Campus Life Facilities

Universities and colleges are experiencing growth and pressure on existing aging facilities. This occurs at a time when funding from both government sources and endowments is decreasing. Students also have higher expectations for the facilities, resources, and amenities; the perceived quality of residence halls, dining facilities, student unions and recreational facilities can be important factors in a student’s school choice.
At the same time, many of these facilities are auxiliaries, which must be self-funding either via direct revenue or through student fees. Facilities must not only be attractive and desirable but also economical.


Since residence halls and student commons are 24 hours a day 7 day a week facilities (even during summer break quality facilities are used for hosting conferences), many energy saving features can be incorporated into the design that produces an attractive lifecycle payback. Energy recovery units, where heat is captured in or from the building exhaust and used to precondition the outside ventilation air, significantly reduce energy usage. Additionally, when used as part of a dedicated outside air system, these energy recovery systems greatly improve humidity control, making the indoor air environment more comfortable even at higher temperatures and reducing the potential for problems associated with high humidity such as mold.


The tremendous water usage in residence halls provides several opportunities to reduce costs. Urinals are available that use 1/8th of the water previous models used. Toilets use half the flow and are available with dual flushing to further increase water savings. Sensor faucets improve cleanliness and also reduce water usage. Water from either captured rainwater or drainage from lavatories and showers can be filtered, treated, dyed and reused for nonpotable toilet flushing, significantly reducing water usage. Solar water heating can provide a significant portion of the hot water for a facility. These types of systems can provide real savings as well as a sustainable living environment, which is highly prized by today’s students.


Advancements in lighting technology including solid state luminaires (LED), as well as evolving standards and continued improvements in fluorescent lamps, ballasts, and lighting controls, have combined to make basic lighting design for residence halls and academic buildings significantly more efficient than that of just ten years ago. Energy savings for lighting and the HVAC to remove the associated heat can be dramatic. When coupled with the significant quantities of glass in new buildings, an integrated design of high performance glazing, lighting shelves, and an active daylight harvesting system (using photocell sensors to reduce the amount of electrical light when daylight is available). These savings are necessary to offset the equally dramatic increase in the number of electrical devices students now bring to their rooms, libraries and other study areas. Significantly more robust electrical systems are required to support the devices in a flexible manner to provide safe and trouble free operation. Another feature that can produce value is web-based metering and dashboard display of utilities, including power, water, cooling and heating. With this knowledge, building occupants are much more likely to be aware of their utility usage and modify their behavior impacting the bottom line.

Communication Systems

Wired telephone systems in student life are quickly becoming a thing of the past. For today’s students, wireless connectivity is standard with coverage required in all areas. This holds true for both Wi-Fi and cellular. Distributed antenna systems are becoming commonplace to ensure both coverage and capacity.

Recent Experience

Davidson College
Davidson, North Carolina
A 250 bed residence hall with a mix of single and double occupancy rooms, common space, and amenity spaces, and the renovation of Irwin, Akers, and Knox residence halls.
113,400 square feet

Florida State University
Tallahassee, Florida
Elliot Marshall Innes, PA
A student wellness center including examination rooms, clinic support spaces, dental examination rooms, nursing classrooms, fitness and therapy spaces, and provisions for a future MRI.
120,000 square feet

Young Harris College
Young Harris, Georgia
VMDO Architects, PC
A student center including a main campus dining room, a faculty dining room, study lounge, library and special collections areas, a game room/lounge, student organization rooms, a senate chamber room, conference rooms, and a commons area.
122,000 square feet

University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia
Ayers/Saint/Gross Inc.
Advanced bridging documents for Phase II of the Alderman Road Housing Complex, consisting of two five story residence halls totaling over 400 beds, and an 8,000 square foot student activities building, located in the Alderman Road housing area on Observatory Hill.
143,650 square feet

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