The architects of the residence connect with university students


The designers used Revit for the 3D modeling and SketchUp for the initial design work. All the animations were made with Artlantis and Adobe Premier.

KWK Architects | Augustana University

As universities and colleges look to design new residences and dining halls, experts at KWK Architects say the best way for architects to improve their design standards is to speak directly with students about their needs and wishes. in terms of space. They claim that the process is a crucial part of the process.

KWK Architects used feedback from student leadership groups to design the new college living / learning residence at Augustana University in South Dakota. The new three-story L-shaped hall will accommodate up to 200 students and will feature semi-suites with four beds and a bathroom in each unit. A community building at the front of the lobby will include multi-purpose shared spaces and living and learning environments for faculty, students and affinity groups on campus.

Typically, dorms are known as a place to sleep – a dormitory. Apparently, however, this term is outdated. According to KWK director Paul Wuennenberg, students can spend 70% of their time outside the classroom. These rooms are more than a place to sleep, there are office hours, learning areas, classes, conferences, etc. – an infusion between how the space will be used and the design.

This infusion continues throughout the process and not just in construction, as there are many nuances that come into play simply when a project is being considered on campus. “On campus, it’s a little different than your average construction project,” says Wuennenberg. “There is a lot of foot traffic. [Contractors] must coordinate with dump trucks to ensure students are safe, routes to and from the university core of campus to existing accommodation, when to start work and cannot do certain things on site to cause harm noise. Communication and engagement with students is important. Inform students of safe routes and understand that loud work like excavation is unlikely to be able to start until 8 a.m.

The construction of the Augustana University dormitory in South Dakota will be a 53,000 square foot building consisting of semi-suites with a separate entrance and security for the living area. A community space is provided on the first floor which includes a kitchen area, classrooms, living room and offices.

“There’s a large glass pavilion at the end of the building that glows at night,” describes Wuennenberg, who calls the building a welcoming “jewelry box” that welcomes everyone. This infusion of design and visual engagement of the building was also made throughout the interior floor plan like the placement of amenities.

One of the unique challenges of the Wuennenberg team was constructing a concrete girder passing over an existing and operational utility tunnel under the building – explaining that it is like building an underground bridge. “We stopped the foundations on both sides of this tunnel, and then much like in a parking garage, we created a concrete beam that spans the top. So, we do not throw any load on the top of the tunnel, but it is transferred to the sides and into the soles. The building is supported by this.

Ensuring that the decorative elements harmonize with the language of the existing brick campus, the building features a concrete terrace from a glass pavilion with side walls for seating. KWK also uses precast concrete fillings and cement boards with the masonry.

Founded in 2013 by five architects with 120 years of knowledge and experience in higher education, KWK Architects partners with colleges and universities across the United States to create innovative and inspiring places that enhance life on campus. Areas of expertise include student accommodation and catering, as well as academic and science / technology spaces. The company has completed over $ 1 billion in construction projects since its inception and currently employs a growing workforce of 13 at its headquarters in St. Louis, MO.

KWK likes to involve students, explains Wuennenberg, but understands that it’s all about perspective. Where some choose not to, he says 90% of the time universities want students to be engaged. “They want to know they’re making the right decisions,” he says. While those who participate may not be exactly the people who will be using the building in the future, this connection provides insight into the culture – allowing KWK to learn what was unique about the institution compared to. to another.

“Student leadership groups are encouraged to participate throughout the design process to determine what they would like to have and not have in the spaces they frequent most,” says Wuennenberg. “Architects who show they care about student input and take the time to listen to their opinions will ultimately have a better design outcome. ”

Among the many contributions, students mentioned that they needed “chapter rooms” large enough to accommodate 80-100 people for fraternities and sororities. “It affects our structural system a lot,” says Wuennenberg. This infusion between structural planes helped understand how the students were going to use the spaces and how KWK went about providing structure to it.

There are several methods architects can use to solicit student feedback on the design. However, they can be rewarded for their participation in the design process with meal credits, Amazon or iTunes gift cards, pizza, t-shirts, or other fun activities determined by the college.

  • Virtual tours where students can view the draft design plan and make comments
  • Discussion groups where students can exchange ideas about each other
  • Online surveys where students can provide feedback on the types of units they prefer, including cost differences
  • Suggestion boxes on campus where students can submit their contribution in writing
  • Point-based surveys where students have a say in the types of spaces they like, such as colorful, contemporary, or having a home or lodge feel

KWK suggests that the designers consider working with student housing administrators on campus to determine which student organizations would be best to work with. Where ROI, budget, and schedule are important factors for owners, Wuennenberg found that users have a lot of feedback and understanding that can be a key factor in a project’s success. “One of the things about delivery methods now, [contractors] are there during meetings, ”Wuennenberg explains. “They hear firsthand what’s important, they don’t just get a set of blueprints and specs and build from them, but they know why and why these things are important. I always feel like it’s good to have the contractor at the table early on in the design because… it affects the design.


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