IRVINE, CA. - With the recent surge in student housing construction, thought-leader David Senden, principal with award-winning national architecture and planning firm KTGY Group, Inc., offers his insights on the topic. "Student housing is not simply targeted market rate apartments and any apartment developer thinking of jumping into this arena has to understand that not only is the 'lingo' different (we talk about beds, and not units), but designing for people who you know will move out after nine months, or for people who will have roommates that they may not even know, is a very different process," said Senden.
"It means considering everything from how the common wall between rooms is constructed in order to ensure privacy to how several individuals share a pantry. How should you heat hot water, if four people will be getting ready for the day at the same time, each in their own bathroom? It’s just different. And, that’s just the unit," Senden noted.
"Designing housing for students can be challenging. Aesthetically, you want it to feel fresh and forward looking, like the population it serves. The problem is: it needs to serve generations of students and the myriad of changes in taste and preference that accompany them from year to year," Senden said.
"It’s important that even though you are designing for students, the buildings don’t look childish. Today’s students are worldlier and more design savvy than ever before. The focus is less is more; simple, clean, adaptable, and, ultimately, timeless. Not timeless in the sense of fitting into some historic mold, but timeless in a way that it’s not trendy or edgy or filled with the fad of the moment; on the outside that is," Senden said.
"In this way, we borrow a lot from hospitality design," said Senden. "The exteriors, which are not easily changed, are simple and straightforward with a few flourishes that can be changed with the times. On the interior, we assume a remodel every few years. Students are going to wear it out anyway. So, the furnishings, technology, paint, and interior materials will push boundaries. They’ll be fun, of the moment and offer the latest in connectivity and comfort," said Senden.
Students go to college for the learning but equally as important is the collegiate "experience," Senden reports. "We want to create an environment for the students that allows them to have the best possible social experience in a setting that is safe and still fosters an academic mission. It needs to speak to the students' sense of fun and adventure, but also to the parents' sense of practicality, security, and pocketbook," Senden noted.
Senden adds that well programmed amenity spaces are critical. "We want the student amenity spaces to offer a variety of experiences and levels of community. A ground floor amenity creates the opportunity for the residents to be a part of the larger community and opens the door for that interaction and integration to occur with a visual and physical connection to the street and nearby campus," said Senden.
He suggests a rooftop amenity for the students. "Incorporating a rooftop pool deck is a more private area for the residents and guests and offers indoor/outdoor spaces for them to gather and form their own community within the building, while still maintaining visual connectivity to the campus," Senden described. "In addition to the pool, the rooftop deck offers lounge spaces, fire pit chat areas, an expansive sun deck and fitness facilities."
Always with an eye to making great places and beautiful buildings, Senden's design approach is collaborative with emphasis placed on context, innovation, and special attention to each client’s goals, budget, and schedule. As a principal at KTGY, he leads a talented team of designers skilled in large scale residential and mixed-use projects. In addition to his involvement in a series of award-winning projects, Senden is a regular speaker at industry events, as well as a critic at numerous colleges and universities.
Senden will be speaking at the RealShare Apartments 2013 Conference on October 24, 2013, at the 10:45 am session, "Student Housing: The New Kid on the Block," held at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, Calif. RealShare Apartments Conference is part of the RealShare Conference Series and is sponsored by ALM's Real Estate Media Group, which includes GlobeSt.com and Real Estate Forum magazine.
Celebrating 21 years, KTGY Group, Inc., Architecture and Planning, is a national award-winning firm providing comprehensive planning and award-winning architectural design services for residential communities, retail, hospitality, mixed-use and related specialty developments. KTGY delivers innovative solutions that reflect clear understanding of development, market trends and financial performance. Serving clients worldwide, KTGY maintains offices in Irvine, Oakland and Santa Monica, Calif., Denver, Colo., and Tysons, Va.