Universities infuse tech features into learning, living, and shopping spaces

Virtual learning rooms, gaming stations, and self-check-out kiosks are among the perks—and necessities—that have all become commonplace in college campus design.

June 13, 2016 |

Rand Hall, a three-story student center and dining area at the center of the Vanderbilt University campus. Photo: Bob Schatz. Click here to enlarge.

Experts from design/planning firm Gresham, Smith and Partners recently posted an intriguing series of blogs about college-age Millennials. Here’s a summary of what Randall Gibson, PE; Mary Couch, NCIDQ, IIDA, LEED AP BD+C; and Brandon Bell had to say about “The New Student”:

LEARN: Colleges and universities have to provide “adaptability, inspiration, and seamless incorporation of technology” throughout the campus. Ergonomic chairs, mobile seating, high-tech A/V equipment, and virtual learning rooms, all enhanced by vibrant colors, are essential. The library must be a “beacon of connectivity,” offering a variety of spaces for small-group study sessions, large-group meetings and events, and one-on-one tutoring. Floor plans should feel open, spacious, easy to maneuver.

“The New Student”

GS&P delved into where Millennials learn, live, shop, and dine.

LIVE: Off-campus housing, such as the GS&P-designed University House at UNC-Charlotte, must rival luxury housing. Fitness rooms, game rooms, study rooms, gourmet kitchens, computer labs, gaming stations, even tanning rooms, have become givens. So are omnipresent WiFi, flat-screen TVs, high-tech computer stations, and conferencing capability. Seating options in break rooms, kitchens, and study rooms should encourage impromptu conversation and interaction.

SHOP: College Millennials gravitate toward mixed-use retail—everything from “sleek and high-tech to vintage,” say the GS&P bloggers. It’s got to be walkable, bikable, or transit accessible. Self-check-out kiosks, free WiFi, and even “flattering lighting” are de rigueur.


Rand Hall. Photo: Bob Schatz. Click to enlarge.

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