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18th Annual Residence Hall Construction Report

18th Annual Residence Hall Construction Report

Residence hall construction at the nation's higher-education institutions remains strong.

It is said that “home is where the heart is.” Many colleges and universities are keeping that in mind as they continue to invest in building residential facilities to attract students to on-campus living.

Residence hall construction at the nation's higher-education institutions remains strong, as the benefits to students, parents and the college are many. Students get a total college experience with easy access to classes and institution amenities; parents get the comfort of knowing their child is in an environment designed for safety and personal growth; and the college improves efficiency of auxiliary services while building better long-term bonds with students and their families.

According to American School & University's 18th annual Residence Hall Construction Report, the median new housing facility completed in 2006 was 89,000 square feet (down from 136,886 square feet in 2005) and accommodated 316 residents at a total cost of $15 million (compared with 382 residents and $20.4 million the year before).

Following are details of the 20 projects surveyed for the 18th annual report, providing data by averages and medians, as well as various amenities offered in today's new residence hall facilities.

Residence hall construction (2006)

Variable Average Median
Cost ($ millions) $21.6 $15.0
Size (Sq. Ft.) 125,085 89,000
Residents 350 316
Cost/Sq. Ft. $173 $169
Sq. Ft./Resident 357 282
Cost/Resident $61,714 $47,468

Housing costs over the decade

The cost per square foot to construct a new residence hall in 2006 remained consistent with the prior year's all-time high. The median cost per square foot for the past 10 years:

1997 $112
1998 $130
1999 $120
2000 $126
2001 $128
2002 $150
2003 $140
2004 $114
2005 $169
2006 $169

Amenities in residence halls completed in 2006

Air conditioning 92%
Carpeting 63%
Classrooms 50%
Computer access to library 35%
Dining hall 10%
Fitness center 50%
Individual room/apartment lavatories 45%
Internet access 30%
Kitchen 30%
Laundry 45%
Security systems (electronic) 20%
Shared lavatories 65%
Television rooms/lounges 60%

Stats at a glance

Overview of the median new residence hall constructed in 2006:

Cost: $15.0 million

Size: 89,000 sq. ft.

Residents: 316

Cost/Square Foot: $169

Square Feet/Resident: 282

Cost/Resident: $47,468

Space allocation

While the median amount of space provided per resident in new residence halls completed in 2006 dropped from the previous year, when looking at averages, the amount of space provided per resident remained fairly consistent with the prior year. The average amount of square feet per resident over the past decade:

Year Avg. Sq. Ft./Res.
1997 250
1998 294
1999 284
2000 319
2001 331
2002 340
2003 429
2004 457
2005 352
2006 357

Project snapshot: On-campus apartments

Facing growing enrollment and a housing shortage, the University of Wisconsin—Platteville piloted a design-build process for a new apartment-style residence hall.


Design-build offered two benefits: The new Southwest Hall could be completed quicker than it would have under the traditional, lengthy state building process, and it would cost $3.6 million less than a comparable residence, saving 16 percent.

Knowing that housing can influence a student's decision on where to attend school, the architect's plan for the six-story, brick and architectural metal panel building features 95 apartment-style units, each with four single bedrooms, a living room, two bathrooms and a kitchenette with dining area. The residence hall also includes group study areas, a laundry facility, and community and multipurpose areas.

Because the design-build process was more fluid in this pilot project, the architect could make suggestions for systems and construction types that would cost less and still meet state goals. The structure was built in 13 months, opening in July 2006, so 380 students could settle in for the school year.

The architect for this project is Plunkett Raysich Architects (Milwaukee, Wis.).

Project snapshot: Suite comforts

When Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia, decided to become co-ed, it faced an urgent need for additional housing on campus. It began an accelerated design-build process in October 2004 for a new residence hall capable of accommodating an additional 155 beds. The project was completed in January 2006.

The six-story, 55,000-square-foot residence hall offers suite-style housing. Situated atop a hill overlooking Fairmount Park, the residence hall makes use of the natural grade of the site to feature picturesque views of the campus. With a terra-cotta roof, large windows and an arched entranceway with decorative tile accents, the residence hall is a contemporary interpretation of the campus vernacular. Interior finishes include terrazzo floors, clear-stained maple accents and custom millwork.

A student center on the first floor provides a clubroom for student meetings, TV lounge, recreation room, formal lounge, snack bar/dining area and health center to serve the entire community. Computer “touch-down” stations with wireless Internet access are sprinkled along the serpentine corridor.

An outdoor piazza provides an attractive central gathering place for students that links the new residence hall with an existing residence hall and library/student union building.

The architect for this project is Voith & Mactavish Architects LLP (Philadelphia).

Agron is editor-in-chief of AS&U. 

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