Trends In Student Housing Programming, Design

In recent years, student housing development has been on the rise as a top priority at universities throughout the country—especially with the growing momentum of public-private partnerships (P3) for the building type. The university’s vision, mission and values are essential to consider when thinking about the program, design and long-term goals for these facilities. Increasingly, however, the prioritization of affordability and the impact of the designed environment on student success are shaping today’s student housing projects.

Higher education student affairs experts agree that the most critical moment in the pursuit of a degree is the first nine weeks of freshman year. It is the first half of the first semester—and a critical time to form friendships, develop study and performance habits, and begin navigating a major life transition. Universities are looking to student housing developments to support the physical and mental wellness as well as student success during this pivotal time and throughout the academic experience.

For more than five years, our team has conducted post-occupancy evaluations to assess student housing design strategies and determine their impacts on student wellness and social and academic success. Today there are four predominate student housing property types: on-campus university student housing, on-campus P3 student housing, off-campus P3 student housing and off-campus private developer housing. Our research incorporates all of these four types and our primary findings show how design can support both affordability and support student success.