How one college is solving a housing crunch

Colleges cope with high building costs, sustainability, and new demands from students

When enrollment at The College of Idaho surpassed campus housing capacity this school year, administrators looked for a cheaper solution than building a potentially expensive new residence hall, the Idaho Press reported.

The college teamed up with a local company that makes affordable housing out of shipping containers to build space for more than 50 students by the end of winter, according to the newspaper.

Across the country, meanwhile, colleges and universities continue to respond to student housing expectations in ways that are substantially changing the face of residence halls. Along with larger rooms with more privacy and more amenities, new housing complexes also accommodate students’ academic and creative interests.

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At the University of Arkansas, for example, the newly opened Adohi Hall caters to students exploring architecture, art, music, theater and other creative fields, KUAF-FM reported. The building offers soundproof music rooms, performance spaces and 3D printers, the station reported.

Elsewhere, institutions are focusing heavily on sustainability when designing new residence halls. Rhode Island School of Design reduced the carbon footprint of its first new residence hall in more than 30 years by building the structure out of a hybrid laminated timber-steel frame, The Architect’s Newspaper reported.

The hall’s furniture was made from sustainable materials such as bamboo plywood and European beech, the newspaper reported.

University of California, Irvine recently opened what leaders there call the “greenest” building in the UC system, the Los Angeles Times reported. Plaza Verde, which has more than 1,400 beds, is powered by solar panels and surrounded by “native drought-tolerant landscaping.” It has all-electric appliances and more than 750 bicycle parking spaces, the newspaper reported.

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Another residential challenge that housing administrators face is students’ increasing demand not to have a roommate, especially after their first year.

“What I hear every year from students is, ‘I really loved my first-year experience living in a double room in a traditional residence hall, but I don’t ever want to do it again,’” Michael Speros, the executive director of housing and residential life at Sacramento State University, told University Business in 2017.

Even so, more universities are creating more singles for first-year students. University of Central Florida, one of the nation’s largest schools, offers a substantial number of singles to first-year students.

“We see students doing better academically when they live on campus,” Sandra Brasch, an assistant marketing director for housing and residence life, told UB. “If providing them a room that makes them more comfortable helps, we’re all for it.”

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Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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