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5 Trends Dominating the Future of Student Housing Design

When it comes to designing student housing projects, there are five trends that look to be here for the long haul. Dallas-based Humphreys & Partners Architects president Greg Faulkner gives us the skinny on what’s on the horizon. 

1. High Density & 2. Walkability


Over the last five years, there’s been a move to more high-density projects, Greg says. One factor of that is the desire to be within walking distance to campus. Because land is becoming scarce, there’s a move to more vertical projects, he tells us. About 80% of Humphreys’ recent student housing projects have been walk-to-campus projects. That can mean five-story wood frame elevatored with an above grade parking garage on a 2.5- to 3-acre site (which is the most economical to build), a seven-story light steel in some markets on 2-acre sites or less, or it can be a high-rise 14- to 20-story building on a half-acre if rents trend toward $1k to $1,200 per bed.

3. Resort-Style Amenities


There’s no question that students are demanding resort-style living, Greg says. These projects have Class-A finishes for the flooring, hardware, cabinets/countertops and appliances. They tend to have very high security and off the charts Internet bandwidth. Infinity edge pools, lazy river pools, yogurt service by the pool, cleaning/laundry and concierges that take care of other services are very common, too, he says. Social areas in clubrooms and different sitting areas for student to study and see others outside their sleeping quarters is one reason we have larger and larger clubhouses overall. Pool tables, Ping Pong and expensive indoor golf simulators are typical.

4. Podium Construction & 5. Trendy Architecture


As it gets much more competitive for premium sites, Greg says to expect more podium buildings of five- to seven-story living areas over a parking garage and more high-rise product. There may be some high-rise product with students, grad students and faculty mixed in the same building on different floors. Architecturally, exteriors and finishes are trending toward more modern/edgy looks versus traditional looks. In some markets it may stay traditional, but the predominant trend is toward contemporary looks inside and out. Glass recycled counters, vinyl plank flooring and tile, and nichiha exterior panels with stucco are becoming very popular.