6 Trends for New Resident Hall - Dormitory Design and Construction

6 Trends for New Resident Hall Dormitory Design and Construction 1

United States (U.S.) student housing construction projects are experiencing rapid growth, with investments in student housing reaching $9.8 billion in 2016 and $8 billion in 2017. These values are nearly three times higher than investments in 2014. Often cited are two reasons for the increase in student housing construction.

  1. Declining enrollments at U.S. colleges and universities are prompting campus leaders to build new, modern, and inviting on-campus housing in hopes of attracting new undergrads.
  2. Many of the existing dorms were built in the 1960s and are now in need of either replacing or extensive repairs and remodeling. Many colleges and universities are choosing to add new resident halls to their campuses because of the enormous expense of retrofitting the old dormitories, so they are environmentally compliant, energy-efficient, safe, and durable.

Today’s on-campus student housing must also aim to provide healthy and acoustically pleasant environments for the protection, comfort, and productivity of the students. Of importance, a 2014 study by Harvard found that excellent indoor environmental quality (IEQ) doubled the cognitive function test scores for those in buildings with improved IEQ.

Six Trends for New Resident Hall Design and Construction

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1. Creating Sustainable Student Housing

Building sustainable student housing is not just good for the environment and the overall campus but can ensure financial savings and long-term value of the structure. Sustainable student housing reduces the utility and maintenance costs and improves the durability of the building. A sustainable dormitory also lessens the use of natural resources like energy, land, and water and strives to limit harm to the ecosystem.

Campus leaders, builders, and architects can obtain guidance on sustainable practices from the United States Green Build Council’s (USGBC’s) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system for sustainability. Sustainable design for new college housing ensures the long-term value of the building, is good for the environment and campus, and can save universities money in the long run.

2. Excellent Indoor Environmental Quality for Modern Student Housing

The architecture of a college dorm must provide excellent IEQ for the comfort, safety, and productivity of the students. IEQ features include optimizing acoustic performance, proper ventilation, maximizing day lighting, mold resistance through moisture control, and avoiding the use of products that contain unhealthy toxins like formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds.

3. Building Fire-Resistant Student Housing

6 Trends for New Resident Hall Dormitory Design and Construction 3

Building fire-resistant student housing is vital for protecting both the students and the structure. In 2011-2015, an estimated annual average of 4,100 fires occurred in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and barracks, causing an annual average of 35 injuries and $14 million in property damage. A critical element of fire-resistant student architecture and construction is passive fire protection. Passive fire protection includes fire-resistant exterior walls, doors, windows, roofs, and vents.

4. Today’s College Students Want More Community Space

Student accommodation architecture takes into account not just the practical side of building a safe and efficient dormitory, but also one that meets the desires and needs of the college students. Many of today’s university students want comfortable and private dormitory rooms but also a variety of common rooms for socializing and studying, such as classrooms, exercise rooms, lounges, game rooms, and cooking spaces. Another common trend in dormitory architecture is to include flexible common spaces that expand and contract as needed for various events sizes.

5. Campus Safety

For the safety of the occupants of student housing and the peace of mind of their parents, dormitory design must take into account safety. Student housing architecture can enhance campus safety with well-lit passages and stairways, fewer entrances, and a security desk. In addition, in the event of a fire or other emergency requiring a quick exit, the dormitory design should include new and modern alarm systems that can open emergency exits.

6. Student Housing Constructed with Insulated Concrete Forms

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Insulated concrete forms (ICFs) create superior wall systems for achieving many of the modern trends in student housing. Student housing built with ICF is sustainable, obtains good IEQ, and is fire-resistant. ICF construction also saves universities and builders time and money because it is durable and quick and straightforward to install.

What are ICFs?

ICFs are hollow blocks or panels made with an insulating foam like expanded polystyrene insulation. The ICFs are stacked to form the design of the college dormitory. Steel rebar reinforces the hollow centers. Pouring concrete into the hollow centers of the blocks or panels creates a layer of continuous insulation, which lessen thermal bridging in the wall.

A Modern 22-Story Dormitory Built with Fox Blocks ICFs in Waterloo, Ontario

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Fox Blocks, with its large reinforced corners, reversibility, and technical support made it the method of choice for this massive student housing building in Waterloo, Ontario. The 22-story dormitory, with weight-bearing ICF walls, is one of the tallest ICF buildings ever constructed, along with the greatest amount of 12”-core ICFs used in a single building in North America.

Fox Blocks ICFs were a superb choice for this student housing building because Fox Blocks are sustainable, have good IEQ, and are fire-resistant. Fox Blocks also save campuses and investors money during both the construction process and over the long run.

Fox Block Student Housing is Sustainable

  • Fox Blocks are sustainable and environmentally friendly because they contain a minimum of 40 percent recycled content by weight and are energy-efficient with R-value of 23+ and exceed ASHRAE/ANSI 90.1 energy code requirements. Fox Block ICF construction controls moisture accumulation within the wall system, which is critical to stopping the growth of mold which can degrade the structural integrity of a dormitory and lead to costly repairs.

Fox Block Student Housing is Fireproof

  • Fox Blocks have a fire-resistance ASTM E119 rating of 4-hours for the 6-inch blocks and 2-hours for the 4-inch blocks.

Fox Block Dormitories have good IEQ

  • Fox Blocks manage moisture intrusion because the blocks provide a solid continuous monolithic concrete wall with a perm rating of below 1.0, which prevents the growth of unhealthy mold.
  • Fox Blocks are also healthy because they do not contain VOC.
  • The Fox Block ICF wall system is quiet because it lessens the transfer of sound between interior walls and from the outside to the inside of the dormitory. Fox Blocks’ Sound Transmission Class rating is STC 45-50+.

Building with Fox Block ICF Saves Colleges and Investors Money During and After the Building Process

  • Fox Blocks minimizes the need for repairs and maintenance because they resist rot and degradation, which saves universities money.
  • Fox Blocks student housing buildings are disaster-resistant against wind, fire, and earthquakes, which reduces the need for costly repairs after a disaster.
  • Fox Blocks student housing buildings are energy-efficient which saves building owners on the long-term expenses of heating and cooling.

The installation of Fox Blocks is quick and easy, which saves money and time. The Fox Block wall assembly combines five building steps into one: the structure, air barrier, insulation, vapor retarder, and attachment. This feature quickens project delivery time by eliminating the need to coordinate multiple trades.