David Senden – Five Trends for Student Housing


October 9, 2015

IRVINE, CA—Internet connectivity is just one of the must-haves for student housing, KTGY Architecture + Planning design principal David Senden tells GlobeSt.com. Senden spoke with us exclusively about the essentials for developing successful student-housing communities. Below, his list of the five biggest trends in student housing and how to take advantage of them.

ValueGen Z (and their parents) think that value matters even more so than the Millennials that came before them. 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 practical generation. Sometimes it is necessary to accommodate two or three students in a sleeping room rather than just one room with its own attached bath

Connectivity—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 to the Internet is not only a must in students’ apartments, but superfast WiFi in the common areas and amenity spaces is equally important. Today’s students don’t want to be tethered; mobile devices account for a greater percentage of students’ online time than personal computers.

Resident life—Even with more emphasis being placed on online social activities, Gen Z still want to live where their friends are living. Creating a community, a sense of camaraderie and fostering shared interests will help attract, as well as retain students. Even off-campus, resident life directors who coordinate programs to connect students—in much the same way a cruise-ship director does—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.

Design matters—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 please, not cheesy or too trendy. Take design cues from the hospitality industry; classic with a little bit of funk.

Consider academics—For a while, student housing was all about the party. It was the respite from the coursework; a place to kick-back and to 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.