SCUP 2023 Annual Conference

08.01.23 | Sindu Meier, Alicia Drumm, + Ewelina Peszt | EventsSustainability

In 2023 three women at WRA were selected to speak at the Society for College and University Planning Annual Conference. Each presenter represented the firm and its work sharing topics that ranged from mitigating the second year slump, sustainability and inclusion on campus, and reinvigorating student life communities through architecture.

Case Western Reserve University South Residential Village Hard Hat Tour

Sindu Meier | Sunday 7.30.2023

At this year’s SCUP conference WRA, Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), and Independence Construction presented the CWRU South Residential Village. This 600-bed residential hall complex is designed to be the center of gravity for the Second Year experience. Currently, second years are scattered across the urban campus and most live in towers with minimal common space on each floor. This creates an isolating experience. Students work hard to apply and be accepted into these universities; however, it is in the second year when they hit the “Sophomore Slump” – everything is no longer new, the workload is increasing, and students are expected to be more independent. As a result of this, second year students are more likely to struggle with finding their place and some choose to leave, leading to retention issues at universities across the country.

CWRU’s efforts to improve the Second Year experience center around the South Residential Village. The project includes common amenities – study lounges, practice rooms, common kitchens, and laundry for the residents. To welcome the greater community, the South Residential village is built around a play lawn and Wellness Garden. A multi-purpose room is prominently located at the entry to the Village so second years can host campus events or club activities in their space. Four Staff members and their families will live in the Village and supplement the ResLife presence for the community.

During the discussion of the project and subsequent hard hat tour and, representatives from other universities including Rutgers, University of Texas at El Paso, Georgetown and others discussed with us their efforts to help first year students make the transition to college life and greater independence. This project starts the conversation for an equally importance issue: retention and supporting students throughout their four-year journey.

The Intersection of Sustainability and Inclusion

Alicia Drumm | Monday 7.31.2023

This session tackled two big topics that are ever-present in university and campus planning: sustainability and DEI efforts. Today colleges and universities want to create more socially responsible campuses while also building energy efficient and resilient buildings that protect their investment and reduce their operating costs. These goals require architects and planners that are well-equipped to engage in conversations involving diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, implement Universal design principles, and employ the tenets of sustainable design. They must manage all of these multifaceted problems while also delivering beautiful, budget-friendly buildings that achieve a university’s educational and program goals and attract and retain students.

This panel discussion sought to answer the questions: How do designers and planners tackle the increasing necessity to be experts in more than just traditional design? And how can college and university clients set and prioritize their goals early on to ensure the success of a project?

The social and environmental success of future built work relies on the committed collaboration of educators, administrators, architects, and clients. This panel discussion featured a representative from each of these groups to speak to how everyone involved in the design process can push for more equitable, sustainable architecture:

Robert Easter, FAIA, NOMAC, Former Head of Architecture Department at Hampton University

Nea Maloo, FAIA, NOMA, LEED AP BD+C, Lecturer at Howard University

Sarah Felton, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Deputy Director for the Office of Planning at Division of Capital Asset Management + Maintenance

It Takes a "Student Life" Village

Ewelina Peszt | Tuesday 8.1.2023

This session focused on student success through the case study of Sadler Center Expansion at William & Mary. The university’s vision for a Student Life Neighborhood was realized with the completion of this project, creating an environment where students can thrive and develop a sense of belonging and agency to manage their own experiences. Adapting to unexpected and atypical project challenges, the team used student success as the planning anchor for co-locating 11 student affair groups that were previously dispersed across campus to one home.

The addition provides access to critical student services and offers flexible meeting spaces for both formal and informal collaboration and studying. While administrative functions were a significant portion of the program, the goal was to prioritize the students. All meeting rooms are strategically located along circulation paths and accessible to all. The Slice, a large open space that serves as a dynamic hub located at the crossroads of major circulation, transforms from a quiet study area one day to a lively living room the next, where students gather to watch football games and partake in scheduled celebrations of cultural events. The transparent frontage along the now-completed Student Life Walk draws students into the lively spaces. Organized along a concourse and populated with open seating at various scales along with views to the outside, warm finishes, and abundant natural light, the new Student Center is the sought-after spot-on campus.

The success of this project, positive impact on campus, and enthusiasm from students was presented by four key team leaders--the design architect, architect of record, owner’s representative and campus building committee chair.

Virginia Ambler, PH.D., Vice President of Student Affairs at William & Mary

Amber Hall, AIA, Senior Project Manager at William & Mary

Annette McDaniels, AIA, CCCA, LEED AP BD+C, Vice President of Grimm + Parker Architects

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