New Initiative to Create Residence Hall of the Future

Jan. 26, 2006
Experts convene to plan state-of-the-art student housing facility

A group of student housing experts, including Paul Wuennenberg, principal at St. Louis-based Mackey Mitchell Associates, will convene in early February in Chicago to design the next generation of campus housing as part of the “21st Century Project.”  The “21st Century Project” is a multi-phased program that will culminate in the construction of a brand new, state-of-the-art college residential facility.

Sponsored by the Columbus, OH-based Association of College and University Housing Officers-Intl. (ACUHO-I) and its member organizations, this prototype will show how better to accommodate the ever-changing role residence halls play in higher education institutions. Four walls and a bed are no longer enough. Today’s campus housing must foster learning and comfort, balance environmental and technological concerns, and do so in a way that’s affordable to both the school and the students.

“We are bringing together a wide variety of experts from both the academic
and professional side to help us approach the project from every conceivable angle,” said Michael Coakley, project coordinator and assistant vice president of student life at Northern Illinois University. “The sustainability and economics of this project will be considered just as highly as sociological and educational factors. Aesthetics and pragmatism will be weighed against each other, epitomizing all we look for in a quality residence hall.”

Association members are currently collecting and synthesizing data. This data, along with the knowledge and experience of other attendees, will be shared at a summit to be held in Chicago on Feb. 5-8, 2006. Later this spring, the group will present its findings to participating college and university officials as well as to vendors, development agencies, and architecture firms.

Participating firms will begin to produce conceptual plans and massing options for the defined facilities. From these, a committee will choose final designs. That building will later be constructed on a college campus.

“This is not simply a group of people brainstorming a wish list of ideas,” said Sallie Traxler, ACUHO-I Executive Director. “When the project is complete, there will be tangible evidence of our work, and we fully expect it to serve as a model for the college residence halls to be built around the world for the next generation.”

This information was reprinted with permission from Mackey Mitchell Associates (, a St. Louis-based professional service firm of architects, planners, and interior designers. To find out more about the Association of College and University Housing Officers-Intl., visit (

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