Under Construction: The Next Generation in On-Campus Housing

Student Housing Village
By Andres Tamayo

Student Housing Village

Under Construction: The Next Generation in On-Campus Housing

By Andres Tamayo
The University of Miami has embarked on an ambitious 10-year housing plan that will transform the student life experience into the 21st century.

Freshman Zachary Grissom sat inside the Shalala Student Center Monday flipping through his notes as he prepared for his first day of class at the University of Miami.

As Grissom, a native of Lexington, Kentucky, begins his four-year college journey, he will witness the transformation of the Coral Gables campus in one of the most anticipated campus construction projects in the University’s history.

Grissom had a chance to see a scale model of the Student Housing Village when he visited campus this summer to attend a scholarship meeting at the Office of Admission. He said he’s intrigued, and would definitely be interested in living in the new digs when it is set to open in his junior year.

“I think the new housing will make living on-campus easier and more convenient for students and will be really, really nice for underclassmen and upperclassmen,” Grissom said. It will help upperclassmen, he added, because they won’t have to deal with the hassle of signing yearly leases in places around Miami when they opt to move off-campus.

The 640,000 square-foot Student Housing Village project will feature 25 interconnected buildings on eight acres along the southeast corner of Lake Osceola. Designed to be a vibrant epicenter for academic and cultural interaction on campus, the housing village will be much more than just a place to sleep.

“Nothing impacts the quality of life for students who live on campus more than their on-campus housing,” said Patricia A. Whitely, UM’s vice president for student affairs. “As the University continues to rise as a top-tier research institution, so do students’ expectations for a comfortable, secure, and supportive living and learning environment.”

Designed with the goal of accommodating the 21st century on-campus student experience, the innovative buildings will redefine what it means to live, learn, study, relax and be inspired all without ever stepping foot off campus. As part of the effort to gain student feedback on the designs, Housing and Residential Life assigned a special student housing advisory board to speak with fellow students and hear what they had to say.  

“The board had a chance to share various designs with fellow students and get their input on what they liked and disliked,” said Noureen Ahmed, a senior resident assistant for Eaton Residential College and member of the student housing advisory board. “I think being on campus changes your experience entirely and will add a stronger sense of school spirit,” Ahmed added.

Using student feedback on things from room layouts and furniture designs to views of Lake Osceola and the Shalala Student Center, the village will cater to the wants and needs of the Miami student while also providing a modern Miami living community.

The first floor and mezzanine level of the main structure are planned to serve as retail, event and office spaces. Features such as a flexible, open-concept exhibition center, outdoor fitness circuit and “maker space” for budding entrepreneurs will inspire members of the campus community to think in new ways and engage their creative potential.

Two floors of common space—including music rooms, recreation/game rooms and large-scale learning environments like an auditorium and a 24-hour study lounge—will be topped by five residential floors able to accommodate more than 1,000 students. More intimate study spaces also will be located on each floor of the living community.

“This new facility is being designed to meet the needs and expectations of the next generation of University of Miami students,” said James Smart, executive director of the Department of Housing and Residential Life. “It will be an outstanding housing facility for the students of the future.”

With views of Lake Osceola and the Shalala Student Center and a connectivity to campus like never before, outdoor plazas will activate the Coral Gables campus. Innovative designs and a modern feel will inspire the next generation of UM students and showcase the beauty of the Coral Gables campus.

The village’s fully-equipped classrooms, conference rooms and residential areas will contribute to the overall success of the campus community.

Expected completion for Phase 1 is Fall 2019. Phases 2 and 3 will aim to modernize the Hecht, Stanford, Mahoney, Eaton and Pearson Residential Colleges. The Student Housing Village is the first new student housing to be built on campus since 2006, when University Village opened.

The project was designed with the goal of achieving LEED Gold certification for sustainable features and the WELL Building Standard, which addresses lighting, noise, and air quality. Other eco-friendly and quality-of-life features include rooftop green spaces and a rain garden.

For more information about the University’s housing facilities strategic plan, including naming opportunities in the Student Housing Village, visit miami.edu/newstudenthousing.