David Senden – Trends in Student Housing


December 7, 2016

When it comes to student housing, forget about fancy amenities. WiFi and connectivity are the name of the game, along with creating communities on campus, according to some SoCal student housing players.

SoCal Student Housing

Students today want a residential experience, according to USC executive director of real estate and asset management Brian League (second from left), here with NAC Architecture principal-in-charge student housing Ron van der Veen (far left), UC Riverside associate vice chancellor Andy Plumley, American Campus Communities SVP of public-private partnerships Noel Brinkman, KTGY Architecture + Planning principal David Senden, EdR VP of university partnerships Jared Everett, and UCLA assistant vice chancellor, housing and hospitality services Peter Angelis.

The group gathered at yesterday’s SoCal Student Housing event to discuss student housing trends.

Noel said his firm is building a lot of traditional residence halls now.

SoCal Student Housing

Peter (far right with David and Jared) said food has become a very important part of the student residential experience.

“The food we offer we believe is unparalleled,” Peter said, mentioning an Asian concept dining hall and a healthy dining venue are among the offerings on campus.

UCLA is also building a “Starbucks on steroids,” which is scheduled to open in January, he said. It will have a study space with a living room feel, along with a group study space, a fireplace and a bakery.

SoCal Student Housing

While UCLA builds high-rise dorms, USC (LA’s biggest developer) only goes as high as six stories for its housing product, which the university thinks works best for its students, according to Brian (pictured far right with Ron on the far left and Andy in the center). He pointed out USC is in an urban environment where land is at a premium.

USC is also offering new, themed products, including an Honors House and other residences grouped by academics or interests that are set apart with a flag and a banner, he said. Brian refers to it as the Harry Potter model.

It’s all part of the effort to create a community within the housing product.

SoCal Student Housing

Andy told the more than 250 people in attendance that UC Riverside has unique goals since it’s different from other schools in the UC system—more students are commuters.

It has also seen massive growth on campus recently.

Affordability is a big issue, according to Andy and many of the panelists.

They have also noticed fewer students are driving these days, opting for Uber instead, and prefer being closer to their campuses.