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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:

Renovating
The renovation of Colby Hall started in May 2014 when students moved out at the end of the spring semester and the team removed everything but exterior walls, columns, and the elevator shaft. The design team wanted to take the “built in 1957” vibe out of the building and no longer have Colby residents say “but, it’s retro” as a way to justify their dated living quarters. Besides needing modernization, Colby needed to be brought up to code and have a new design that offers more natural light and creates interaction and social opportunities for residents.

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Reactivating
The main entrance of Colby was redesigned to offer students a more direct path. The new entrance has a front, central monumental staircase set against a low, landscaped wall with bike ramps at the street level sidewalk. The top of the staircase has an accessibility ramp offering quick access to the front door and to the sidewalk leading toward academic buildings.

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Interior stairs were relocated to the north end of the building. Study lounges were placed at the end of the hall bringing natural light to the corridors.

One of the study lounges located on a residence floor. Each floor offers a different color scheme and common areas have a color scheme focused on TCU's school colors.

One of the study lounges located on a residence floor. Each floor offers a different color scheme and the main level has a color scheme focused on TCU’s school colors.

Renewing
Colby Hall is now a LEED Gold building and third-party certified for its energy and resource-efficient design and construction measures. The project received the highest points possible for its innovation and leed design process, green power, building reuse and construction waste management, and use of recycled content. KSQ and our construction management partner Beck Group made sustainability decisions that also positively affect students on a daily basis such as thermal comfort, low-emitting materials, public transportation access, ventilation, and daylighting. Recycling inside Colby is easy with well-placed recycling containers throughout the hall.

Reclaiming
If real estate is all about “location, location, location” Colby Hall is prime real estate on the TCU campus. The over 70,000 SF hall is located across from Brown-Lupton University Union (BLUU), and close to the football stadium and Campus Commons. It was, however, missing a great first impression to complement its prime location. Visitors and residents previously enter a dated, drab main lobby when they first walked into Colby, but now the main entrance opens up to a light-filled lobby with recessed lighting, intimate seating arrangements and a study nook with a frosted channel glass wall providing privacy from the exterior hallway. The front desk is centrally located and right across from the elevators. The furnishings are both traditional and modern.

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The renovation has resulted in a change in how students view the hall and it has renewed popularity since the renovation. Hall Director Jennifer Sepulveda told TCU Magazine, “It’s definitely a privilege to be part of reopening Colby Hall. It’s a cool space and a welcoming community.”

Residents leave bedroom doors open to help foster community in this all-female hall and are known for creating a sisterhood environment and taking care of each other. They are also known for taking pride in their rooms and the entire hall.

Colby Hall room photo by Amy Peterson. Social Media Specialist, TCU

Colby Hall room photo by Amy Peterson, New Media Specialist, TCU

Renaming
The lower level was once referred to as a “concrete dungeon” since it was a dark, raw space that only housed storage cages and laundry appliances. After the renovation the students renamed it “Colby Cove” and it’s now a favorite space for residents. “Colby Cove” has comfortable furniture and spaces for socializing and studying. It also has updated laundry facilities, vending, a kitchenette, and bathrooms. One of the student’s favorite spaces in the lower level is the theater room with a 90-inch television, stadium seating for 25 and surround sound. The residents have already hosted movie and award show watch parties in this coveted space.

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Reinventing
When Sepulveda was asked about KSQ’s renovation she told TCU Magazine, “The spaces they added from what Colby was prior to what it is now is really cool… We have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves. What traditions will we keep? What new ones will we make? It’s going to be fun seeing what our culture is, and what we’re going to be known as. We’re unique in that we’re the only all-female hall.”

The renovation of TCU’s only all-female hall was led by KSQ Associate and Project Manager, Lindsay Reeds. Lindsay has been the project manager for previous renovations at TCU and is the currently managing the Worth Hills Village development on campus.

Lindsay Reeds, LEED AP, KSQ Associate and Project Manager (2nd from left) meeting with TCU and team.

Lindsay Reeds, LEED AP, KSQ Associate and Project Manager (2nd from left) meeting with TCU and the project team.

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