution when she mentioned how much they like writable surfaces.
We look forward to Project Classroom every year–making a difference for students is why we do what we do at KSQ.more
Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens in Charlotte, North Carolina, is hosting WEE HOUSE 2016: Places We Play. The interactive exhibit celebrates the places where we play and offers twelve unique structures designed by local creatives; including KSQ designer Stefan Pinherio.more
Healing Gardens are an important design component in best-in-class senior living communities, and this isn’t surprising considering their ability to provide social, psychological, emotional, physical and spiritual benefits to senior residents and staff. People of all ages and cultures find nature restorative, and Roger Ulrich, a leading researcher in healing gardens explains why:more
K12 outreach is a passion at KSQ Design and recognized as a direct way for us to give back to our communities and get to know our clients and end users better. We consider it a bonus when there’s a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) angle, since supporting STEM efforts also supports our industry and protects its future. We were lucky enough to have a chance to support STEM education recently when we hosted educators in our Charlotte office and students in our Tulsa office.more
KSQ Design is pleased to announce the “topping out” of the Salzmann building at Kingston High School–a milestone in the firm’s expansion and remodel of the Kingston Central School District (KCSD). The Topping Out ceremony was attended by representatives of KCSD, KSQ and our project partner BBL Construction who all signed their names on the steel beam as a symbolic gesture.
Adriana Vadasz joined KSQ’s interior design team in 2012 and was the 2015 recipient of KSQ’s Tulsa office “KSQ’est” (similar to MVP of the year). In addition to her interior design work she has also provided landscape design concepts to KSQ clients as added value. KSQ Associate Jon Pontious, Assoc. AIA, recently sat down with Adriana to ask her about combining her studies in interiors and landscape, and how she’s applied this knowledge to KSQ projects. Jon and Adriana have worked on projects together since college when they were both employed by Oklahoma State University’s Long Range Facilities Planning, and since joining KSQ they’ve worked on numerous student housing projects together.more
I’ve just returned from Neocon–a three day interior design conference attended by over 50,000 design professionals–and stepped back to determine the five biggest trends I saw on display from over 500 different companies at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.more