David Senden – 5 Things Your Student Housing Needs to Succeed

Student Housing Bisnow

January 8, 2016

More players are joining the student housing game and the stakes are getting higher with luxury projects at the forefront. But, you can’t forget the basics of why the students are there (no, not to play beer pong): to learn. Irvine, CA-based KTGY Architecture + Planning design principal David Senden offers up these five must-haves for every student housing project.


Gen Z (and their parents) think that value matters even more so than the Millennials that came before them, David says. They are the children of the recession and have watched their parents struggle. Gen Z is practical and does not allocate money for frivolity. Although the economy is better now, Gen Z remembers when it wasn’t. Allowing for flexibility in sleeping arrangements is important for this generation. Sometimes it is necessary to accommodate two or three students in a sleeping room rather than just one with its own attached bath.


More than ever, the Internet is tops on the list of student requirements. It’s not enough to just have it. It has to be fast and reliable, always. Certainly, students use it for entertainment, but now course content is more frequently hosted on the web, seminars are streamed and classwork submitted online. Fast Internet makes for better students. Access is not only a must in students’ apartments, but superfast WiFi in the common areas and amenity spaces is equally important, David says. Today’s students don’t want to be tethered; mobile devices account for a greater percentage of students’ online time than personal computers. (Pictured: David and staff at USC’s Gamble House.)

Resident Life2125-Franklin-(10)

With more emphasis being placed on online social activities, Gen Z still wants to live where their friends are living. Creating a community, a sense of camaraderie and fostering shared interests will help attract and retain students, David tells us. Even off-campus, resident life directors who coordinate programs to connect students, much in the same way as a cruise ship director, are key in making a student housing development feel less like a place to park your stuff for a semester, and more like a home. (Pictured: 2125 Franklin near the University of Oregon; developed by American Campus Communities and opened in fall 2015. Designed by KTGY Architecture + Planning.)

Design Matters
David says today’s students are part of the most design-savvy generation in history. They are also interested in their individuality. Where they live says a lot about what they value and who they are. With the wide range of student housing choices out there, embracing unique and forward-looking design can get their attention. This is especially true of the interior spaces. They’re not looking for their parents’ home; they want something grown-up, but not stuffy and definitely not cheesy or too trendy. Take design cues from the hospitality industry; classic with a little bit of funk, David advises. (Pictured: BLVD63 in San Diego, developed by Carmel Partners and opened in fall 2014. Designed by KTGY Architecture + Planning.)


For a while, student housing was all about the party. It was the respite from the coursework; a place to kick back and relax. It was all about the collegiate experience. Gen Z wants balance. They will look for a home where they can have fun but also study. Including quiet study space, group project rooms, and other resources to help students complete their “real” mission is essential. (Pictured: Focus room at BLVD63 in San Diego, developed by Carmel Partners and opened in fall 2014. Designed by KTGY Architecture + Planning.)