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4 Things You Need To Know About The Future Of Student Housing

As demand for student housing in Boston continues to grow, the way these developments are designed and built is changing. We caught up with CannonDesign's Lynne Deninger, the firm's Boston Office Practice leader and an expert in university design, to get her insight.

1) Fusion Facilities Bolster Student Success


CannonDesign’s Boston team is collaborating with the Yazdani Studio of CannonDesign on one of the most cutting-edge student housing projects in the country: Lassonde Studios at the University of Utah, a "fusion building." It combines 400 student residence beds with 20k SF of  “garage” space where students can build a prototype, attend an event or launch a company.

This level of integration between housing and academic space is unique, and represents something other universities should request in their student housing, Lynne says. More than just a strategic use of space, this kind of integration can increase student engagement and academic success.

2) Micro-Units Are Coming To Student Housing


Developers and designers are also beginning to focus on micro-housing units that provide housing options near universities at a reasonable price point, Lynne says. "One particularly forward-thinking developer we're exploring opportunities with is University Student Living of The Michaels Organization, which is currently developing just such a space near Boston University." (pictured)

The new facility renovates a previously vacant commercial building to include micro-housing units from 325 SF to 400 SF that each offer a private kitchen and bathroom. The mixed-use building also contains 6,200 SF of retail space on the first floor and community areas such as a fitness center and a multimedia room, and common areas to foster connectivity.

3) Student Housing Will Promote Student Retention


Student housing in the future will also need to be calibrated to retain students, because one of the leading reasons students leave school is lack of engagement, Lynne says. Student housing can help address this issue by introducing spaces that enrich student engagement. Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s East Hall (pictured), for example, addressed this issue a few years ago by providing fitness spaces, tech suites, meetings space and music rooms all within the residence hall.

Newer projects are building on these trends by incorporating spaces for advising, programmed events (indoor and outside), group study collaboration, wellness and dining into campus housing facilities.

At Pratt Institute in New York, CannonDesign is incorporating maker, design and pin-up space to engage the first-year cohort. This kind of design helps first-year students connect with and be mentored by upper-division students, which can strengthen student retention rates.

4) Student Housing: Important To Boston


Student housing is more than just a higher education concern, Lynne says. It's a focus for the City of Boston, whose goals (as outlined in a report by the mayor last year) include: ensuring all students reside in safe, suitable housing; and the creation of 18,500 new student residence beds by 2030, to return 5,000 units of workforce housing to the market.

Boston’s thriving academic institutions face strong pressure as they work to accommodate more than 148,000 students enrolled in greater Boston, Lynne says. "Part of the solution is creating dynamic campus housing options that appeal to students over the next decade."