Page 44 - College Planning & Management, November 2017
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and comfortable, with all the im- portant amenities. Consider:
• Natural light. Good natural
light can be hard to come by in old, institutional college build- ings. In this case, designing plans for new windows or rooms with a sightline to the outdoors can do wonders. In some cases, designers can open up staircas- es to bring in light from above. Window coverings or translu- cent films that don’t block but rather filter the light can also be useful, as can sidelights from offices that allow light into the open office or corridor.
• Technology. Designing for good wireless connectivity and power outlets is crucial for the laptop-wielding stu- dent, as well as those who may need to answer quick emails or check assignments on their phones. What’s more, offer- ing printer stations, computer labs and mini-copy centers is important for those students who may not have access to technology at home.
• Food. Amenities such as food
are also crucial. Accommodat- ing students with designs for a small café or coffee kiosk can make a big impact in terms of the spaces where students are hanging out and want to stay.
Help Students Take Ownership of Their Campus
Creating ownership of spaces often happens when students are coming from poorly designed space to a well-designed space that makes them feel valued and important. It’s important to un- derstand the psychographics of the student population so that they feel these spaces were de- signed with them in mind.
That said, community col- lege students occupy broad de- mographics, from high school kids working on college credit; to students returning from a gap year; to first-generation college students; to older adults going back to school after having kids or changing careers, or both. Additionally, their curricula are different than those at tradition- al four-year colleges. Today’s
students prefer a casual “drop in” mentality versus something that has to be strictly scheduled.
First-year students can be easily intimidated and will sometimes leave and not return if they get overwhelmed. Designing intuitive wayfinding and providing easily accessible resources is crucial to helping students succeed. For instance, pointing toward a red stair- case can help direct students to the admissions area. Directing stu- dents to an orange door can help make it easier to find their advisor or counselor.
Make Campus Feel Like Home
Bringing in home-like elements can help make students feel com- fortable and welcome. Floors, especially, can have a big impact on a space. While shiny, smooth surfaces can make a space feel institu- tional, carpeted floors or strategically placed rugs or carpet tiles can provide comfort underfoot, better acoustics, and makes a space more inviting. The same goes for wall coverings that provide a visual accent as well as a textural element. Floor lamps that allow users to control the light around them give more control of the space, and also bring in home-like elements that can encourage them to stay.
Designing for college campuses depends so much upon who the students are and what needs they have. By providing opportunities for students to feel engaged with welcoming amenities designed just for them, designers and architects can create spaces that create new opportunities for commuter students to thrive. CPM
Tracy Tafoya is a LEED-AP and OZ Architecture principal with more than 25 years’ experience as a designer. Tracy leads OZ’s Inte- rior Design studio, bringing a fresh perspective to libraries, higher education, corporate offices and more. Visit OZ at www.ozarch. com and contact Tracy at
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